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AVON - Randy Pierson is the owner of Avon Marine, a boat storage and repair shop in central Minnesota. Randy also has an incredible hobby: Professional kart racing.

Pierson always enjoyed the thrill of going fast. He participated in formula one boat racing for 20 years before discovering kart racing at a Christmas party in 2005.

"We had a Christmas party where we went to a kart track, and it was really a lot of fun." Pierson said, "Then we discovered there were other tracks and other karts that go quicker."

The experience motivated Pierson to build these karts and create a racing team with his son Tim, along with friends David Gemignani, James McMahon, Tim Pratt, and Gary Palmer. Together they formed GPI Racing in 2005.

The team races around the country, some events have hundreds of fellow kart racers participating.

The team started near the bottom of the standings, but has steadily improved year after year. This year Tim, James, and David finished 2nd-4th overall against the best in the nation.

A half dozen of these karts can be found in the back of Avon Marine. Randy and his team built the karts and maintain them through the season.

These aren't your typical carnival go-karts.

GPI Racing

The karts are just an inch or so above the ground, and can reach speeds over 125 miles per hour. They don't slow down much, even while making turns. The karts can maintain an average speed of over 100 miles per hour, depending on the track.

The combination of speed, and the openness of the kart can create an adrenaline rush like no other.

"It's a way different experience than going fast on a car or boat since you're an inch from the ground, the sensation that you get is insane." Tim Pierson said.



Even with the small karts and high speeds, the karting community is sure to keep safety first. Every driver suits up in full uniform before being strapped in to the kart before the race.

The team says crashing a kart is always a possibility, even though injuries are low. Mechanical problems are bound to happen at times during the season. Team member James McMahon says that he can still always find enjoyment in the racing, even if he wipes-out or breaks something in the process.

"There's an enjoyment up until that point....and then there's an enjoyment afterwards when I can laugh at my misfortune." McMahon said. "I have a tendency to break things, I'm an aggressive driver and I don't think that's going away."

A short video of an accident that can happen while racing:

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Above everything else, the team enjoys the competition and the karting community.

"The karting community to me was the most open, Pierson said, "we're like a big family, everybody kind of helped one another, and that was the greatest thing about it."

"Everyone knew shifter karts were the top of the line, with the best people." Gemignani said, "When I was younger I thought that was the coolest thing ever. That was my goal and dream."

With a never give up attitude and craving for speed, GPI racing continues to improve. Randy works hard at Avon Marine getting boats ready for the winter, with the Karts in the back as a reminder of another season around the corner.

Additional information on GPI Racing and Avon Marine can be found on their website.


Photo courtesy of Randy Pierson