KENNEWICK -- Earlier this year, Clayton Hayes heard a friend of his, who runs a seasonal go-cart business in Wenatchee, had come into some surplus carts.
"I thought I'd give it a try," Hayes said, standing in front of his new business.
Fast Track, a new go-cart track at the West Gage Boulevard entrance to Columbia Center mall, opened Tuesday. It offers anyone more than 5 feet tall and 10 years old a chance to zip around a track designed by someone who knows racing.
Hayes grew up around screaming engines. His father ran the automotive program at Columbia Basin College for many years and worked on professional race cars.
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Clayton Hayes has raced go-carts his whole life, most recently in the Rotax Max Challenge, which he said is "about as fast as you can go on a go-cart."
The carts in the mall parking lot can't lay claim to that, but they're the real deal nonetheless.
"This is just about getting out with your buddies and having a good time," Hayes said. "But I prepare (the carts) like I would do for my racing cart."
Unlike racing carts, these feature safety gear, such as seat belts and all-around bumpers.
The carts are powered by Honda CX-200 engines, "probably the most popular go-cart motor in the world," Hayes said.
Unrestricted, that engine could push a cart to about 50 mph. But Hayes designed the track with many tight turns, which make it impossible to reach speeds more than 30 mph.
Just to make sure, he changed the gear ratio to limit the carts' top speed.
And to safely catch those who won't slow down for the tight turns, Hayes has bolted about 1,000 old tires to the pavement. Local Les Schwab and Firestone stores let him use their garbage tires for the summer.
He just had to get them to the track.
"We loaded a 30-foot trailer to the roof and I still took about 20 or 30 loads in my truck," he said, laughing.
The track spans an area of about 200 feet by 90 feet at the west end of the Columbia Center parking lot. Hayes looked far and wide before he set up here.
"I was looking all over the Tri-Cities for about two weeks," he said. "I contacted about 15 businesses."
Columbia Center offered the ideal combination of available space and plenty of potential customers.
A few are finding their way to the new track already, even though Hayes hasn't started advertising. He's seen nothing but happy customers so far, he said.
"Everybody that gets out is smiling," Hayes said.
Fast Track is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
A 10-minute session costs $15 -- cash only.
Drivers must have proper footwear -- no open-toe or open-heel shoes allowed, and no high heels.
For more information, search for "Fast Track Tri-Cities" on Facebook.