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  • CBS Minnesota

    Atwater Karting Speedway celebrates 25 years of competitive go-kart races

    By John Lauritsen,


    Atwater speedway celebrates 25 years while honoring late volunteer 03:01

    ATWATER, Minn. — The racing season is almost upon us and there's a track in Kandiyohi County that's dominated by kids.

    "Everybody gets itchy about January. This time of year, the kids are excited to get going," said Jake Frericks.

    It's a rite of spring in the town of Atwater. When the weather gets warm, the racers get racing.

    But at this track, the vehicle of choice is a go-kart and most of the competition is too young for a driver's license.

    "Usually nervous and excited at the same time," said Tayden Frericks, a 10-year-old racer. "When it's time to go I get fired up and go out and race."

    This youth movement began 25 years ago. That's when Greg Tauer and others got the idea to open a competitive go-kart track. They got help from the city and the Lions Club and cleared out a spot on the edge of town.

    "It turned out to be way bigger than we ever thought it would. Our first year we had racers from Thunder Bay, Ontario and Nebraska," said Greg.

    Competitors can be as young as 5 years old and kids can sign up for whichever race class suits them best. Often, the entire race is neck and neck, the winners get trophies and sometimes money.

    "It gets very competitive. A lot of our kids have gone on to race stock cars. My middle son went on and worked in the NASCAR industry for 14 years," said Greg.

    Small-town volunteers fuel these races, but a couple of months ago, Atwater lost one of its best. Tasha Fester, a do-it-all volunteer and mother of three young racers, passed away unexpectedly. She was just 33 years old.

    "Tasha was the kind of person who had 30 hours in her day. She got everything done. She took care of it all," said Allen Walther, a volunteer.

    "She put her all into it. She just loved it. Racing was their life," said Stacy Danielson, a friend and volunteer. "Above all, she was here for her kids. Cheering them on, she recorded every, single one of their races."

    That's why Atwater's 25th season will be dedicated to Tasha's memory.

    "So when you are coming around the corners, this one is a little wider, so you have more grip instead of just coming around with a smaller tire like that," said Tayden while explaining the tire difference on his go-kart.

    He's hoping to take home his first checkered flag after a series of third place finishes last season. This year he's going full throttle.

    "Spinning out can get fun or it depends on if you flip, then you are sitting there like this. It's not very fun," said Tayden.

    Track maintenance also gets pretty creative- and it takes a village to make it happen. As one of the few remaining go-kart speedways left, the town and its racing families are looking forward to the next 25 years.

    "There's a lot that goes into it that people don't see and those people step up and pick that up for us. Make our job a lot easier," said Jake.

    Atwater Karting Speedway will have 11 Saturday races this year. Admission is free.

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