Back 40 News

Programmers, designers, account executives… Start your engines – more specifically 20 horsepower electric motors. Back40 Design recently had a company outing at Pole Position in Oklahoma City. The carts are low slung, wide-tired little beasts capable of speeds up to 40 MPH. Zipping around the indoor track competing against your co-workers is a lot of fun. And an excellent way for a company to unwind.

After signing in and waiving our legal rights to sue if we stuffed ourselves into a barrier or another cart, we were divided up into two groups and headed out to the course.

We were instructed that the first few laps our speed would be governed electronically. Tooling around the track at “parade” speed felt a little silly, but it was a good way to explore handling, braking and the track. When our instructor released our speed restrictions, we all put the hammer down and the adrenaline began to flow. Skimming across the surface of the track at a few inches off the ground feels a lot faster that 40 MPH. Like at least 45 mph.  

I was pushing the cart as far as I could into the turns before breaking. I was sliding the cart around corners. I thought I was doing great, possibly setting an indoor land speed record. I was passing and not getting passed. But reality soon caught up with me – in the form of my accountant, Rob Sorum. We all were instructed to yield to the faster driver, but I was having none of that. I wasn’t sure he was faster. I didn’t have a lot of time to ponder this, because after the next turn he was in front of me. Man, that guy is good with taxes and inside passes.

Just as my ego was getting back to its right size (I was wearing an extra large helmet), I was passed by Lathen Kamas, graphic designer. The only good thing about getting passed by Lathen was that I could now follow him through the turns and learn from him. For the brief time I was able to follow him, I learned I could carry a lot more speed into the turns than I was. I did catch up to Lathen a few more times as he got slowed down by traffic.

In what seemed like a few minutes out first lap session was over. Our next session was the race. Our average lap times determined where we were placed on the starting grid. The faster drivers were positioned behind the slower drivers. For some reason, probably an error in computer assisted time tracking software, I was placed toward the front, positioned after my wife, Sandy, and in front of Mecca Seymour, Back40 bookkeeper. Having already be humbled by my accountant I was not cutting another “numbers person” any slack. Off the line, I was going to stay in front of her and lose her in the fast turns. I never had the chance, as the flag dropped, she dropped me. I attributed her quick start to her lighter mass – and her “take no prisoner attitude” which comes in handy with “accounts recieveables” and apparently high speed 4 wheel drifts on polished concrete.  

As we left for the day, some of us were top finishers, some of us weren’t. And some of us were bruised and a little worn out from the excitement. But we all left as veteran cart racers. As we all piled into our respective 2 ton vehicles we vowed to leave the racing at Pole Position. We then proceeded to drive like perfect citizens back to the office. But if you were following me, you’d notice I took a more effecient line through the curves around Lake Hefner.  

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