Popular go-kart business revs up for last time
Tim Rivers watches over his track on a record-breaking day for high temperatures in October, the sun shining down on Thunderbird Go-Karts.
"If you want to come out go-karting, this is the weekend to do it," he says, although that statement could be taken in more ways than one.
Thunderbird Go-Karts in Ottawa's Greenbelt will be closing its doors for good next weekend after more than 50 years in business.
Rivers bought the company in 1969 and moved it to its current location in 1981. Now, he's retiring.
"It's given me a good life over the years," he said. "It's paid the bills and allowed me to have winters off, been able to spend some time with my kids as they grew up."
Parents said they keep coming back to the track over the years because it's a fun place for their own kids.
"That's too bad because it's the closest one for us," said Todd Burger. "We're out in Orleans and it's the best one we like."
"I just really like go-karting and I don't want go-karting to close down," said eight-year-old Garrison Condran.
Rivers has kept Thunderbird open through recessions and refused to raise prices as his costs rose.
"You can continue to raise your prices, everyone says ‘Well just raise your prices,'" he said. "But the more you raise your prices the fewer customers you have, so your bottom line ends up staying the same."
Upon his retirement, he sold the 12-acre package of land (including driving range and mini-putt) to a private developer that wants to build an arena.
You can even buy the go-karts online for $650, including taxes.
Thunderbird Go-Karts will be open Sunday and Thanksgiving Monday, before the last cars zip around the track Oct. 16.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman