The Grand Go-Kart (& pizza) Tour 2016 – The Maestro’s Take Pt. 3. HOTLANTA!

When we last left our heroes, they were checking into a snazzy Sheraton Hotel in Atlanta. The very next morning the Doc ran some kind of race. I stayed in bed. By the time he came back we had to leave the hotel, and I was particularly bummed, because one of the most amazing courses that we were going to check out, the Atlanta Motorsports Park would have to be skipped because the weather was awful.

But the Doc and I had to eat, so we looked for a decent IHOP. I momentarily forgot that it was Sunday, and that one simply cannot get a seat at an IHOP on a Sunday around 10 a.m. I think we went to two different IHOPs, and I put my foot down on a Waffle House, so we found a really nice place called Leonardo’s House of Pancakes. Sounds fancy and Italian, right? Well it wasn’t really fancy, and it definitely was not Italian, but oh my god it was delicious.

I had fried tilapia with scrambled eggs, and I’m pretty sure the Doc had “cheesecake pancakes.” I’ll let him describe that. It was freaking delicious, our waiter was superb, and it put me in good spirits. But the thing that put me in even better spirits was casually looking at the weather forecast, which had slightly shifted. It was now 11:00. According to the weather, the town where the Motorsports Park was had a little mist, but no real rain until 12:30. That meant that if we hauled ass right then and there, we could make it there by 12:00 and maybe get a lap or two in.

This seemed miraculous. All morning I had been checking the weather in the hopes that this would happen. We got out of there as quick as possible and I floored it pretty much all the way there.

The Motorsports Park is actually several tracks, some even for real cars. The karting track is in back, and it’s designed by a Formula 1 Architect.

I don’t even know how to describe the track. As a course there are really only 3 big turns.

The first one happens as you’ve descended a very long hill. It’s so treacherous that they have signposts for when you should probably think about hitting the brake so you don’t go slamming into the field beyond. Then you climb a hill and at the very top of the hill, when you can’t see a damn thing, you shimmy a little to your right and set yourself up for the 2nd big turn, which is very tight, so tight, that the kid working the place that morning told us that he slid out and went into a tire wall. Yikes!

The final turn is incredible, after a very quick and steep descnt (4 stories!), you immediately have to take a sharp right and then climb all the way back up the hill.

Verbal descriptions are kind of useless, so I suggest you watch the following, keeping in mind 1) these are shifter karts, and we were using rental karts, and 2) this looks like a nice day, and the track was definitely a little slick by the time we got there.

 

Since it was misty and starting to drizzle we took it real safe the first race. This is also when the Doc started mixing it up with his racing name. I believe he went with “L. Ron Hubbard” for this track.

The experience was incredible, but he and I had opposite experiences from our first Gopro Motorplex outdoor track, in that he was emboldened by the slick track conditions, and after 2 races, I was out. He kept going for another two, and I believe I got a little video of him somewhere on my phone, but I can’t seem to find it.

Anyway, it was completely worth it, and would definitely return in a heartbeat.

We had more time to kill so we checked out Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, which is pretty much what it says on the tin. Indoor Karting facility, video games, and zip lining.
There are two different Andretti facilities in Atlanta, we were lucky enough to pick the one that had gas karts. No electric karts for these bad boys.

I can’t put a course map up, because the courses change every 3 months or so. They use big white and green plastic barricades to make different outlines. The top time in this configuration was something like 23 seconds. The first race, the Doc and I were running 25 second laps, and by the second race I was comfortably in the 24 region.

Since the courses were made by these plastic barricades, any time you whammed into one of them, the course slightly shifted. It was one of the better indoor tracks though, and we definitely had a hoot.

For some unknown reason, the Doc decided to try zip lining after. I am not sure I understand what that was all about. I’ll let him tell you.

Two important things were going on in Atlanta around that time. 1) the Atlanta football team had just won the pennant or something, and were on their way to the championship sportsball game. So the whole city was pretty psyched. 2) There was an actual, literal tornado ripping through the city. We had no idea about that, and only figured it out after lots of people were texting me saying “GET OUT OF THERE!”

Before we left Georgia though, we stopped off at the world’s most depressing Target and the Doc bought a portable bluetooth speaker so we could listen to stuff on the rest of the drive since my CD player was morto. My eye had been pretty good all day, but it was starting to act up again, so I had the Doc drive, and we listened to, among many things, Marc Maron’s epic “Weird Al” Yankovic interview that was funny, interesting, and surprisingly touching.

The WAZE app had us going through some pretty backwoods road though, and at one point after we had turned off the highway and were driving for about 13 miles, we came across a bunch of police cars in the middle of the road. They basically told us we had to go back to the highway because there were power lines out, and basic flotsam and jetsam everywhere.

So we backtrack 13 miles, get back on the highway, get off after about 20 miles onto another WAZE recommended Deliverance backroad, and sure enough, after about 10 miles we see more cop cars. The Doc pulls over into a gas station, and we confab, and decide to talk to the officers. As we pull up to them, we notice that cars are allowed to pretty  much go wherever they want. They asked us where we were going, and waved us through. So like why were they there in the first place?

We finally got into the panhandle, and to our hotel at about 1:30 a.m. I had a 9:00 a.m. appointment the next morning, so we just wanted to sleep. But the tornado had made its way through a lot of the area, and the hotel had JUST gotten its power back. The poor girl at the counter checked us in and gave us our key. We rolled our bags to the end of the hotel, but our hotel key card wouldn’t work. I went back to the girl, she ran it again, I tried it again. It still wouldn’t work.

She tried to give us a key to a different room. That room didn’t work. Her master key didn’t work. This went on for quite awhile. She finally got us into a room, but the only catch was that the room hadn’t been made up, and it looked like people had had all the right (for them) or wrong (for us) kinds of fun, and there was no way we were sleeping in those sheets. So again, the poor receptionist had to go get us clean linen, and we basically just told her don’t worry about it, and made up the beds ourselves. Poorly.

We really only had one more track to hit the next day before I dropped the Doc off at the airport, but it would turn out to be one of the most memorable ones.

To be continued…

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