Although doubts are starting to grow about the 2012 US Grand Prix at Austin's Circuit of the Americas, which just suspended construction, there will be at least one open-wheel car race next year in Texas. It'll just be on a somewhat smaller scale.
The Texas Lone Star Grand Prix kart race is set to go, rain or shine, on March 17-18 in downtown Dallas. Ten different classes of the miniscule-but-ferocious racers will run a course that uses much of the Fair Park track layout from the 1984 Dallas Grand Prix. No controversy, no organizer disputes, no short mophaired series dictators casting aspersions in the press: this one is happening. Team registration opens this Thursday, spectator tickets are a pleasantly affordable $10 per day.
For the uninitiated, shifter karts have next to nothing in common with the lawnmower-powered chuggers that run on the backyard-sized track next to the local putt-putt golf course. A six-speed kart powered by a 125cc two-stroke engine will hit 60 mph in about three seconds and has a top speed approaching 120, with devilishly twitchy handling and lateral grip in the realm of 2Gs. A legion of F1 drivers started in karts as kids, and even for those of us who will never sign a contract with McLaren it is one of the most intensely competitive (and affordable) forms of motorsport currently in existence.
For not much more than the price of a beer at a ballpark, it's a guaranteed way to get a Texas-sized racing fix this year.