QUINCY — Bigger and better.
That’s what Terry Traeder is envisioning in 2022 when it comes to the Grand Prix of Karting at South Park, plus the regular bi-monthly competition at TNT Kartways in West Quincy, Mo.
“I think the growth in both will continue,” Traeder said.
Traeder is a former world champion karter who serves as Grand Prix organizer, owner of TNT Kartways and runs the TNT Golf Cars and Motorsports business in downtown Quincy.
“(Racers and fans) around the country know how big racing is in the Quincy area and how much interest there is in karting here,” Traeder said. “We can’t thank this community enough for the support it has shown to the Grand Prix since it returned (in 2018) and to the way it has supported TNT Kartways through the years.”
The 2022 race, scheduled for June 11-12, will be the fourth such event since it returned after a 17-year hiatus. There was no race in 2020 due to the pandemic. The 2021 event drew 368 entrants from 17 states, the most in both categories since the Grand Prix returned to the twisting 1.125-mile South Park course in 2018.
“The Grand Prix is again one of the major karting events in the United States,” Traeder said.
Ekartinbgnews.com listed the Grand Prix as one of the top 10 races in the United States.
“The website called the Grand Prix one of the most unique races anyone will ever see,” Traeder said.
Traeder, 70, said the support of Quincy area businesses has been vital to the rebirth of the Grand Prix, specifically noting the support of Mark Twain Casino, Busch beer, Hoosier Tires, Quincy Medical Group, Titan Wheel and Knapheide.
The Grand Prix’s original run was 1970-2001, a 32-year stretch that put Quincy on the world karting map, drawing a record 625 participants in 1994. Interest in karting began to lag in the mid-to-late 1990s. By the time Gus Traeder, the founder and longtime promoter of the Grand Prix, announced the race was ending, the entry list had dwindled to 130.
The sport was resurrected largely through the introduction of the Ignite karts, produced by Margay Racing in St. Louis. The Ignite karts leveled the playing field with their sealed engines and low cost ($4,500), opening the sport to a wider base of participants and placing the emphasis more on skill than checkbook.
“This has brought families back to the sport,” Traeder said. “There are now a lot more people involved, and for all the right reasons.”
That added interest has shown in the kart counts at TNT Kartways, which regularly attracts up to 60 karts on race weekends spring through fall. TNT Kartways celebrated its 60th anniversary this season with a number of special events, including the season-ending race for the fledgling Ignite series, which drew 79 karts from across the midwest.
The ongoing improvements to TNT Kartways will continue next year, Traeder said. The track has undergone an $85,000 resurfacing project, the first improvement of that nature since 1972. Larger pit and storage areas, plus other cosmetic improvements, also are on tap in the coming year(s). The track can accommodate about 100 racing teams, a number Traeder hopes to triple by the time the proposed $250,000 improvement project is completed.
Traeder said the track is a non-profit entity, with all money that is generated from entry fees, sponsors, etc., put back into the facility.
When TNT Kartways opened in 1961, it quickly became one of the sport’s destination sites. It was once featured on “ABC WIde World of Sports.” The track has hosted more national meets than any other site in the nation, but it has not entertained a national championship race since 1994.
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