Ipswich: Anglia Indoor Karting races towards an exciting future
- Credit: Archant
ANGLIA Indoor Karting is regrouping and looking to the future with an improved management structure, a new fleet of start-of-the-art LPG karts and plans for a second circuit. Sheline Clarke spoke to founding director Keith Barton.
From the outside, Anglia Indoor Karting, tucked away on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Ipswich, looks much like any other industrial unit, except from the black and white chequered flag flying from the roof.
Go inside, however, and it’s a different story.
Set up 22 years ago by business partners Keith Barton and Kevin Ward, Anglia Indoor Karting is a haven where would-be Jenson Buttons can lose themselves for a few hours in some adrenalin-fuelled driving, take part in Grand Prix style competitions and generally have some really good fun.
The business was originally set up as a diversification from Keith and Kevin’s core business as builders converting barns in the Hadleigh area.
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Kevin had been to an indoor karting circuit in London and immediately saw the potential. When the right premises became available they took the plunge and launched the business.
“We didn’t want all our eggs in one basket and at that time the economy was booming and we looked to set up this business,” said Keith. “Then Maggie did what she did and the building trade just stopped immediately. So what had been set up as a side line became our main business and we have been going ever since and we’ve kept going as one after another our competitors have gone bust.”
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Six months ago Kevin retired from the business and sold his shares to Danny Partridge, Keith’s son-in-law, meaning Anglian Indoor Karting is now a family business.
Danny is not new to the scene, however. He worked at the track early in his working life starting as a marshal and progressed to manager before leaving to start a new career with the fire service in Essex, a role he continues alongside his new directorship at Anglia Karting.
Karting is definitely in the family blood as was seen earlier this year when Danny’s son, and Keith’s grandson, 15-year-old Jack Partridge, won the British Junior TKM Karting Championships.
To support the new management structure Georgina Trownson has joined the business as general manager.
Anglia Indoor Karting offers easy to drive karts for all ages. Children between the ages of five and seven can drive battery operated karts on a dedicated mini circuit while ‘cadet karts’ are for beginners and older children. The adult karts have 7.5hp 215cc PLG engines with the capability of reaching 40mph, making them the fastest indoor carts in the business. They are easy to drive with no gears or clutch – just accelerator and break.
“We are at the stage now where we are moving forward and we have got big ideas for a second circuit,” said Keith. “It’s at the planning stage at the moment but the plan is to put in a larger dedicated kids karting track which would give us extra capacity for the younger drivers and free up the main track for adults which will mean we can cater for many more people particularly at weekends, which is when people want to come and drive.
“It’s about reinventing ourselves and making sure we are out there in the market place.
“The climate is exceptionally difficult because we have a lot of fixed costs – the building and maintaining the fleet – but there is an enduring appeal. Most people come in for a bit of fun, but for others it can be the entry route, in a very cost effective manner, into motor sport. Motor sport is very expensive and just to set yourself up can cost thousand of pounds, even for a child. Here you can come in and for just a few quid you can experience all the thrills you would get on an outdoor track with hired equipment and it’s a really good grounding for people to see if they want to progress further and Jack is a really good example of that.”
The main circuit at Anglia Karting is already unique in the area with its ramps and tunnels. Appropriate spirit lifting music is played throughout and commentary all adds to the atmosphere. At the end podium style presentations add the final touch to what is usually a thrilling experience for those taking part.
“Our ongoing challenge is to attract new business,” said Keith, “and that’s where Gerogina comes in.
“It’s a constant wheel; people come and enjoy it for a couple of years and then they find something else to do so it’s a challenge to reinvent yourself and attract new customers who perhaps haven’t tried karting before.”
New general manager Georgina Trownson is keen to promote the business to all ages, male and female.
“There is such a broad mix of people from families – mum, dad and the kids to stag and hen groups and corporate days and lots of kiddies birthday parties, they love it,” she said.
“It’s a unique experience; the track is one of the best and we have a brand new fleet of karts and it’s really exciting. It’s great to see the on and off track banter, particularly with corporate days, which is what makes it so good for team building and entertaining clients in a pretty unusual way.
“Being indoor is a great bonus too because it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, anyone can come in for either a quick spin or a few hours with all the equipment supplied and all the safety checks in place and just let off some steam.”