On your mark, get set, go! K1 Speed opens in Hillsboro
It has only been open a few weeks, but Hillsboro's newest attraction is already drawing in major crowds from across the area, including several regulars to come weekly.
That shouldn't be too surprising, though. A sign on the front door states it plainly: "Can become addictive."
K1 Speed, 5579 N.E. Huffman St., opened its doors late last year, offering indoor go-kart racing for juniors and adults. The company operates 30 locations across the country, as well as operations in Mexico, Canada, South Korea, Puerto Rico, Italy and France, but Hillsboro's track is the only K1 Speed in Oregon.
Located directly next to Topgolf and not far from Ron Tonkin Field, general manager David Schulte said the racetrack is in an ideal spot to draw in racers.
"It's a prime location," he said. "The big companies are why we came in, and Topgolf. We want to bring Hillsboro up to speed on entertainment destinations and it was a great opportunity."
Murals of professional drivers cover the walls, an arcade area and "lounge" with large windows separate onlookers from the racetrack.
It's a place designed for everyone, Schulte said, from birthday parties to bachelor parties, with karts specifically made for juniors taller than 48 inches, and separate karts for adults. The electric-powered go-karts can drive up to 45 mph and the junior karts, half the speed. It's a place for experienced drivers as well as first-timers, he said.
"I think for me, in general, what we are trying to aim for is to provide a service and an outlet for families to make memories," Schulte said. "I get to see kids or young adults going out there and racing with their parents and having fun, coming out with huge smiles, (saying), 'Oh, I beat you Dad' or 'I got you, Mom.' I think that really, at the end of the day, at the core, we are trying to provide that kind of memory-making opportunity. … We have a huge group of regulars now, followers, people that travel hours to come out here and race."
Two of those regulars were at the track Thursday afternoon, Jan. 17 — one of them on his lunch break from work.
"It puts everybody on an even playing field," said Portland resident Shane Reetz who visits the raceway several times a week during lunch time. "It's more about your driving and less about who has a better car. There is the obvious adrenaline of going fast (that I enjoy), but the part that really gets me is the details, the little improvements you make every time you try different things out, talking to people about how they approach a different corner or what your strategy is."
Another K1 Speed frequenter, 17-year old Beaverton resident Jack Holmes held the best lap time for weeks.
"For a while, I had the record and then somebody came in and beat it a week ago," Holmes said with a laugh. "I came here a few times and realized I really enjoyed it, I've always enjoyed karting, but this place is a step up from places I've been before. ... The karts are really consistent and the atmosphere is really cool."
Like Reetz, Holmes enjoys motor sports, and kart racing is a great alternative, or a place to start, he said.
"I've just always really enjoyed motor sport and racing and I think this place is the closest you can get to that without actually going to the track and having to spend a ton of money," Holmes said. "All the best drivers in the world started out karting."
Asked if Holmes plans to pursue motor sport racing in his future like the professionals covering K1 Speed's walls?
"If I could," he said, "I would."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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