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Racing league offers lessons in sportsmanship, driving skills for kids

Sportsmanship, along with driving and racing skills, is emphasized in the youth branch of the Raleigh Area Public Safety League.

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Racing league offers fun for kids
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
Rush Hour Karting in Garner isn't your usual go-kart experience.

While a go-kart at a traditional track might push 12 mph, the karts at Rush Hour make it to 40 mph. That's why the business' tagline is "serious adult fun."

"These are really fast go-karts," owner Adam Saad tells me.

Saad included a small fleet of junior karts when he opened about five years ago. The karts reach almost 30 mph. But he just never really pushed them as much as the adult karts.

That changed a couple of years ago when Jeffrey Hammerstein and Chris Colangelo, a couple of Rush Hour patrons who also are local paramedics, started the Raleigh Area Public Safety League. The league features races against different law enforcement and emergency services agencies. When the racers' kids saw how much fun their parents were having, they wanted to get involved too, Saad tells me.

That's when the league's youth racing branch was born. The league is for ages 8 to 14. Girls and boys are involved. The goal is to provide kids with a chance to learn and be involved in motor sports at the entry level. Saad says that many NASCAR drivers got their start on the go-kart circuit. Sportsmanship, along with actually driving and racing skills, is emphasized.

"They don’t accept any kind of rough housing, bad behavior, bad attitude," Saad said. "They get immediately nipped in the bud. These kids are really taught good manners and they respect each other."

Because the karts go so fast, the kids are suited up. They wear a helmet, neck brace and head sock under their helmet and buckle up with a four-point seatbelt. The karts also have lots of safety equipment too.

The next season is starting now. And a youth kart handling and racing skills course is a prerequisite for anybody who wants to get involved.

Saad says the best way to find out if this is something your child would want to get involved in is to head out to Rush Hour, check out the facility and watch a race or practice.

You can watch the youth league from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Rush Hour when participants will have a practice day.

And you can watch police, fire and other emergency workers race at the next RAPS public safety endurance race at 3 p.m. Oct. 1.

Go to RapsRacing.com for more details on the racing leagues. And go to Rush Hour's website for more information on what it offers, which includes birthday parties for kids.

"It's really grown beyond our expectations," Saad said. "A lot of these kids, they don’t want to play football, they don’t want to play basketball. It’s a new avenue, a new sport that they can participate in with other kids."

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