Downtown Modesto was transformed into a Go Kart speedway this weekend.
The first racers of the inaugural Modesto Grand Prix took to the starting line Saturday morning.
More than 400 racers of all ages from 28 countries showed off their skills. Organizers said this is a perfect event for a perfect size city- not too big, not too small, just right.
The city was hit hard by the recession of 2008, and has since shown some signs of recovery. They hope an event of this enormity would help it propel into a better future.
“When times get tough, people get creative,” Chris Murphy of the Modesto Grad Priz said. “The city of Modesto gets smart because we’re looking back at our heritage. We’re the home of ‘American Graffiti’ and that means we love car racing, so when car racing comes to town, our city love it!”
Organizers expect at least 7,000 to 10,000 spectators each day. With almost all nearby hotels fully booked and high visitation numbers at local businesses, they hope the event brings in at least a $10 million economic impact.
Many of the star drivers do not even have real state issued driver’s licenses.
“I’m 11, and I started racing 5 years ago,” Myles Farhan said. The preteen from Upland, CA is the current point leader in the National Pro Kart series in his 8-12 age division.
This race is especially important for one local man, who said he feels the pressure.
“I have been watching races like this all my life, but I never would have imagined it would be ten minutes from home,” Cody Hodgson said. “It’s been a while since I have these kind of nerves in a race, because not only do I want to do good for myself, but I want to do good because I got a lot of people here watching me race.”
The 22 year old from Escalon said he started racing as a young boy. Now, he is currently ranked in the top ten in his Pro Division.
“Oh, this is definitely not Mario Kart,” Hodgson said. “We’re doing about 100 miles per hour, and the little 8 year-olds are doing 70 miles per hour!”
The event continues through Sunday in Downtown Modesto.