Guantanamo goes electric !

Date article: 21/07/06  

CAPT Mark Leary, Commanding Officer of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, cuts the ribbon officially opening MWR's Checkered Flag Raceway. Craig Basel, MWR Director assists. The new go-kart track is expected to increase quality of life for the residents of Guantanamo Bay. Hours of operation will be Thursday through Sunday, 5 - 10 p.m. Cost for a 5-minute ride is $3.

Go-Kart track open for business
By Stacey Byington, NAVSTA Public Affairs Officer

With a quiet snip, ornamental scissors held by CAPT Mark Leary cut the ribbon signifying the grand-opening of the much awaited MWR’s Checkered Flag Raceway.

“Welcome to another great event,” said CAPT Leary. “This is just one more step in improving quality of life for the people here in Guantanamo Bay.”

Just prior to the grandopening, MWR director Craig Basel thanked everyone for coming out to “this great event.” He said the main funding for the project came from Navy Region Southeast MWR, NAVSTA Guantanamo Bay Public Works and MWR, and from Navy Exchange distribution funds (local money generated from NEX sales). Total cost was approximately $400,000.

“This has been a huge project,” said Basel. “Planning for the track began in 2003, with different designs and business models analyzed for the best possible solutions. We selected electric go-karts for environmental and operational safety, and purchased them from Kart Ventures, Inc. Construction on the track began on Jan. 4, 2006.”

He said Burns and Roe and Dick Corporation contract personnel did all the concrete and construction work, and personnel from Burns and Roe Services Corporation did the utility work associated with the project. Scott Ross, the MWR maintenance manager, and his diverse crew completed all the metal bumper work, tires, safety barrier, fencing, and final electrical connections.

“Everybody involved has done a superb job, and this will be a great step in improving the quality of life for the entire community,” Basel added.

After the ribbon-cutting CAPT Leary and five others piled into six karts for the first laps around the new track. They were ENS Joseph Wignarajah, with the ROICC office; McKenney Hartman, ROICC Chief Engineer; Maj. George Nunez, commanding officer of Marine Corps Security Force Co.; and LT Robert Thompson, NAVSTA Security Officer.

“You really have to grip the wheel hard,” said Thompson. “It’s not as easy as it looks.”

“It was fun,” said Fred Burns, NAVSTA’s environmental director, among the second group around the track. Safety rules are posted at the track entrance, and children must be at least 56 in. tall and 10-years-old to operate the go-karts. The cost is $3 for a five-minute ride. The go-karts will automatically stop when the five minutes are up, after a brief slow-down period.

Current operating hours are Thursdays through Sundays, 5 - 10 p.m., and special arrangements can be made for birthday packages, family get-togethers and command/ departmental parties. For more information, contact the D.J. Denich Gymnasium at 2193.

Marine Maj. George Nunez, LT Terrence Johnson and ENS Joseph Wignarajah are among the first riders to test the newly opened go-cart track at the base gym which opened for business July 14.