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Turn Key Thursday

Turn Key Thursday Rent to Race Night

Welcome to our 24th ‘Turn-Key Thursday’ rent to race season at Sugar River Raceway! Our Thursday night rent to race program has proven to us that this is a great way to introduce people to go-kart racing. A big percentage of our Thursday night entrants visit us again. Many visit again on follow up Thursdays, but many on a weekend with a group of friends in tow to do a private race event. We will leave both the price and format the same for 2024. We started our 30 lap $60 race program in 2010 and it seems popular so why mess with success.


It is easy to remember as we race every Thursday night April 18th through October 17th. We run rain or shine every Thursday.


Turn-Key Thursday Schedule:

  • ½ hour rentals available Noon to 6:00 PM

  • Special Turn-Key Pre-Practice session, $20 for 15 laps before 6 PM

  • Turn-Key Registration Noon to race time

  • Turn-Key practice at 7 PM

  • Racing following practice and driver’s meeting

  • If weather threatens call 608/897-2898 for updates.

  • Refunds or Rain Checks (we run in a light rain, mist, or on damp track) will be given for events interrupted by weather. If practice is finished a $40 refund/rain check is given. If 1 race is complete a $28 refund/rain check is given, if 2 heat races are complete then a $16 refund/rain check is given. A race is considered complete after the halfway lap has been completed.

The Price. ‘Turn Key Thursday’ is priced at $60/driver

The Format We will run a six (6) lap practice/qualifying session to start then evening. Our heat groupings are developed randomly, but we will always keep groups of friends that sign in together in heats together if possible. We will then run an eight (8) lap first heat lined up according to the qualifying result. The second heat will also be eight (8) laps and will be an invert of the finish of the first heat. The only exception to this will be the drivers who didn’t run within 105% of the fast lap turned during the first heat. These drivers will be lined up to the rear in order of their 1st heat finish. Our feature event will be eight (8) laps with our high point earners from the heat races lined up to the front. If more than twenty (20) drivers are racing we will break into multiple heats. This will create multiple feature events for our third round of races.

Bonus Race A fourth race event will be offered each week. This event is optional and extra cost. After the feature round is complete we will ask who hasn’t had enough! If we have enough takers to fill another race we will run a 15 lap race at a cost of $20/driver. And the cool thing is this race is run backwards around the track! You’ll swear you changed venues.

New in 2014 – Continued in 2024 How about a few practice laps before the official practice session? You bet, it can knock off some of the rust, or if you’re new to our program it can help get you acclimated and comfortable. If you enter the Turn Key Thursday race at the same time you pay for the extra practice session we’ll get you 15 laps for $20. You must be in by 6 PM to take advantage of this program.

Below are the rest of the details you might want to know about our ‘Turn Key Thursday’ racing.

When: On Thursday nights Sugar River Raceway will run a race program in which we will use identically prepared karts. Practice rolls off at 7 PM and the first race will begin following practice and driver’s meeting. Registration for the evening’s event will be from Noon up until the first race rolls. 

Who races? Anyone that can prove they are at least 18 years of age and pay the entry fee. The majority are people who want to try racing, but never have. About 30% of our entries come from folks who have run previous ‘Turn Key Thursday’ events. Yes, it can be habit forming! Several former Turn Key racers have bought their own go-karts to compete in our sanctioned racing program. That’s how much fun go-kart racing is. Some Turn Key racers have raced something else in their life before trying our go-karts. We entertain former motorcycle racers, both motocross and road racing, we also have those who have raced cars join us. Some are current circle track or SCCA type competitors. Others come from Autocross events. And yes, we get some old go-kart racers who just have to come back and try it again. So come on out and try it, as you’ll be among an entry list that is likely 70% new to go-kart racing. The following are some FAQ’s you may have in mind about this program. Please keep reading.

What is included in the cost? The $60 entry fee includes use of track safety gear if you don’t own your own (see later section listing safety gear minimums). Each driver will also be asked to sign an agreement which states that each driver is liable for up to $80 additional in damages to the kart or karts that he/she drives. You can read more on this in a later section.

How Much Track Time Can I Expect? A six (6) lap practice session begins your night. The race program consists of two (2), eight (8) lap heat races and an eight (8) lap feature race. Still not enough track time? Enter our fifteen (15) lap second feature for an additional $20.

What are the karts that we race? The karts are identical and are powered by 9 HP Honda engines. They use the same racing wheels and slicks as our sanctioned race program. They have the best in racing seats, brakes, and employ an energy absorbing bodywork system for safety. The karts will achieve 50 MPH on the straight-a-way and are limited to this speed only due to track size. Average lap speed will be in the 35 MPH range. G load in the corners is in the 1 to 1.5G range!

What are the rules? The Sugar River Raceway track crew will provide a safe and level playing field as we officiate ‘Turn Key Thursdays’. We will also conduct a ‘Driver’s Meeting’ every Thursday night to cover the rules of the event before the first race.

Can I get some practice before racing? Yes, you can get practice laps during any open practice session. To check times available for practice refer to our ‘Hot Laps & Practice‘ menu selection for more details. We have two types of rental karts at Sugar River Raceway. We have rental karts for minor drivers powered by 6.5 HP engines, and these karts are only used for this purpose and are available at $30/half hour segment. The second group of karts is the ‘Rent to Race’ karts, which can be rented for $40/half hour segment. These walk in extra sessions are on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each week.

What if I damage a kart? Each driver is responsible for damage to the kart he or she is driving, but only up to a cost of $80 for each incident. Mechanical failure such as engine failure, broken chains, broken throttle linkage, etc. will be the track’s responsibility. Components that are damaged due to running off the track or becoming involved in contact with another kart, (either intentional or accidental) shall be the responsibility of the driver. We do this on a no fault basis (to this day we have not met a race driver who wasn’t innocent of causing the mishap). If you were in the accident you are 50% responsible for being there. For instance, someone spins in front of you and you just can’t miss them. You bend a tie rod upon contact. A new tie rod costs $10. You pay for the tie rod because it is less than the $80 limit. Let’s say in another instance the contact is hard enough to damage some bodywork, bend the tie rod and a front wheel beyond repair. In this instance a $10 tie rod is needed, a $35 front wheel, and a $100 front nose piece. This is $135 worth of damage, so you would pay the $80 amount. If you are overly aggressive or just unlucky you may get to pay for more than one bent go-kart in an evening.

What will I win? Well, certainly bragging rights will be yours until the next ‘Thursday Turn Key Race’ takes place. The top 3 finishers in the feature will receive awards.

Can I use my own safety gear? Yes you may (safety gear is provided as a part of your entry fee. We provide a helmet, balaclava, gloves, and race coat. If you have gear left over from a past racing life some of it may be useable. We require a full face Snell 2015 minimum rated helmet. We require leather or suede palm gloves, lace up shoes and socks. If you have a driving suit from some other racing pursuit you may use it. A coat is required and heavy blue jean/denim, Carhart/Cordura material, motorcycle coats, or leather coats are required.

We also sell all safety gear at the track should you wish to have your own. You can purchase the minimum needed for about $280 + tax, (helmet – $159.95, jacket – $64.50, neck collar – $33.00, gloves – $19.95).

Do you handicap by weight or driving experience? We do not have a system for adding weight to the karts to equalize competition. We randomly place entrants into the heat groupings. We then qualify practice to line up our first heat. The feature line up is based on performance in the heat races. Past race experience will show itself and the better drivers will be in the feature with the heaviest least experienced in the Semi Feature. So our feature round of races will have the most skilled racing of the night as we now have all drivers grouped by speed. We award the winners of all of the feature round races.

I’m sold, how do I enter? You can do it in advance by telephone using a credit card (VISA, MC, or Discover). You can also enter in person the night of the event.

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