Avondale's NOLA Motorsports Park Revs its Engines
The senses will tell a person almost all they need to know about the NOLA Motorsports Park within seconds of arriving facility in Avondale.
There is the constant faint smell of burning rubber permeating throughout the 850acre area. In the distance there is the sight of tall, green forest trees that have been knocked down like dominoes as a part of the park's on-going massive construction projects, which so far have cleared 600 acres.
And all around are the squeals of high-revving go-kart and car engines, and the low, lumbering hum of professional motorcycles speeding around long and short tracks.
Even though it has been open for a few months the Nola Motorsports Park is striving to make inroads with the New Orleans-area thrill-seeking community and constantly trying to refine itself and present a top-notch driving experience for professional racing leagues throughout the country.
The park has an official grand opening in July, but it's open to the public now seven days a week for parties, go-kart rentals, men's and women's racing leagues, service shops, driver coaches and professional tracks where people can see if their street cars can handle the rigors of a being on a professional course.
"Right now we're fully operational, but we're a work in progress," said Wesly Ratcliff, the park's director of business development.
The NOLA Motorsports Park has completed phase one of a three-phase project that is expected to include the addition of another professional track and condos within the next two years.
The first phase consisted of the creation of professional accelerator kart tracks; professional storage garages; a restaurant; and a north track with a single lane drag strip, professional car and motorcycle track and pit lanes.
The majority of the current action at the Nola Motorsports Park has come on the rental and team kart-racing tracks, which have 88 different configurations that organizers can use to maximize the driving experience.
"We've found that the design of the tracks is family-friendly, and we hope that impact is better driving," Ratcliff said.
The normal cost for a 10-minute kart rental is $25, except for Mondays when the price is $15.
The park also has mechanics available on sight that repair and sell professional karts.
Charlie Swayne, the former owner of the Iron Rock Raceway in Austin, Texas who sponsors a national go-kart racing team, said he likes the kart-racing experience at the NOLA Motorsports Park.
"This facility is one of the nicest facilities for racing that we go to in the country," Swayne said. "Some of the tracks we go to are too rough and too narrow, among other things. I like the size, the high speeds and the fact that there is plenty of room for passing here."
Ratcliff said the goal of the park is to become of the top destinations for tourists and professional racing leagues.
He said the Avondale area was selected for the park because of its spaciousness, its proximity to downtown, and its availability through Highway 90, the Huey P. Long bridge and Interstate 310.
"We're just 14 miles from downtown," he said.
The park received a big boost for its professional racing future last December when it was selected to host the Big Kahuna Nationals season finale AMA Pro Racing event on October 5-7. The track also will host Grand-Am teams' private testing sessions.
"The people with the organizations who have come to the facility love it," Ratcliff said.
And that's all that the NOLA Motorsports Park can ask for.
The park has a while before its work is completely done, but what has been finished has given its organizers hope.
"Right now everybody is having a blast," Ratcliff said.