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Go karts burn rubber at Fairgrounds

The Center of Progress Building at the fairgrounds was turned into a smog-filled gear head convention for nine straight hours this past weekend, as the 2007 New York State Indoor Go-kart Championship invaded Syracuse for the fifteenth-straight year.

Over 180 teams and drivers from nine states and Canada took part in the races, most competing only for a trophy and bragging rights.

"The event was great," said event organizer and co-founder Rick Martell. "Anytime people don't get hurt is a success."

About 22 different classes of go-karts competed. Classes are divided by kart weight, horsepower, chassis design and engine type.

"We had initially had 18 classes scheduled. We don't turn anyone away," Martell said. "Some karts with newer engines called 'Animals' showed up, so we let them compete as well."

The top class at the event was the Pro-Four Class. Over 35 drivers battled through a series of heat races to find out who would make the final 12 in the feature event. This was the only event where prize money was awarded, as the 12 drivers in the feature split $2,500.

"At the same event a few years ago, we put up $1,000 to win," Martell said. "It was too crazy. You can't hang that type of cash in front of them. There were too many accidents."

This years' event was not short on excitement. During one heat race, a kart lost control and plowed under the plywood retaining wall that was put in place -- almost striking the scorers stand.

"It's a tribute to all of the safety measures we've implemented that the driver wasn't hurt," Martell said.

Martell recalled that two years ago a kart had struck him, causing him to hit his head on the concrete floor.

"I suffered a concussion," Martell said. "There was blood everywhere. I just had them wrap me up and I stayed for the rest of the show."

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