Off the Beaten Path: Anderson RacePark

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

In our Off the Beaten Path series we share destinations within the Gulf Coast that are well loved by locals but often escape the notice of some of our seasonal residents. This month, we shine the spotlight on Anderson RacePark – a motorsport-related track in Palmetto which even I didn’t know about until suddenly, I had a need for it. When my mother hit a milestone birthday this year, her long list of party ideas ranged from hang gliding to race car driving to scuba diving. I carefully reread this distressing list to my husband and wondered how I was going to coordinate swimming with sharks (or whatever it was my mother had in mind) … Why couldn’t she be happy with a nice dinner on St. Armands Circle? We could enjoy lobster at the Crab and Fin and then go to Kilwins for fudge. I could wear a pretty dress and feel the sand between my toes as we finished the evening with a walk to watch the sunset on Lido Beach… “What about Anderson RacePark,” my husband said as he broke me out of my daydream. “Anderson what?” I replied “It’s a race track…they race karts…it’s really close by.” I googled this option faster than a Formula One driver and was thrilled to learn a few key facts.

  • It’s in Palmetto, Florida which is less than 15 miles north of Sarasota
  • They have racing programs for all ages and skill levels
  • They have open-lapping sessions for ages 16 years and older available for anyone who wants to “arrive and drive” (BINGO BIRTHDAY PARTY!)
  • They have race karts available for renting
  • I got a few notifications on Facebook…oh wait…back to the birthday party
  • There’s corporate memberships and events, karting school, and even a pro shop.

Before the big day, I called to speak with the staff on two separate occasions and both times they were very patient with someone who was not even sure what a kart was (small, open, 4-wheeled vehicles that really only do about 40 mph but feel a lot faster). There are only certain times available for the open-lapping sessions so I made our reservations. When we arrived, we found helmets in our size, got a quick lesson, and then we were off! We went around the track many, many times. And yes, I can honestly tell you that I had a lot fun! I think I got better as I went, but still, the grass and my kart became fast friends. All in all, Anderson RacePark was the ideal place for us to celebrate my mom’s adventuresome birthday and the experience is one that I will not soon forget. I wonder what my mother will be expecting next year…

Yep, that's my mom with a grin from ear to ear after her race.

Yep, that’s my mom with a grin from ear to ear after her race.

Do you know about any other Sarasota destinations that are Off the Beaten Path? Leave a comment below and you may read about it in this blog!

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