Activity fans can easily find themselves stuck inside twiddling their thumbs on rainy days. But if you’re keen to head out for some adrenaline-rushing action, try channeling your inner race car driver on the thrill-a-minute indoor kart track at Richmond’s TBC Indoor Racing.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, the fast-paced attraction has many fans who keep coming back for another circuit or three—and a chance to beat their hard-won personal bests. But there are still plenty of potential first-time kart drivers who have yet to head out on the track for a spin.
We chatted with TBC Indoor Racing's general manager Greg Dane about one of the city’s speediest activities—read on for details.
Tourism Richmond (TR): In a nutshell, what is TBC Indoor Racing all about?
Greg Dane (GD): It’s NASCAR-style European kart racing on an indoor track. There are up to 12 karts in each race and you don’t need any special training before you arrive.
TR: Can you tell us about the karts?
GD: They’re made in France, they have 6.5 horsepower engines and their top speed is 65km per hour. Driving them is easy and accessible—after you’ve watched our mandatory instructional video. All the karts have roll cages, although we don’t expect you to be taking the corners at top speed!
TR: What about the track?
GD: It’s an F1-style road course with a timing system similar to NASCAR racing. The track is about a quarter-of-a-mile long and it has 13 turns. Each race lasts about six minutes.
TR: How are the races organized?
GD: Unless you’ve booked a group activity, it’s all about public racing. That means drivers race against other drivers. It’s always best to reserve a race time rather than just drop-in—you can book up to three days before you arrive. Drop-in slots can be available but we often fill up quickly so we recommend reservations. Keep in mind that we’re especially busy on Saturdays.
TR: Any tips for first-time drivers?
GD: The karts are easy to handle: there are no gears to change and you’re basically just operating a gas pedal and a brake pedal. It’s all clearly explained in the [mandatory instructional] video. I’ve been here for 17 years now, so I’ve developed a few strategies for tackling the course. Once you’ve raced a few times and you want to get faster, we can talk you through turning at the right time, braking at the best time, and creating a good line through the course. It’s definitely not all about going as fast as you can.
Karts reach top speeds of 65km per hour. | Photo: TBC Indoor Racing
TR: Are there any basic requirements or can anyone drive?
GD: For safety reasons, we have an official minimum age of 11 and a minimum height of 58 inches. But we’re really geared to the 18-to-35 age group—they make up the majority of our drivers.
TR: How does the pricing work?
GD: We have different prices for weekends and weekdays and it basically gets cheaper the more you race. From Monday to Thursday, its $17 for one race, $44 for three races and your fourth race is free. From Friday to Sunday, one race is $19, three races is $49 and the fourth one is free.
TR: Are there any special deals?
GD: We have lots of specials. All races are $10 each on Tuesdays. There’s also a Sunday deal where races are $12 after 5:00pm. And we have $12 happy hour pricing twice a day every day except Wednesday.
TR: Is any special gear required?
GD: Helmets are mandatory and most drivers rent them from us [for $3]. The price includes a head sock. You can bring your own helmet but we will check it to make sure it meets the minimum requirements. We can also provide racing suits but these are optional. Our advice is to wear runners and warm clothes—jeans and hoodies work well.
TR: It has been almost 20 years since TBC Indoor Racing opened in Richmond, what has changed over the years?
GD: Not much! We’ve gone through some different karts and a few track changes—there have been a few tweaks here and there. But the basic racing idea hasn’t really changed. It’s still all about the adrenaline rush and blowing off some steam with your friends.
There are up to 12 karts in each race. | Photo: TBC Indoor Racing