OPEN FOR BUSINESS: BEACHSIDE GRAND PRIX

When I showed up to interview John Kabboord, VP of Operations for Beachside Grand Prix, I had the notion that the whole event was going to be something very… interview-y. We sat down in a quiet area and I leaned it to ask him a few questions. After we discussed the more obligatory interview questions, he says to me, “Do you want to take a tour?” That’s when the fun started.

The first leg of my interview adventure started with the wildlife expert, Safari Todd. Todd has worked in various capacities at zoos, parks and private organizations throughout Central Florida, and his rap is as smooth as a game show host. He rattled off some facts on the dozens of reptiles, birds and various creatures milling about in their respective homes and asks, “Do you want to hold one?” I’m thinking to myself I’m going to hold a parrot for the camera or maybe even a snake. He proffers me a baby alligator, which by the way, is a sexy muscle of a creature and quite beautiful up close. Then he handed me a monster-sized tarantula. Like, the kind you see in scary movies. He put it on my head, he propped it on my chest… My dearly beloved, Michael Guadagno – who joined me as my esteemed Beachside Media Photographer – nearly fainted. Safari Todd warned me to be careful not to drop the tarantula. It’s a nine year old tarantula actor who’s been featured in many big-name movies. Easy to understand as her shiny tarantula hair undulated like a Beyoncé video in the afternoon breeze. Many of the creatures housed there are, in fact, animal actors. Seriously, check his scene out. It’s a show-stopper. After which, Kabboord stepped in and suggested we head to the track.

After my crew and I were given the perfunctory instructions, warnings and track obstacle directions, I had only one question, “Is rubbing racing?” (Let’s just say it’s frowned upon.) We popped into our respective cars and off we went! The cars are super clean, they’re super quiet, and they’re super fast! You have the ability to navigate your game, not only by pressing the pedal and brake, but as you’re racing over the track there are little marquees throughout. By running over these in-laid marquees, often placed in challenging corners around the track, you can be awarded boosted speed and/or the ability to slow other riders down. Some will even slow you down. Around and around we all went. I, with bugs in my teeth, a shameless grin, and maniacal laughter, tore past my competitors with the mastery of a woman racing to her massage appointment. Okay, real talk: the scenery is gorgeous above the treetops. It’s beautiful. It was a blazing hot Florida day, but the wind in my hair kept things interesting. The whole experience was completely thrilling. The mix of all of was exhilarating. I can see how people would get addicted.

Here’s what I learned about this beautiful new track, their zoomy go-carts, plus a few other particulars:●  There are two levels and it’s made from galvanized steel and a concrete track; mesh concrete. That’s really big stuff! Mesh concrete poured on top of steel for retaining cables and providing extra safety.

●  The track is approximately a thousand feet of action-packed fun.

●  The track has a safety barrier system specifically designed for their carts.

●  The carts are run on four batteries, which means you don’t have exhaust stinking up theplace.

●  The carts are digitized and can be easily managed from the pit. From there they can see theentire track. If someone is bumping or driving unsafe, they can be slowed down or even shut

off. There’s a guy who has a little wireless device that walks around surveilling the races;

he’s the “Commander”. He can instantly stop all the carts by pressing a button.●  Top speed is about 20 mph. It’s fast enough to get that “need for speed” fix.

●  Individual riders run about $17, with packages available after that.

●  There’s a private party room available for special events. It’s a totally rad space with tons ofparty potential; an excellent space to let the kids go nuts.

●  The biological biome, or as I like to call it “The Gator Corral”, is home to dozens of babygators. It’s a great space to visit and see the reptiles up close and personal. They even have a caiman; a very serious looking fellow.

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