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Huffman Describes Local Kart Racing Scene




John Huffman, veteran Archbold kart racer, remembers the first time he drove a go-kart.

Speaking to the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce at the Monday, Nov. 19 noon luncheon, Huffman said it happened when he was five years old on a go-kart ride at the Williams County fairgrounds.

The go-karts had platforms on the back, where the concession operator could stand to supervise youngsters.

Huffman said after five or six laps, the operator went to his parents, and said, “He’s going to be just fine.”

Today, at 52, Huffman still is racing karts, earning several championships in the process.

He also teaches racing to younger generations.

“We’re blessed with so much talent” in the area, Huffman said.

He pointed out Logan Wyse, a young man from Archbold attending college at Lima, who works with race teams, and Mark Frey, a local businessman who became a racer and engine builder.

He is working with Hope Boulton, a girl who has quite a family connection. She’s the niece of Sam Hornish, Jr., Indy Racing League champion and Indy 500 winner, whom Huffman also worked with.

Several others from the Archbold area have gone on to racing careers.

Huffman said there are several classes of racing, providing a place for children to adults to compete.

The popularity of NASCAR stock car racing and the television coverage of Indy Car, European Formula One, and other series, has had a positive impact on kart racing.

He said 95% of racecar drivers got their start in karts, motorcycles, or off-road racing.

Kart racing is also beneficial when youngsters get behind the wheel of the family car for the first time.

A Family Sport

Kart racing is a family sport, Huffman said, providing together time for parents and children.

Karts aren’t toys. The track in Jackson, Mich., is a concrete oval. The senior-class karts can travel 60 mph and go through corners at 54 mph.

For kids, the karts are just slightly slower, hitting 52 mph on straights and 48 mph in the corners.

Getting Involved

When asked about the cost, Huffman suggested the junior econo class.

By the time a parent buys the kart plus safety equipment such as helmet, neck brace, and a driver suit, Huffman estimated $1,200 to $1,500.

Higher classes allow more engine modifications to the point where engines originally designed to produce five horsepower can doouble their output, developing as much as 11 to 12 hp.

Huffman was asked about building a local track.

To develop a good facility would require about 20 acres, he said. While dirt-track racing is currently popular, it’s more expensive. Huffman said a paved track can be built for about $60,000.

For a quality, family-friendly facility, a building with running water and flush toilets would be nice.

But, he said, there are opportunities for a track to make money on more than just racing. The track could offer rental karts, and develop league racing

Ideally, he said the facility would have a shop to sell karts, which could perhaps branch into motorcycles, even watercraft.- David Pugh


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