Drivers of all ages chase NASCAR dreams as racing returns to Londonderry kart track
Kart racing is back at Manchester Motordrome, formerly Londonderry Raceway, in Londonderry. (.COURTESY)
Tucked behind an industrial building, across the street from Grenier Field Road fire station, the infield and area surrounding the quarter-mile oval track were once riddled with weeds and litter. That all changed after Concord resident Dan Gelinas set foot on the site last year. A former competitive snowmobiler whose teenage daughter had recently became interested in racing go-karts, Gelinas saw a huge potential in the abandoned racecourse, which in recent years had been used exclusively for bicycle racing.
The owner of an excavation company, Gelinas founded Granite State Karting with partner Shawn Duhaime. After promoting their venture during last September's NASCAR weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, they spent a couple of months refurbishing the Londonderry facility, which they lease from the Nu-Cast Inc., the aluminum casting company headquartered next door.
On busier weekends, there have been up to 60 drivers competing at the site, some of them coming from miles away to get their speed fix.
Competitive racers acquire points throughout the season, similar to the way NASCAR racers do in the Sprint Cup series.
Rhode Islander Lauryn Burd, 18, is an up-and-coming competitive racer who travels regularly around New England.
"We help with the heavy lifting," Chris Pepin said with a grin.
Pepin said the Londonderry track is particularly attractive because it was designed with safety in mind, while its size and width accommodate drivers who prefer to travel at faster speeds.
"I like anything with wheels," said the younger Ellis, who, like many of his friends, has some lofty NASCAR dreams.
"It sure beats standing on the sideline of a baseball field or a hockey rink," Wayne Ellis said.
For Candia resident David Morell, go-karting is a way to keep his father's memory alive.
"If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here today. He planted a seed in us," said the younger Morrell, whose son Robert III began racing at age 7. "It's all about family."
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