Need for speed? R1 Indoor Karting fills it

Need for speed? R1 Indoor Karting fills it

Mike Hezemans in one of his new $12,000 go-karts at the newly-opened R1 Indoor Karting in Lincoln. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

LINCOLN – I don’t typically have a need for speed, but give me a helmet and put me in a controlled environment like the track at the newly opened R1 Indoor Karting, and it’s on.

I met owner Mike Hezemans at his new 72,000-square-foot facility in the Collyer Business Center on Higginson Avenue in Lincoln last Friday, lured with a promise of a go-kart ride unlike any I’d taken before.

Hezemans, a professional driver from the Netherlands and the operating partner who designed the track, explained to me how he wants to take the go-karting phenomenon of Europe and help it catch on in the Northeast U.S.

I knew Hezemans was serious when he said that each of the battery-operated state-of-the-art go-karts costs about $12,000. The facility itself, which will include the track, bowling, indoor playground and restaurant, has cost upwards of $5 million to develop so far.

After giving me a tour of the facility, including showing me a huge new restaurant set to open in the spring called Fuel Restaurant and Lounge, Hezemans had me sit through the training video. Each new driver is required to get their license before getting on the track.

I told Hezemans and his brother, Lors Hezemans, that I’d need the biggest helmet available for my extra large head. They found the only one with an XXL emblazoned in white across the front, and I jammed it on my head. It just fit.

I took off around the track, pressing the pedal to the floor as I accelerated and skidded around the corners. Joe Lembo, who’s running promotions at the facility and served as my volunteer photographer, had told me the top time on the track was about 30 seconds for a lap, achieved by Lors Hezemans, and it felt like I was pretty close to that. None of the people watching through the windows were laughing at me, so I thought I might look pretty good. Racers can get up to 40 miles per hour or more on the highest setting, said Lembo, but workers are able to decrease speeds or stop the machines if they need to.

The adrenaline was pumping as I raced around and around the track, all by myself and free to go as fast as I could.

I finished and wobbled over to Lembo, asking him how I did.

“You were around 40,” he said.

“Forty miles an hour?” I asked, excited at my rookie success.

“No, 40 seconds,” he said, smiling.

“Wow,” I said, not feeling nearly so pumped anymore. There were spots I felt like I could shave off seconds if I had more experience, I told Lembo. He told me I was already starting to think like a professional racer.

I hadn’t realized until I finished and stepped out of the go-kart how intense the driving had been. Employees advise people not to eat before they drive, said Lembo. Go-karting isn’t for the faint of heart, he said.

Watch it in action:



Owners of R1 Indoor Karting offer the main adult track and the youth track. For big races and events, the tracks can be combined for a much longer race.

The go-karting track and restaurant/bowling facility will be unlike anything else in the area, said Hezemans. The restaurant, located on a second level, will come complete with tall glass windows for viewing the races below, a glass kitchen, rotating pizza oven and large TVs for watching sports. The entire second-floor space will be designed with a European flair. It will have four bowling lanes, party rooms for VIP functions, and 497 total seats, said Hezemans.

Lembo said he’s excited as a Rhode Islander to see a new form of entertainment now in play. The state needs more venues that function as regional attractions, he said. He said Lincoln officials have been great about allowing a new kind of investment.

Pricing at R1 Indoor Karting varies by the number of races desired. The price is $25 per ticket for one race, with the per-ticket price decreasing as the number of races increases, up to 100 races, which carries a $10 per ticket fee. Licenses are available for an extra fee and are valid for one year. For more information, visit www.r1karting.com .

Breeze reporter Ethan Shorey maneuvers a curve at an undetermined speed.
Shorey before taking off.