Two years ago, David Levine was a successful driver in one of stock car racing’s top levels. The newly relocated Mooresville resident was advancing his career in hopes of reaching his sport’s pinnacle.
By the next season, however, sponsorship money began to dry up and Levine found himself out of a ride. To satisfy his thirst for competition and to hone his driving skills, the 24-year old took to a style of racing more local to his newly adopted hometown.
Every Wednesday evening, Levine and 39 other drivers visit Mooresville’s Go Pro Motorplex to participate in the karting facility’s rental leagues, a competitive option for drivers who don’t own their own go-karts.
Levine ran away with the lightweight division championship in the 2017 summer series, his first league title. The Motorplex has completed its spring and summer seasons and its fall league will run in October-November.
“I do the rental league to race out here for fun and to keep up on some skills, as much as I can,” said Levine, 24. “And if there are some networking opportunities there, there’s some networking opportunities. It’s mostly for me to come in and have fun and blow off a little steam from the work week.”
A Furman University graduate, Levine paid his dues in some lower levels of racing including karting from the age of 11. In 2015, he moved to Mooresville from Highland Park, Ill., to pursue a career in racing and secured a full-time ride in the Automobile Racing Club of America.
Levine also ran the season’s final NASCAR truck series race but all of those promising prospects disappeared by 2016. Without sponsorship dollars, Levine’s best opportunity to race last summer was at the GoPro Motorplex.
It was around the same time that Levine landed a job as a real estate agent. Though he has more experience at racing’s upper levels than most of his Motorplex colleagues, Levine has more in common with them than not.
Most of the drivers work full-time jobs that help them support their racing hobby. And their hobby provides a nice mid-week stress relief.
The 0.7 mile, 11-turn GoPro Motorplex road course, which provides recreational kart renting opportunities to anyone 16 years and older with a valid driver’s license, hosts plenty of organized races for adults and youth who own their go-karts. Rental Leagues, in which Levine competes, are a lower-budget, less intensive opportunity for those with a competitive mind-set.
Each rental race season includes five weeks of races. Each Wednesday includes three rounds and each race’s starting lineup is determined by two pre-race qualifying laps. Points are awarded according to finish and they accumulate throughout the season.
The Motorplex has a fleet of 25 rental karts. The karts assigned to each driver by a random draw.
Will Munro, the facility’s shop manager, supervises a three-man crew that regularly maintain the karts and is responsible for keeping them as close in ability to each other as possible.
“Essentially they are 13-horsepower, 55 mph go-karts,” said Munro, 24, of Mooresville. “They’re probably the fastest ones you’ll find in the country. They are fun.”
Brothers Zack and Jay Strowd have competed in Motorplex rental leagues since the track opened in 2012. Their racing pedigree is credited to their father Jim, a car enthusiast who has has also worked as a driving instructor at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Zack Strowd is a 40-year old Huntersville resident who works as an architect. He races in the same lightweight division as Levine. Strowd has won two rental league championships including this past spring.
“I’ve done a couple of the Kart Challenges with owner karts on the weekend and really enjoyed it,” said Strowd. “It’s a lot like (racing in the rental leagues, but) it’s a little bit more intense. You have your own equipment. It’s on your own dime. These rental karts are great because you go out there and race them and hand them back over.”
Rental league drivers pay $85 to race each week or $350 in advance to compete in the entire season. Katelin Longbrake, the facility’s vice president of marketing and public relations, says both weight divisions’ weekly races routinely sell out.
Strowd and Levine both say they aspire to own their own karts at some point. Levine added that they can range in price from $2,000 to $20,000.
Drivers are encouraged to advance register online.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
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