Although the first year of operations at PGP Motorsports Park has been a tremendous success, with accolades coming from guests and racers of all stripes, owners Paul and Juli Zalud are not resting on their laurels.
To that end, the Northwest’s premier multi-purpose motorsports park is pleased to announce the addition of champion kart driver Mike Smith to the PGP team to oversee the rental kart program, including the various rental kart racing series.
“This is going to be a lot of fun, the opportunity to be a part of this PGP and everything that comes with it,” Smith said. “The rental kart fleet is the best available, and the track is incredible to drive. It’s got great flow, and the opportunities to race your way through the field are endless. It has some exciting elevation changes that are a ton of fun to drive. I can see why people would fall in love with it right away.”
Smith, who started kart racing as “a munchkin down at Pat’s Acres in Oregon,” has a lengthy resume of indoor racing honors, including winning the 2008 U.S. Indoor Kart Championship and being the top-placing American in the Indoor Kart World Championship in both 2007 and 2008. He won the Oregon Indoor Kart Championship and the 12 Hours of Dromo in 2009, the same year he beat Jeff Gordon for a second time in the NASCAR champion’s annual charity kart race.
Most recently the race director and track manager at Apex Karting in Tumwater, Wash., Smith founded Smith Racing Development (SRD) in 2008 as an indoor karting racing team that would go on to win national championships in 2008 and 2009. Under the SRD banner he is also a driver coach and instructor, for both indoor and outdoor racers, and Smith founded Indoor Karting Challenge series in both Oregon and Washington.
Although most of his experience is with the indoor variety of karting, Smith said he can’t wait to start overseeing the rental fleet at PGP, where racing is on rain or shine.
“PGP is way wider than any indoor track,” Smith said. “You can put 30 plus karts on the track at one time — that’s huge! You don’t get to do that anywhere, not even at the Indoor Nationals. That’s one of the really, really cool things about PGP’s rental kart series and rentals.”
Just 10 months after its opening on June 20, 2009, PGP was named a “best destination” in the KING 5 Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington 2010 contest. The .82-mile track has subtle elevation changes and multiple configurations that make it perfect for all categories of racing, including rental and competition karting — featuring the exclusive “Stars of PGP” racing series — Supermoto, drifting, car lapping, arrive-and-drive rentals, corporate events, group parties, practice days, and more.
But early success hasn’t stopped the Zaluds from looking for ways to make the racing experience better for PGP’s customers, especially those who enjoy piloting rental karts.
“Adding Mike and his extensive experience with indoor karting will help us in a lot of ways,” Paul Zalud said. “Making sure the rental kart fleet is well-maintained so daily guests will have karts that are the same in performance, tightening the rules and regulations in the racing leagues, and just providing overall assistance for operations.”
While at Apex, Smith created the National Indoor Karting Association as a regional sanctioning body overseeing the Northwest Triple Crown Series with events at SyKart Indoor Racing Centers in Portland, Ore., and Tukwila, Wash., and at Apex and PGP. In September, PGP will host of the NIKA Northwest Championship finals, at which a regional champion will be crowned. That champion will then represent the Pacific Northwest at the U.S. Karting Championship.
Smith knows whoever wins that crown at PGP later this year will be deserving of the chance to race for the national championship. With up to 14 turns, the layout is designed so that horsepower can be an advantage at the South end — longer straights and hard braking corners allowing for maximum passing zones — while the North end is very technically rewarding to the pilots with the best driving skills.
“One of the issues with racing indoors is stagnation, the ‘been there, done that’ of seeing just one or two track configurations,” said Smith. “At PGP, you’ve got the North Loop, the South Loop, then the Oval, then the North with the Oval, South with the oval. And of course, there is the one-and-a-half-minute long full track. Getting bored with them? We can run them all backwards. So many different combinations on one track give me a lot of options for the rental kart series. That’s something I’ll be exploiting to the teeth.”
On the Web: Visit www.pacificgp.com, become a fan of “Pacific Grand Prix” on Facebook or follow @pacificgp on Twitter.
About PGP Motorsports Park: PGP Motorsports Park is the Northwest’s premier multi-purpose racing facility and is located in close proximity to the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Named “Best Guys Weekend Destination” for 2010 in the KING 5 Evening Magazine Best of Western Washington contest, the track is easy to get to and inexpensive to utilize, making PGP a rare combination of top-level racing excitement and affordability. For more information on PGP events and services, visit www.pacificgp.com or call (253) 639-7223.