Group rehabilitates Bridge Road track
By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - Behind the wheel of his go-kart, zipping around the asphalt track in a machine built for one, Mick "Crash" Lizzano finds peace.
"It's my serenity," said Mr. Lizzano, who makes his living as a repossession man. "When I'm out on the racetrack, I don't have any worries about work. I leave the job behind. The only thing I'm thinking about is winning the race."
The 38-year-old is part of a group of about 100 racing enthusiasts who are bringing their passion for small race carts closer to home.
"Before this, you'd have to travel more than 130 miles to go racing," said Mark Bryer, president of the non-profit South Florida Karting Association.
The three-month-old group holds races every two weeks at the county-owned tracks at 5400 S.E. Bridge Road in Hobe Sound.
Thanks to the new association, racers no longer have to travel to Homestead, Cocoa Beach, Orlando or Daytona to drive their karts.
"That's the best thing," Mr. Lizzano said. "It's close to home, and the shorter traveling time means you have more time to go racing."
It takes the Fort Pierce man about 35 minutes to get to the Hobe Sound tracks, as opposed to the typical two-hour drive he undertook to get to the nearest race meets.
It's a perk that has drawn several other enthusiasts to what organizers say was a nearly forgotten site in Hobe Sound.
"The track hasn't been paved in 20 years. It's been here a long time, and started out as dirt track in the '70s," Mr. Bryer said.
A donation from Sheltra Motor Sports in Indiantown has led to a fresh layer of asphalt and given new life to the spot.
Volunteers are building a new fence around the site, using material that Stuart-based Finish Line Site Development Company donated.
"It's been very positive. I get calls all the time from people who drive down along Bridge Road and see the sign. They call us, surprised, because they never knew there was a track there," he said.
The growing crowds are encouraging.
"A lot of it is word-of- mouth," Mr. Bryer said. "It's an opportunity to go racing at an affordable price."
Admission is $10. Racers pay an additional $25 for the day. The money goes toward rehabilitating the track and covering insurance and leasing costs.
In January, each meet drew about 25 racers; by early March, that number had more than doubled to 55, organizers say.
"There were a lot of people who didn't know that Hope Sound existed," Mr. Lizzano said. "This is helping to get the word out there."
The meets have attracted families and racers up to age 72, and the meets are the site of training classes for beginners, organizers said.
Experienced riders teach novices about engine guidelines, flags, safety measures and driving techniques.
"This is the local hometown track for us. Racing's like a family. Everybody helps each other out," Mr. Lizzano said.
For their efforts, the top three racers at each meet get trophies and earn points toward a planned award ceremony at the end of the year.
"We want to make this the best track to put Martin County on the map," he said. "And it's also an adrenaline rush."
For more information or to get a schedule, call (772) 828-1360 or visit www.southfloridakarting.com.