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Autobahn adding a public attraction

Racing club one of three new recreation venues available to public

Joliet’s country club for racing enthusiasts is growing and getting ready to open its go-kart track to the public next year.

The Autobahn Country Club will become one of three new venues for recreation on the south end of Joliet when an expanded go-kart track is completed.

The Joliet Country Club opens its golf course to the public in the spring. The Joliet Park District opened its new Nowell Park Recreation Center in October.

The Autobahn Country Club has been open to the public for special events, but this is the first time that the club will make one of its tracks available for regular public use.

The go-kart track should be open to the public by July, Autobahn club President Mark Basso said.

“We thought it was time to invest in the kart facility to make it one of the best in the Midwest really,” Basso said.

The track is being expanded from a half-mile in length to seven-tenths of a mile. It’s getting a 12-foot elevation that will descend into a corkscrew and an 8 percent bank.

“It’s like a little NASCAR track,” Basso said.

Autobahn plans to charge $30 for 10 minutes of driving on the track.

The club will provide Margate Knight go-karts and an orientation session before drivers get on the track.

Autobahn celebrates its 15th anniversary next year.

Club membership stands at 440 with 50 members added in 2018, Basso said.

The kart track is part of an expansion plan that includes renovations now underway at the clubhouse, plans for a playground and gazebo area and construction of a new clubhouse.

The expanded go-kart track and playground are part of a family-oriented approach to Autobahn’s next phase of development.

Scott Bowman of Downers Grove, who joined the club in August 2017, said he, his wife and two sons all race go-karts at Autobahn.

“We go there and we can spend four or five hours,” Bowman said. “We sometimes bring a lunch and have a picnic.”

Bowman said there is a family atmosphere at the club.

“My son Samuel [age 9] races against younger kids all the time,” he said.

More recreation

Autobahn’s go-kart announcement in November coincided with an older Joliet club’s decision to open up its facility.

The owners of the Joliet Country Club will open the club golf course to the public in the spring.

The Joliet Country Club has been around since the first decade of the 20th century, and management is counting on community curiosity to draw in golfers.

Like Autobahn’s tracks, the Joliet Country Club golf course has been available for special events such as fundraisers. But this marks the first time it will be open on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the Joliet Park District reports a good response to the opening of the Nowell Park Recreation Center.

“We have a lot of gym rentals and room rentals, as well as our fitness memberships, which are totaling about 190 to date,” park district Executive Director Tom Carstens said. “Overall, it’s a solid opening to that facility.”

Carstens expects more activity in the spring as park programs pick up at the Nowell Park Recreation Center.

East Side access

Located in Nowell Park along Route 53, the facility was built to provide an indoor recreation center to residents in the city’s older East Side. The Joliet Country Club also is on the East Side.

All three venues are south of Interstate 80, and the Autobahn Country Club is located in the middle of CenterPoint Intermodal Center-Joliet, the hub of Joliet’s growing logistics industry.

Autobahn founders picked the location in large part because it was an industrial neighborhood where the roar of engines would not be a nuisance. Semitrailers continuously pass by the club entrance on weekdays, although Basso said roads are fairly quiet on weekends.

The arrangement with the industrial neighbors apparently is working.

“It’s nice,” Basso said. “They don’t care about our noise, and we don’t care about their trucks.”

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