Senior staff writer
Not many new businesses open on April Fools’ Day, but that was when the O’Gara family, including former Indianapolis 500 driver Sarah Fisher, opened its multimillion dollar Speedway Indoor Karting center and spacious 1911 Grill.
Family patriarch and matriarch John and Jean O’Gara, who own and operate O’Gara’s Irish Pub in Beech Grove, have added to the image of a revitalized Main Street in Speedway as a destination place.
Proclaimed as “the indoor capital of racing,” the center features a 14-turn, quarter-mile road course with elevation and a sunken, high-banked mini-Bristol oval. The courses drew raves from Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon and veterans Josef Newgarden and Bryan Clauson during a private opening.
A variety of Italian-made CRG karts are available for drivers of all skill levels, who must be at least 8 years old and 42 inches tall.
“We’re sitting next to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so we had to have an oval,” Fisher told Southport’s Robin Miller during a recent “Racer” magazine interview. “I’ve always loved the super-speedways, so we put in a mini-Bristol. Speedway needed an oval like this.”
Family members at the center include owners Andy O’Gara and wife Fisher, manager Casey O’Gara, Tom O’Gara and event coordinators Kyle O’Gara and Colleen Treat.
The O’Garas honor the history of the IMS by naming the grill for the first year of the 500 in addition to the likeness of the Mormon Wasp, original bricks from the track and Indy 500 memorabilia.
“We had to get the track’s permission for use of 1911 and the Mormon Wasp,” John O’Gara said. “We want people to come here (1911 Grill) and feel the history of the Speedway.
The grill is a two-story restaurant and bar with seating for nearly 400 patrons and outside dining.
Restaurant Frank Howard commented, “You look at Massachusetts Avenue, which is a destination; this (Main Street) is developing into a destination.”
The facility (870-1648, www.SiKrting.com) can handle corporate events as its boasts a conference room and seating for 150-plus guests. More than 40 corporate events had been booked before the public opening.
“We encourage business leaders and small groups to develop corporate building through karting because it helps develop communication, cooperation and leadership skills,” Fisher said.
The center is open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. The grill is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday through Thursday; until midnight Friday and Saturday; and 10 p.m. Sunday.