Several Nextel Cup drivers got their starts driving go-karts.
It’s never too late to begin your go-kart career, according to Nate and Marti Anderson, the owners of Thundering Valley Raceway in St. Albans.
So they have started a Thursday Night Thunder program to put people 18 years of age and older in a go-kart.
It costs $100 per person per session and goes from 6 to 9 p.m.
There is instruction and practice followed by a heat race and a feature race.
Participants must have a valid driver’s license.
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” said Nate Anderson. “But nobody would let me use their race karts.”
So Anderson spent $25,000 and bought 10 race karts that he uses for his Thursday Night Thunder program. He also bought the helmets, neck braces and other safety equipment .
The Andersons also have instructors and other support people on hand.
Anderson had two drivers attend the first session last week. There will be Thursday Night Thunder programs right into October.
“They’ll get 60-80 laps every Thursday,” said Anderson. “It depends on the experience of the driver. Some drivers will get more practice laps.”
By introducing people to the sport, the Andersons are hoping to attract more drivers for their Saturday night racing cards. Those shows will switch to Sunday afternoons in September.
“This will give them a chance to have an experience and judge if they want to do it,” said Anderson.
Nate Anderson said the 10 race karts and their one-fifth mile asphalt track will also be available to corporations or groups of individuals on a rental basis.
“They can come out, have a cookout and hold their own racing series,” said Nate Anderson.
Anderson said there has been an “awful lot of interest” in the Thursday Night Thunder program and he is hopeful it will flourish.
The program involves a “real racing environment” including flagmen, pit stewards and crews, he added.
Drivers are taught what the different flags mean during training sessions.
The Andersons are in their seventh year owning the track and they have been attracting an average of 45 karts in their six Saturday night classes. They range from the kid kart exhibitions for ages 5-7 to Senior Champ Animal Class for drivers age 30 and older who can weigh up to 415 pounds.
Gates open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, practices are from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and the racing begins at 6 p.m.
Sunday races will feature gates opening at 9:30 a.m., practice from 10 to noon and racing at 12:30 p.m.
There is also a lawn mower racing series on specific Sundays in July and August and two dates on Saturdays in September.
The Andersons have added restrooms this year at an expense of $10,000.
Nate Anderson said the kart counts are down this year due to the price of gas and the economy but “things are going well. We’re pleased.”
He said they have reduced the amount of race dates from 20 to 17.
Anyone interested in racing can call the track at 938-3007.
Caisse eyeing Busch East win
Sean Caisse of Pelham, N.H., said Cherryfield’s Andy Santerre has been instrumental in his fast start.
Santerre, who drove to four consecutive Busch North (now East) points championships, stepped out of his car after last season to become the crew chief for Caisse and run his Santerre Motorsports team.
Caisse already has two wins and a second in five races and is third in points, 49 points behind leader Mike Olsen.
He will try to move up in today’s 5:10 p.m. New England 125 Busch East race at New Hampshire International Speedway.
“Andy’s an awesome teacher,” said Caisse. “I had always looked at Andy as being very professional. I never realized he had a personality off the racetrack.
“He’s an awesome guy and I respect him more than anybody out there. That’s why our chemistry has worked so well. We get along so well off the track,” said Caisse.
Santerre said Caisse has been doing an exceptional job.
“We should have won a couple more races but we broke a couple things on the car,” said Santerre.