Turning into the straightaway you quickly push the pedal to the floor. The engine roars to life as you accelerate down the track. Up ahead is your next challenge – a hairpin turn that requires carefully calculated breaking and precise steering, otherwise you might spin out and lose your position. Your tires are just inches away from the car next to you. With a little luck and skill, you might outmaneuver the other driver and come out ahead without wrecking.
Tom Boehland can’t get enough of this. He grew up a race fan and for years has known legendary IndyCar driver and team owner Bobby Rahal. Today he roots for Bobby’s son, Graham, who currently competes in the IndyCar Series.
Back in 1992, Tom, who is president of Citrus Systems, Inc., saw an ad for a local grand prix style go-kart racing event that benefited the Arthritis Foundation and thought it would be a good team building opportunity for his co-workers. He signed his team up and thus began a tradition that would span 25 years.
After his first year in the competition, Tom took on the role of chair of the event. Since then, his Citrus Systems team has raised more than $150,000, and the event as a whole has raised an estimated $750,000 to support our mission to conquer and cure arthritis.
Today, our Mini Grand Prix is a team racing competition featuring go karts that are direct descendants of open wheeled Formula One race cars – the kind that Bobby Rahal drove when he won the Indianapolis 500. Reaching speeds up to 50 miles per hour, drivers race through a 0.65 mile road course that includes 14 turns and at least one pit stop and driver change. The team that finishes the 12 lap race first gets all the glory, a really cool trophy and for that moment, a glimpse of what it’s like to be Bobby or Graham Rahal.
“This is all supposed to be for fun,” said Tom. “But when the green flag drops, it becomes very competitive.”
This year’s Mini Grand Prix will be held on August 6, 2017, at the Stockholm Karting Center in Cokato, Minnesota.