It’s important to try new things! is what I told my daughter (and myself) more than a few times before we headed to Midlo to try out Thunderbolt Indoor Karting. With three teens, it’s easy get stuck in a recreation rut. Thunderbolt can change that! We visited the indoor facility with its flashy electric cars and had a blast.
First things first, completing the sign-in process and filling out the safety waiver at the kiosk in the lobby is easy and convenient. In hindsight, after viewing our race results against the other cars on the track with us, I wish we’d been a little more creative with our racer names. It was kind of a bummer to see Karen and Lindsey’s times listed with the likes of fellow-racers, Shego and Ninja Mama. (Next time!) If there’s a back-up for race times, there are concessions and games in this area, too. As we discovered, there are also tables and chairs where you can park Grandma and a perfect window through which she can view the action.
At the registration desk, you get a nylon hood to wear under your safety helmet, which is a rather heavy-duty motorcycle helmet. Once you put this on, you can’t hear anything, so don’t worry about track noise. (Take the hood home and stash it in your dress-up box like we did!) Also, wear close-toed shoes, or at registration, you’ll have to rent a pair.
Once inside the track, a Thunderbolt race crew member leads you through the rules and regulations and makes sure your helmet and whiplash brace are on properly. The state-of-the-art electric karts are fast and the entire facility is very clean and bright. As my friend Ninja Mama (who obviously was a bit more accustomed to this racing thing) commented that day, “It doesn’t stink!” Always a bonus with family fun.
Of course, the exhilaration of the racing is the real thrill! As you dart around the track’s curves, you feel like a daredevil, but you also always feel safe. The Thunderbolt crew member directing the race even holds up signs to let you know if it’s time to ease up and let someone pass. (Otherwise I wouldn’t have known Shego was back there!) This might not be important to some people, but for this rookie it was awesome. About eight cars are on the course at the same time.
This is a fantastic year-round, indoor activity for kids of all ages. As a parent, I wanted to get my 13-year-old out there because she’ll be driving soon and I thought of this as a safe and fun introduction. But younger kids at least 48 inches tall can drive at Thunderbolt, too, most likely in a junior-sized car. As a smaller adult, I needed an insert (yes, a lot like a booster) to facilitate a better driving experience. It actually enhanced my comfort with extra padding.
After your sixteen-lap race (fewer laps for the younger set) which takes about seven or eight minutes, you receive your race results so your friends can make fun of what a slow-poke you are, or as one of the track managers at Thunderbolt explained, “Work on improving your times.”
This isn’t discount recreation by any means, but it is very fun. You can look into package deals to afford more time on the track. The day we raced, there was a bonus savings offer on purchasing additional races – something we might have taken advantage of if the Slushees at the Sonic nearby weren’t calling our names.
For additional information about team-building events, corporate parties, birthday parties, anytime racing, and pricing, visit Thunderbolt.
(Karen received a complimentary trial of this service in exchange for sharing her thoughts with RFM readers.)