Thursday, May 20, 2010
Go on in for Go Karts and more at Stocky's Fast Track
By Sheryl Popp
Photo: Jeff Stockhausen (seated in go-kart) is shown at Stocky’s Fast Track in West Bend. His son, Steven, stopped in just in time to share photo duty with his dad.
I looked forward to seeing the indoor race track at Stocky's Fast Track in West Bend. I'd only driven a go kart once, and as you'd expect, that was an outside track. (If the DMV had seen me, they'd revoke my driver's license.) Jeff Stockhausen showed me around, and explained how he and his wife, Sandy, came to open the track.
Those not raised in the area might not be that familiar with the Stockhausen family. They have, for a number of generations, been in the building and farming businesses. Jeff's dad, Vince Stockhausen, started the family's grading and excavating business in 1955. Jeff and Sandy are simultaneously juggling the track, family and other careers. Jeff was second assistant chief of the Newburg Fire Department, retiring from the department with over 20 years in. He is still a part of Vince Stockhausen Excavating and Grading. Sandy is still a member of the fire department, is lieutenant of the rescue squad, and is a diabetic nurse educator for Aurora. Additionally, Jeff retired from competitive jet-ski racing in the late nineties. "I was an amateur up until my last year, when I turned pro," said Jeff. "I learned you couldn't be a pro racer and work full time." During those racing years, Jeff traveled all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He saw an indoor go kart race track for the first time in Texas, and learned they were popular in Europe. "Sandy and I began talking about opening a family business," recalled Jeff. "We have six children, so we wanted something everybody could be involved in. Of course, none of them work here now," he laughed.
They hatched the idea after Jeff quit racing, and opened the first track in April, 2001. There weren't many indoor race tracks in the country, and this was the first in the state. Jeff and Sandy designed the track themselves, with advice from the vendors who manufacture the karts. The first track was next door to their current location. The original building had been constructed as a shop for the excavating business, but only part of it was used. Stocky's remained there until 2005, when the track moved next door. "We went from about 15,000 sq. ft, to 25,000 sq. ft.," said Jeff. "This building is more open, and we built onto the front of it." Why the need for more space? Naturally, to expand their offerings. The idea of an indoor race track went over very well, right from the beginning, but they were only able to offer limited food service. "We have bachelor and bachelorette parties, corporate events, and kids' birthday parties. Our customers range from about age nine (kids have to be 54" tall to reach the pedals), to age 70," said Jeff. "I tried to get my 94 year old aunt to take a ride, but just couldn't quite convince her to try." In the new building, Jeff and Sandy are able to offer expanded food service, and more separate event areas, including a banquet area. "We built a full kitchen, a full bar and a bigger arcade, so there is a lot more to do now," said Jeff. The bar is a sports bar, with lots of TVs, and has special promotions for Packer and Nascar events. "Robbie Riser (GM of Roush Fenway Racing and Allenton native) stops in with his kids whenever he's in town," said Jeff. The restaurant serves home made pizza, which is quite popular, a good size list of appetizers, sandwiches and burgers, and a Friday fish fry that is well attended. Prices are competitive. "If people don't want to choose from our menu for their event," added Jeff, "we'll help them arrange other catering." Corporate customers have included Miller Beer, Johnsonville Brats, Harley and Rockwell Engineering.
The Main Event
What about go karts? Well, I learned a bit. The track is 420 ft. long. Drivers can make between 10-15 laps per race, depending on how disciplined they and how well they follow the rules. For safety purposes, all karts can be remotely slowed, or shut down. "We have the best driver safety system available." said Jeff. Any or all of the karts can be stopped at the same time. Customers can purchase a single ride, a four or a ten ride package. Prices are less for children, and there are even double karts available for a parent to accompany a child not tall enough to drive solo. There are three different speed options. Everyone actually races against the clock, not the other drivers on the track, the same as Nascar Formula 1 racing. The karts are electric, and each has a transponder installed that registers with a loop in the floor of the track. That tracks one's time, and projects it on an overhead score board. Five to six karts can race at once, and Stocky's owns 14, although they'll be switching them out soon. "It's a big investment," said Jeff, "even without counting new chargers for them, but the technology has really advanced and we need to upgrade." The electric karts must be charged about the same amount of time they run. However, if they run as long as a half hour, they'll need to charge an hour. And...they charge overnight. That's a big electric bill. "But it's better to be green and not use gasoline, right?" said Jeff. Jeff's son Steven had stopped in, and helped explain another benefit of electric karts. "They have higher performance than a gas go kart," he said, "because they have more acceleration, with no arc (just think of speed increasing in a straight line) and increased torque."
Just like practically everyone else, Stocky's is struggling against the economic downturn. Less people come in to drive a kart just for fun, although many groups or individuals still make Stocky's a destination from out of town or even out of state. "People will drive," said Jeff, "because there just aren't that many indoor tracks. So you can have your event rain or shine." I believe that more people should take a look at Stocky's birthday party packages. A party for five kids includes two races per child, two pizzas, two pitchers of soda, an ice cream birthday cake and two hours at a party table. (Additional children may be added for additional fees.) Pretty darn good deal huh? Stocky's Fast Track & Grill is located at 6389 Stockhausen Lane, just off Hwy. 33 in West Bend. The phone number is 262-306-0100. Anyone interested in league racing should give Jeff a call. To see some good photos of the track, go to www.stockys.us. The track is open Tues.-Thurs., 5pm-10pm, Fri., 2pm-midnight, Sat., Noon-Midnight & Sun., Noon-8pm.
Jeff provided the following recipe, a long time favorite from up north hunting trips and family events.
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
chopped mushrooms, onions, green peppers, etc., optional
2/3 cup whipping cream
1 lb. cooked ham, bacon or sausage
Spray 9x13 glass pan w/non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese on bottom of pan. Crack the eggs into the pan, to cover the bottom. Break yolks with a fork, do not scramble them. Sprinkle in vegetables of choice, or leave plain. Top with the meat. Pour the whipping cream over the top, but don't mix in. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Put in unheated oven and bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned. This recipe is very flexible. A few more eggs can be added to cover bottom of pan, or more cheese or meat can be added. Use as many vegetables as desired.