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Quiet kart race announced for New West

G-Zero series founder Greg Webster shows off an example of an electric kart that will be racing around the streets of Downtown New Westminster the last weekend in June. - Photo contributed
G-Zero series founder Greg Webster shows off an example of an electric kart that will be racing around the streets of Downtown New Westminster the last weekend in June.
— image credit: Photo contributed

New Westminster will be the first major stop on an electric kart race circuit in Greater Vancouver.

The G-Zero Championship Racing Series is the brainchild of Greg Webster.

He wanted to do regular kart racing but municipalities balked at the noise. So he turned to electric kart racing. Up until now it has been confined to American collegiate competitions.

"It was more of an engineering challenge than a racing challenge," said Webster.

A racing challenge is what he has created. G-Zero announced on Wednesday a six-stop series for Metro Vancouver and Whistler. The New West race will run through Downtown streets June 28-29.

"Within two or three years we will be hopefully as much of a marquee event as the Royal City Show and Shine," said Webster.

Competitors will start on Columbia at Eighth Street. They'll race up Columbia to McKenzie Street where they'll hang a left up the hill to Clarkson Street. They'll go a block down Clarkson to Begbie Street and race down its steep incline to Columbia. From there they'll loop back to a spoon-shaped hairpin turn at the starting line.

The city's topography will make it difficult for the drivers and exciting for the spectators.

"It will be one of more challenging and interesting circuits. We see a lot of potential in people coming out for the whole two days and enjoying the community and introducing New Westminster to our international audience," said Webster.

Mayor Wayne Wright first told a chamber of commerce luncheon last May about the race. The announcement was premature, but Webster said the city has been gung ho about making the race happen.

"New Westminster has been great, the support from the city has been fantastic. Everybody from the mayor on down have been extremely enthusiastic," said Webster. "Other [jurisdictions] have been more difficult. [New Westminster] saw the potential and the value in it quite quickly. They've been quite keen to help us."

Webster said the event will be free for spectators. Revenue will be generated by the grid licences the series will sell to the kart teams and sponsorship. He wouldn't say how much of his own money has been sunk into the series but it is in the six figures.

Team participation will be capped at 40 with 20 already lined up.

"We could technically go with roughly 10 but our goal is the 40," said Webster. "We're getting to the point where a lot of things are starting to line up the way we hoped they would. Things are coming together rather quickly, so we're ready to go."

He said there will be street closures from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, but the racing will be confined to 11 a.m. to about 5 p.m.

Because they're electric, each kart produces a quiet buzz of just 20 decibels. "The wheel slide is louder than the engine," said Webster. "The neat thing is you can hear the drivers yelling at each other."

Webster and G-Zero will show off their karts and talk about the event at an open house to be held at the Network Hub in the River Market on April 10. It is tentatively scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m.

For more information go to the series Facebook page (facebook.com/gzeroracing) or its website www.gzeroracing.ca.

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