Dan Moore kneels next to one of several Italian-made go-karts available to customers at Atlanta Gran Prix Karting in Newton County. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)
COVINGTON — Dan Moore surveys his go-kart track, located at the site of a former truck driving school off Old Oxford Road in Newton County. It’s a curvy black top track edged by tires and marked with white lines. Moore said riders can reach speeds up to 40 mph, which might not seem like much, but when you’re in the Italian-made karts, it’s fast.
Moore explained his go-karts are the not the type one finds at an amusement park, which run 15 to 20 mph.
“This is more of a joy ride than an amusement ride,” said Moore. “Driving 40 mph in this car gives you the sensation of going 65 or 70 mph. It’s exhilarating.”
Dressed in a jumpsuit and helmet, Moore demonstrates his driving skills, zipping around the eight turns in the quarter-mile track with ease. Moore said as a child, while his brothers played baseball and football, he got his fun riding go-karts — and it wasn’t on a paved track.
“I tore up the backyard,” said Moore.
A few weeks ago, Moore officially opened his go-kart track, Atlanta Gran Prix Karting, located at 350 Old Oxford Road. Moore is leasing half of a 9-acre lot he shares with Chris Carter who opened a remote control vehicle business next door, DC Hobby Shop. DC Hobby sells remote control vehicles and has off-road and on-road tracks for customers to operate cars and trucks they bring themselves or rent from the business.
Moore said the two businesses complement each other. Customers can enjoy laps on the track and then spend time operating remote control vehicles.
“We saw a potential for crossover,” said Moore.
Atlanta Gran Prix Karting offers drivers 10 minutes on the track for $20, plus a $10 insurance fee. Most people can accomplish between 15 and 20 laps during that time frame and for many, that’s enough, said Moore.
“Ten minutes doesn’t seem that long, but we’re wearing adults out on these karts,” said Moore, who added that eight cars are allowed on the track at once.
Right now, Moore’s karts are restricted to ages 16 and above, but he intends to obtain junior karts so that kids can join in the fun.
Drivers undergo a quick course in track safety and rules before they ride, and they must wear long pants, long-sleeved shirt and closed-toe shoes. If they aren’t wearing the proper attire, Moore has jumpsuits available. Helmets, which he supplies, are also required.
Moore said business has been pretty steady, and downright busy on Memorial Day.
“From 1 to 8, we were swamped,” he said.
A retired DeKalb County fireman who also owned a fireplace and woodstove business in Conyers for several years, Moore said his interest in opening a go-kart business started when he worked for a road racing team. As he hauled race cars across the country and into Canada and Mexico, he’d visit go-kart tracks, 10 in all.
He saw potential for a track in the east metro area because there are only two other tracks in Georgia that offer such high-end karts. When the lot next to Interstate 20, easily accessible from the Almon Road exit, became available, he acted on it.
A Christian, Moore said he had lots of conversations with God before moving forward.
“I feel like I was led here by the good Lord,” he said.
Moore said people who visit his track range from those who just want an afternoon of fun to those who own their own go-karts and rent time on his track. He also aims to tap into the corporate market in which companies hold team-building activities at his go-karting facility.
“There is a big market for what we’re doing in corporate entertainment,” he said.
A Monroe resident, Moore lived in Conyers for over two decades and his children graduated from Rockdale County schools. He’s made an effort to hire students from both the Rockdale County and Newton County career academies to work at his track, and the students can use their time at the track as an internship, he said.
“We’re taking advantage of a workforce people didn’t even know existed,” said Moore, who’s hired eight students.
He’s been impressed by the students’ abilities so far.
“It put my faith back into the younger generation,” said Moore.
Moore encourages those who’ve never tried karting to come out and experience a few laps. Go-karts can put a smile on anyone’s face, he said.
“A go-kart can make a 9-year-old out of a 90-year-old,” he said.
The hours of Atlanta Gran Prix Karting are Tuesday through Saturday, 12 to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. The business can be reached by calling 678-794-4602 or emailing email@example.com and more information can be found on Facebook.
Reach DC Hobby at 678-607-5318, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at www.dchobbyshop.com and Facebook.