Northwest NEWS

August 3, 1998

Local News

Race fans, get ready for the Woodinville 200

Okay, maybe the Northshore 20

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   WOODINVILLE--Ever watch the Indy 500 or a stock car race and dream you were the driver, fans cheering on to the finish line?
   You may soon see a checkered flag if a local company's efforts pay off, except there will be about 100,000 fewer fans in the grandstands and a lot less horsepower in your motor.
   The Composite Group is currently looking in Woodinville or south Snohomish County for a building they can remodel into an indoor track for electric go-carts. It would be "the most fun anyone has had in Woodinville, legally," trumpeted Greg Perrigo of the firm.
   The track is geared towards Microsoftees, the track would host corporate, Christmas and New Years parties, and league-type racing, he said.
   It would also be a training ground for future racers. In addition to the ten go-carts being specially made now in Japan for the track, Perrigo said there would be a simulation center similar to a flight center where potential Jeff Gordons and Al Unsers could hone their racing skills.
   But this won't be an arcade or a teen hangout, he said. If you want to race, you'd have to call ahead and make an appointment.
   He said it would cost $20 to rent the carts, which have a top speed of about 30 mph. Drivers would be outfitted in safety gear.
   Oh, yeah, if you get squirrely out on the track, the carts are linked to remote controls.
   "That way if someone is driving too fast, you can turn him off," Perrigo said.
   But before you get too excited and go out and buy a pair of leather racing gloves and paint your favorite number on the side of a helmet, go-cart racing facilities aren't yet even allowed in the city of Woodinville.
   "That was one that slipped by us" when the city was making a list of uses for the General Business zone, said Ray Sturtz, planning director.
   But the owner of the Composite Group, a product development company, is hoping to change that. He's asked the City Council to change its zoning code to allow go-carts in the General Business Zone, an area east of State Route 522 from 131st Ave. N.E. north to near the King-Snohomish County line.
   The zone is oriented towards autos, bulk retail and heavy commercial, Sturtz said.
   Last week, the City Council was to have first reading of an ordinance that would have amended code to allow go-carts there, but Deputy Mayor Scott Hageman tabled the motion while staff reviewed the city's noise regulations as they apply to racing facilities.
   Perrigo said the company wants to locate the track in Woodinville or south of Turners Corner in Snohomish County because his boss, Vern Fotheringham, lives and works there. He said the firm was interested in the Bryant Building near N.E. 190th St. but it isn't available anymore.
   This won't be the area's only go-cart track. There is an outdoor track in Fife, south of Seattle, though that one is for entertainment, not driver training, Perrigo said.
   Composite will need a 35,000 to 50,000 square-foot building for their track, Perrigo said, perhaps spending as much as $250,000 to convert an existing building to their needs.