One last ride? Sorry Dom, I’m going to need one more race. And another. How about I just take over the track? That’s the feeling you get when the checkered flag comes down at Autobahn Birmingham.
The indoor Autobahn track in Birmingham is a relatively new addition to the area. Opened a few months, it plays host to families, corporate events and people like Alex and I.
It’s a Formula One style go-kart that hits 50mph. What more needs to be said? It’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Autobahn is just over an hour from where we live in Gadsden. People living in Birmingham? What are you waiting for? It’s affordable, safe and a perfect way to scratch the competitive itch.
Let me break down a visit to Autobahn Birmingham.
Signup is a breeze
No reservation is needed. You can park and race. There’s a caveat to that. If there are corporate events, the track can be closed for the company. Most regional companies have used the track for team building events.
Trust fall or whipping by your boss at 50mph? Exactly.
So while you can park and race, you may want to call ahead. Weekdays are pretty clear. When we dropped by, we nearly had the complex to ourselves. That was on a Thursday before school let out.
Weekends? You might have to wait a bit, but there’s plenty to do.
Once through the door, you’ll notice the company puts the focus on the track. Everything is clean and uncluttered. Your first step is to hit the signup process where you fill out a standard form – name, date of birth, etc.
It’s here you get a chance to enter the name for the leaderboard. Have fun with it. I wasn’t paying attention, but Alex? He couldn’t resist ‘One Last Ride’ announced over the PA system.
50mph on a go-kart. Yeah, there is going to be a safety briefing. It’s fast but thorough. You’ll know the rules of the track in no time. What impressed me here was the presentation. Ever thought about what it’s like to be in a professional driver briefing? That’s what Autobahn seemed like to me.
Here are the main rules. The Karts are not bumper cars. No bumping or hitting the wall. You get two warnings before you are pulled from the track for the day. You guessed it; I tapped the wall on my first lap at under full power.
What about passing? An employee will be on a stand with signs that show when you can pass another driver. When you see it, slow up and let the other driver pass. In both races, Alex and I both started in staggered positions.
The last race I wasn’t trying to grab footage, and I couldn’t catch him. That’s with me posting half-second better lap times. It would be interesting to see how the passing works in person. Maybe next time.
Enough with signing up and safety. You came for the go-karts. Strapping in you feel like it’s a bit overdone. Four-point harnesses, full helmet and even a headsock. It becomes readily apparent the reason for the harness over a simple lap belt when you’re on the track.
Tip on the helmets? If you wear glasses, size up. I forgot to wear contacts the day we went, and it was a mini adventure to see which would fit. I also tend to keep my glasses adjusted tight. It’s something to be aware of but not a dealbreaker.
Each kart at Autobahn Birmingham is electric. Adult Karts rate 15kw and can hit 50mph. Junior Karts max out at 8kw and around 35mph.
Don’t worry if you suddenly forget everything you were just told. Each Kart can be remotely operated, and the power can be cut to all the karts on the track by the staff.
Living Life ⅛ of a mile at a time
Don’t want a speeding ticket, but always wanted to play out your racing fantasies? Come on, who didn’t leave Furious 7 driving a bit over the speed limit? Ok, maybe it was more than a bit. Don’t judge.
Autobahn Birmingham is your ticket to do it without risking fines from your local police department.
You’re thinking 50mph isn’t fast enough. Trust me, it is. Matter of fact, on the Birmingham track, good luck hitting 50.
When you visit Autobahn Birmingham, think Formula One, not Nascar. Get ready for plenty of hairpin turns and not enough room to max out the Kart. Could you if you came out of the final turn perfectly? I think so, but the first turn is a hard right.
Tap the brakes and punch it through the turn and you get the feeling of drifting a go-kart. It’s here you’re glad the company opted for the four-point harness. You will learn the art of braking and hitting the accelerator out of each turn.
Getting used to the Kart’s speed and handling is made easy thanks to the practice lap. The controller keeps your power dialed back through the first lap as you hit each turn.
One thing I wish the track had? A backside straightaway. Just to hit top speed without timing up turn one.
Perfect for a rainy day and parties
Stuck inside due to weather? It happens all too often in the area during the winter. Or, maybe you just need a rush that doesn’t break the bank. Autobahn offers that.
On your way home and want to hit a 14-lap (adult) or 12-lap (junior) race? It’s $20. Have enough time to stack races? Monday-Thursday offer three races for $40. Weekends bump the price to $50.
You know you’re going to want one more chance to post the best lap time. A five-race package is priced at $75 and eight races for $100.
The track offers a variety of packages for parties and corporate events.
Final verdict? One more race. It’s hard to walk away after spending a couple hours in a high-performance go-kart.
**Big thanks to Autobahn Birmingham for inviting us out. And thanks to Jodi for giving us free reign at the track.**