Gentlemen, get ready to start your engines … and ladies, too.

Autobahn Indoor Speedway opened Friday to much anticipation from riders eager to strap into one of more than 50 European electric karts for racing enthusiasts.

The East Coast company’s first foray into the southwestern market is Tucson, and final occupancy permits were secured last week, said Joel Lipp, general manager of the 63,000-square-foot site downtown, at 300 S. Toole Ave.

“The market was ready,” Lipp said. “It was an opportunity to go west to a community with a college population.”

Autobahn has eight locations across the country, and its primary demographic has been men ages 18 to 40, Lipp said.

Last week, its Tucson staff was continuing to train and zipped around the two tracks in karts that can go up to 50 miles per hour.

There are 44 adult karts, and 11 kids carts that go up to 35 miles per hour. Children must be at least 8 years old to drive.

The races are 14 laps, and an overhead monitor shows the time of each kart. The races are designed to register fastest time, instead of racing others, Lipp said.

Staff will closely monitor drivers and have the ability to shut down a vehicle’s motor if a driver is acting erratically or aggressively.

Autobahn hired 40 employees.

Customers will sign in at an iPad bank and will be required to watch a safety video and listen to a briefing from employees before getting into a kart.

A $6 annual membership covers the cost of helmets and head socks but doesn’t cover racing. A single “arrive and drive” ticket is $20 per race, and bulk purchases with discounts will be available.

The track will be open seven days a week, all year long except Thanksgiving Day. It will also be closed on days when there is a special event that requires use of the entire facility.

Along with lunchtime and midweek specials, there will be a ladies night on Fridays, Lipp said.

Closed-toe shoes are required, but Crocs are available for customers who need to change footwear.

Aside from the racing itself, Autobahn sites host corporate events and private parties.

One large meeting room and a smaller room with a window view of the track can host team building events for companies or birthday parties for the kids, said Sean Superville, Autobahn’s event sales manager here.

“There’s nothing like this in Tucson,” he said. “I’m sure every weekend we’re going to be packed.”

There is a snack bar on site, but no alcohol will be served. Customers who show up intoxicated will be denied driving privileges, Lipp said.

Autobahn opens only one facility per city and is considering sites in New Mexico for another location, Superville said.

Its Tucson lease, from Levin Family Limited Partnership, was one of the largest local leases by square footage in the first half of the year.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at


Gabriela's newspaper career began at the Tucson Citizen in '86 as the "movie-times girl" where she'd call local theaters for showtimes. Since then, she's written about crime, education, immigration, trade and business. She's been with the Star since 2007.