Kart racing a high-speed hidden gem in Butterfield
Small cars bring NASCAR spirit to go-kart track
Racing fans are known for their loyalty and love for the sport of racing.
On any given weekend during the season, hundreds of thousands of fans fill stadiums to cheer on their favorite drivers.
On Sunday, if you listened closely you could hear and see the next generation of race car drivers and fans becoming indoctrinated with the sport in Butterfield.
The town is know for poultry processing, a well-known area photographer and one other area curiosity -- a race track. At the corner of First and Maple Street one may find a 1/8-mile dirt go-kart track, created by Tony Cope seven years ago, known as Twister Alley.
Twister Alley has everything someone would expect to see at a NASCAR event: the constant buzz of generators, the sound of torc wrenches and strategy meetings going on at every tent. In fact, the only noticeable difference is the size of the cars on the track.
"It's more complicated than just showing up with any old go-kart and trying to race," said Eric Tracy, of Springfield. "You have to set up your cars, try to run a straight line to get speed, and you need skill."
Tracy took the checkered flag in the Heavy, 380-pound, 14-and-up class.
On Sunday, over 100 karts turned laps in Butterfield as the racers tried to obtain valuable points to enhance their standing before the season's end.
"Normally, we race on Saturdays and closer to dark," said Chip Abramovitz, track promoter. "Saturday's rain pushed us back a day, and we were just trying to get the race in."
Twister Alley features nine different classes of go-kart racing. Classes are based on weight, age and type of motors. Classes are formed around six and one-half Briggs and Stratton engines. Wing karts will run in the 500 cc division and the open classes are close to an anything goes situations with some racers racing with 50 horsepower, single cylinder motors.
"We have racers from age five to 75 who compete on our track each week," Abramovitz said. "The kids race for trophies and the adults for money."
Racing and the competition is serious business. Winning karts must pass a post race inspection and all drives must wear protective equipment and helmets while on the track.
"Skill and tires are what make a winner on this track," Tracy said. "The engines are the same, so it boils down what skills you have as a driver."
What draws people to racing is the relatively low cost to enter the sport.
"You can buy a kart and race competitively for around $1,000," said Cope. "Some of my best memories have taken place when I have been working on cars with my family and friends. It is a great way for people to spend time together."
Twister Alley is part of a kart circuit with Fountain Raceway in Carterville, and both tracks have a dedicated following.
"We have people from northwest Arkansas, Springfield, Monett, Warsaw, Nebraska and Oklahoma come to race at our track," Wolf said. "Karts have the ability to bridge all age gaps, that is what makes them so appealing."
For more information about go-kart racing visit www.twisteralleyraceway.tripod.com.
Action returns to Butterfield on Aug. 23. Hotlaps begin at 5 p.m. and admission is free.