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Plans rolled out for special go-cart track

Sam Rodriguez wants to build a go-cart track in central Pasco County.

But it won't be the kind of place where the idle thrill-seeker comes for a casual toodle around the track in rented carts.

Rodriguez plans to build a dirt track where dedicated go-cart racers from across the state can bring their well-tuned machines for serious competition.

"The area needs a facility that is run more like a race track," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, who owns R and S Auto Body in Tampa, has submitted plans with Pasco County to build a one-fifth mile oval track on 10 acres in the rural community of Ehren at the intersection of State Road 52 and Ehren Cutoff.

He has put up the sign: "Dirt Devil Speedway." And he has installed a culvert for a driveway onto the property. But he needs county approval before he builds the track, parking lot and a small building for scoring and tracking.

"We really don't have a date for opening," Rodriguez said, adding that it depends on how long it takes the county to review his plans. But he hopes it will be complete within a couple of months.

Rodriguez chose the spot on State Road 52 because the land was affordable and he thinks it will become a high-growth area in the next few years.

"It surprised me how much traffic that road (52) has," he said.

The spot also is easy to get to, with quick access to Interstate 75 and hotels and restaurants there, he said.

"That area is starting to grow a little bit and in a few years it's going to be like (State Road) 54," he said.

Racing go-carts has become a popular, but little-known sport, Rodriguez said. Although it is occasionally featured on ESPN, "it's one of those kind of sports where only the people doing it know about it."

Rodriguez said Sunshine Speedway in Pinellas allows "carters" to race there regularly. And they are even welcomed on the famous Daytona tracks for special events.

The track at Ehren would allow several classes of racers to compete, from young children to adults. Most of the activity would be on weekends,although the track might be open one night a week for practice.

Rodriguez plans to get his races sanctioned by the World Carting Association.

"It's something that is good for kids and keeps them out of trouble," he said.

While most of the racers would bring their own carts, Rodriguez plans to offer some sort of a limited rental plan so people can try the sport without having to buy their own machine.

"A lot of people have aspirations of being a race car driver," he said.