Paul Zalud’s 11-year dream project was completed four months ago, bringing one of the coolest karting facilities in the world to the Pacific Northwest. Knowing a few of us at In My Garage might be interested (yeah, uh huh… “might”), he invited us out last Thursday for a little track time. This job is never boring, but days like that really stand out.
Over the past few years, I’ve been watching the construction of Pacific Grand Prix every time I headed in and out of Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington – always wondering when I would have the chance to get out and race on the new track. So when Paul stopped by recently and offered a few of us the chance to experience his new facility, well… he didn’t have to twist anyone’s arm.
Upon arriving to the track Paul and his crew had everything set up for an adventuresome afternoon of racing. Karts, helmets, and all gear were provided at the track to keep even a first-timer’s (*cough cough* Lisa) trip to the track as worry-free as possible. Let me tell you, these Birel N35 karts aren’t your normal rental machine. At 45mph down the front straight, you learn that real quick!
Paul had us warm up with our first session on their South Concourse Course layout. This was a nice, traditional layout full of big sweeping corners with a tight S-curve (that I just couldn’t figure out). My competitive spirit and a few cat-and-mouse chases with Guy and Jason kept me pushing harder each lap. At the end of the session I was tired (12 minutes of driving doesn’t seem like much until you are behind the wheel)!
Once we had our feet wet, they opened up the north end of the track so we could race the full National CIK Course. Un-be-lievable! The grade changes and banked corners are perfectly laid out, each corner different from the last. I wasn’t able to keep myself from giggling behind my helmet as I slid through the corners, and this seemed to be a common theme for all of us out there.
Enough with my jibber-jabber, check out some in-car video.
The 22-acre gearhead dreamland isn’t just setup for weekend karting with your buddies. Paul has also been filling out track time with Supermoto, drifting, and even lapping days for local car clubs. So, pick your poison and head out to Pacific Grand Prix. You can thank me later by buying me a few laps.
Thanks Paul… see you again soon. Next time I hope it rains!