Fisher, O’Gara start Speedway Indoor Karting business
From her youth, Sarah Fisher has been a racer’s racer, clawing her way to success in sprint cars and Indy cars. Like every racer, she’s needed somewhere to work out and, living in Indianapolis, outdoors preparation isn’t always the easiest undertaking.
Fisher started her own Indy car team in 2008 and watched it grow, moving two years ago to a facility on Speedway, IN’s Main Street, an area that is becoming the doorway to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – as it had always intended to be.
With Dallara Cars as her next-door neighbor and with an enhanced CFH Racing team that now features entries for newly minted race winner Josef Newgarden and the split entry for co-owner Ed Carpenter/Luca Filippi, Fisher and husband Andy O’Gara have turned their entrepreneurial talents toward karting. Indoor karting, to be precise.
The duo are planning Speedway Indoor Karting (SIK), a 60,000 square-foot facility that opens to the public next April, just in time for the 100th Indianapolis 500. It’s located at 1067 Main Street, just a short walk from CFH Racing. SIK is a privately owned investment by Fisher and O’Gara.
The facility will be multi-faceted, with a 14-turn road course that features multiple elevation changes and a banked oval that the duo intends to lower into the floor, thereby enabling better viewing for spectators on both floors of the facility. The road course karting track will be visible to those walking by the building, which features a full glass front.
The two inside karting tacks will operate independently of one another and will use Sodikarts, with various karts on-hand for all skill levels. A competitive league for junior karting aficionados will serve as an ideal, affordable introduction to motor sport for aspiring racers.
“Andy and I have many goals for Speedway Indoor Karting, all of which are driven toward providing our community, fans and anyone interested in our sport with a destination here in Speedway, where they may experience first-class, hands-on racing,” Fisher stated. “We want our customers to leave educated and passionate about returning to our community here in Speedway.”
The karting endeavor will be a boon to racers who live in the Indianapolis and need to get some hands-on practice during the Verizon IndyCar Series season layoffs, currently a seven-month hiatus. It’s expected the track and the on-site restaurant will generate as many as 40 new jobs for the town of Speedway.
“It’s a privilege to have fans who are willing to give us their time and, for that we want to build on the destination that the Town of Speedway is developing here, especially as a neighbor to the most iconic speedway in the world,” Fisher noted. “There is so much to share about our sport, about karting, the science, the math and the technology – and you can’t forget the social fun!”
It’s evident that Fisher – and O’Gara – have learned a lot about business development since starting the race team in 2008. “And if we’ve learned one thing over the past eight years, it’s that everyone who walks through our door, big or small, is important to your success.”
The O’Gara family is known for its family-operated Irish pub on the side side of Indianapolis; when Fisher was young, her grandparents owned the Grindell kart track in Richwood, Ohio. It’s only natural that this new facility includes a familial mixture of motorsports and cuisine.
The on-site restaurant, called the 1911 Grill, represents the initial year of Indianapolis 500 competition at IMS. 1911 Grill features family dining as well as multiple bar and entertainment areas; there are covered outdoor seating options on both levels of the facility, while inside seating includes up-close views of both kart tracks so dining patrons can enjoy the action.
“This is something that Sarah and I have dreamed about for a long time,” O’Gara explained. “It really connects our passions outside the sport of Indy car racing and I can’t tell you just how exciting it is to see it all come together. It is amazing just how much the Speedway Redevelopment Commission has been able to accomplish for the area in such a short amount of time. Sarah and I are thrilled to be a small part of that.”
In addition to providing racing experiences for both novice and diehard race fans and aspiring drivers, SIK will focus on becoming a new corporate hospitality and entertainment venue for the Indianapolis area, offering multiple corporate hospitality and entertainment rooms outside of the 1911 Grill.
“This development,” said Vince Noblet, president of the Speedway Redevelopment Commission, “Fits perfectly with Speedway’s history and reputation around racing and innovation. For many drivers, karting ignited their passion for racing, and now Speedway gets to share that unique experience with everyone. It not only puts Speedway on the fast track for economic success; it completes the fan experience.”
Words By Anne Proffit
Renderings courtesy Speedway Indoor Karting