Flash. That's the racing nickname Sparsh Shah, 9, of East Meadow, chooses for himself before donning a helmet and climbing into his electric go-kart at the newly opened, indoor Pole Position Raceway in Farmingdale.
"Flash means speed," Sparsh explains. And that's what he's here to experience. "It's racing. You get to ride in cars. Children don't usually get that opportunity at such a young age." On the real-time scoreboard above the track, the standings soon show "Flash" in first place.
Pole Position Raceway lets up to 10 child and adult drivers at a time compete in side-by-side racing on two separate, quarter-mile tracks. The go-karts can reach speeds of 45 miles per hour as the drivers negotiate straightaways and hairpin turns.
"At some times you could skid out. It's fun," says Jordan Schwartz, 13, of Marine Park, Brooklyn. His dad, Adam, brought him and two of Jordan's friends to Pole Position Raceway and raced with them. Says Dad: "I ride motorcycles and Jet Skis, and it's fast enough for me."
Racers compete in three categories -- junior for kids like Sparsh who are at least 48 inches tall (usually 8 to 11 years old), youth for people at least 58 inches tall who don't have a driver's license, and adult for people at least 58 inches tall who do have a driver's license. The juniors race in smaller go-karts built for their frames, are limited to speeds of 25 mph and race eight laps instead of 10. Racers compete against the clock; the winner is the driver with the fastest single lap, not the first go-kart across the finish line.
"Arrive and Drive" racing is for walk-ins. The raceway also schedules group races, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, Sweet 16 and corporate parties, special events and fundraisers. The owners will donate races for community group fundraisers, says co-owner Karen Davis-Farage of Manhattan.
Pole Position Raceway is owned by Davis-Farage and her husband, Eyal Farage. This is their fourth location since 2010; they own Pole Position Raceways in Jersey City, Syracuse and Buffalo. The couple plans to open two more -- in Rochester and Savannah, Georgia -- before the end of the year.
Racing memorabilia hang throughout the facility; the outside is bordered in the signature black-and-white checks of racing flags.
'NOT BUMPER CARS'
Racers start by watching a brief safety video that includes instructions on how to operate the vehicle. They then put on head socks for sanitary reasons, and a helmet. Employees have the ability to slow down or stop any car remotely at any time, Davis-Farage says. "If they get reckless in their driving, we flag them, and if they don't stop, we call them out," she says. "This is not bumper cars."
Dina Guglielmi of Bethpage brought her three children -- Johnny, 14, Vinny, 11, and Gianna, 7 -- to race recently. She was surprised by the price; it cost her nearly $90 for her kids to compete in one 10-minute race each. "I was like, 'How much?'"
But the kids were happy. "I liked it," Vinny says. "It's intense, and you go really fast."
Pole Position Raceway
WHEN | WHERE Noon to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays at 40 Daniel St., Farmingdale.
INFO $25 per race youth and adult; $22 per race juniors (must be at least 4 feet tall); first race each week requires buying a $5 race license; racers must wear close-toed shoes; 631-752-RACE, PolePositionRaceway.com.
--Country Fair Entertainment Park, 3351 Rte. 112, Medford, countryfairpark.com, 631-732-0579: Its $7 to ride this outdoor, 1/8-mile, figure-eight racetrack, which offers go-karts that can reach 22 miles an hour. There are rookie, adult and two-person go-karts.
--Karts Indoor Raceway, 701 Union Pkwy., Ronkonkoma, 631-737-5278: Its $9 for the first race and $7 each additional race at this indoor facility, which has a 750-foot track and go-karts that go up to 35 mph for adults and 20 mph for drivers younger than 18.
--Tiki Action Park, 1878 Middle Country Rd., Centereach, 631-471-1267: This figure-eight, outdoor track offers a four-minute race with one- or two-person karts that can reach 18 mph. The cost is $7.