Apex Go Karting looks to open in Simsbury this month
By John Fitts
SIMSBURY – Bob Hart and Nicole Pappa have been planning the logistics of Apex Go Karting for more than a year, but their hard work is paying off as the facility is expected to open in the Simsbury Commons later this month.
For more than five years now, Hart and his 13-year-old daughter, Jordan, have been go karting enthusiasts. Along the way, Hart and Pappa had been thinking of changing their careers. Pappa is a veteran of the restaurant industry and business ownership has long been a goal.
“I knew someday I would own a business,” Pappa said. “I didn’t know what.”
So when her husband came home with the idea of a go-kart facility, it didn’t take her too long to get on board.
“You get to a point where you don’t want to do it anymore,” she said of their previous careers. “That being said, we had to figure something out and he just came home one day and said ‘I think I have an idea, tell me what you think’ and then we put together a business plan and went from there. We kept running the numbers and running the numbers.”
“Oddly enough I wasn’t too nervous about it,” she added. “With a restaurant, that’s scary. They come and go. With this, there’s such a big calling for go karts. I call it the go karting underground world. You don’t know about it if you’re not into go karts. People have just come out of the woodwork and the first thing they say is ‘we really need something like this in this area.’”
Of course, prior to starting the business, the couple had a lot of work to do. Trips to go karting facilities now involved paying attention to the fine details of race timing, participation numbers and more. A lot of time was spent also on crunching the numbers, deciding whether to open and indoor or outdoor facility and, perhaps most challenging, finding a location.
Industrial spaces generally needed too much work and didn’t have the HVAC and other infrastructure. Retail spaces were also challenging as the couple was looking for something with 50,000 square feet.
But finally they found the former Bob’s location at Simsbury Commons (Bob’s is currently planning to re-open in a smaller space at the commons).
“I thought I wanted to do it and then it was a year after that and the numbers made sense and I had a location and I had another location and finally got this one,” Hart said.
The space is nearly 40,000 square feet and the couple knew they could make it work and took over the second week of May.
The space had a lot of great features but it’s also been a lot of work. There were dressing rooms to take down, clothing racks to remove and several layers of flooring to deal with prior to building a track, bringing in equipment and setting up party rooms and a front desk.
“I‘ve been doing construction for 25 years and I can’t climb ladders anymore – or roofs – and now I’m working here and putting in 20 hours a day,” Hart joked.
While long hours are likely going to continue for awhile, the construction phase is winding down and the owners, with a few helpers, are attending to last-minute details, such as painting, cleaning and technical setup.
They anticipate opening some time in July.
The facility features a 1,400-foot track (a few hundred feet less if one is an expert driver) with state-of-the-art electronic timing and scoring via a Bulgarian company called RaceFacer. Serious enthusiasts can also download the RaceFacer app to keep track of their scores and take advantage of other features.
Ready to go are 12 Italian CRG Centurion adult go karts that can go as fast as 35 miles per hour and an equal number of junior karts that are just a little smaller and slower.
All of the gas-powered karts are equipped with adjustable seating, impact absorption systems and GPS enabled auto safety features. The safety theme continues with the HVAC building features, as well as the required equipment riders must wear.
Those 16 and up can generally drive the adult karts and to use a junior, one must be 8-years old and at least 48 inches tall. All drivers must sign a waiver and, in the case of minors, obtain a parent or guardian signature as well.
Prices start at $25 and multi-race packages are available at various price points. The cost includes all safety equipment, save for head socks, but riders can bring their own or purchase one for $2.
The business will also – likely in August – begin utilizing two separate rooms on site, as well as some open floor space, for events such as birthday parties and corporate outings. Such parties will feature instructional videos and other features. While the venue will not serve food, families and businesses can also bring in their own food such as pizza and cake. The business will also likely partner with area restaurants to offer promotions.
Exact hours for the facility are still a work in progress.
Apex Go Karting is also gearing up for leagues, track rentals and other features and the best way to find out more and keep up with the progress is to visit https://apexgokarting.com/
At the site, visitors can sign up for automatic updates, fill out event request forms, learn more about the facility and every aspect of the business.
Apex Go Karting
504 Bushy Hill Rd.