John Lepine always plans ahead.
Lepine prepares the track before the kart races that Dirt Devils Speedway hosts every second and fourth Saturday of the month. He had to water it down nearly three days in advance and rake it for this Saturday's races.
"If we don't get water on it a few days in advance, it'll be like a dust bowl out there," Lepine said. "The karts would be sliding all over the place if we don't do that."
Dirt Devils Speedway, a 1/5-mile track owned by Sam Rodriguez, is at 23846 State Road 52 in Land O'Lakes. The track offers amenities such as concessions and a tech barn for racers to work on their karts. There's even an open pit that allows fans and racers to interact. Admission to races is $10.
Every other Saturday, once the gates open at 1 p.m., more than 80 drivers pack the speedway with their karts and about 200 to 300 spectators take in the races that begin at 5:30 p.m.
The racing season is about nine months long, from January to September, and racers come from all over the Tampa Bay area, even from Hernando. When the speedway hosts states' races as part of the Florida Karting Association, Lepine says racers come from as far as Michigan and Illinois to race in the warmer weather.
"That's when it gets packed," Lepine said. "We'll get up to 220 cars and nearly 700 spectators."
Drivers are 5 and older and race in classes determined by age. Fifteen and older is considered the adult class, which has no restrictions on the karts driven. The younger classes must use larger restrictor plates to keep their speed down. Five- to 7-year-olds, or the novice class, top out at about 40 mph, while the adult class racers can go up to 80 mph.
Lepine says the economy is affecting the Saturday races, which are down from more than 100 karts a weekend. But races can still be a popular draw as a day to spend with the family.
"We have a really nice setup here," Lepine said. "Problem is, people just don't know about it because it's a little hidden back here on (S.R) 52. It is perfect for families, who usually come at least six strong per car.
"It'll be what they do Saturdays instead of Little League or something."
For more info, log onto www.dirtdevils.com.