Herald-Whig

At this point, Grand Prix of Karting director uncertain if event will be held this year

A look at the 2018 Grand Prix of Karting on Saturday, Jun. 9, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane 1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 31, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- All Terry Traeder can do is wait.

And hope.

Traeder is uncertain whether or not this year's Grand Prix of Karting, scheduled for Oct. 10-11 in South Park, will be able to be run.

Governmental mandates at both the local and state levels -- all tied to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic -- will likely decide the fate of the Grand Prix, possibly as soon as mid-August.

A rise in the number of reported coronavirus cases -- locally, regionally and nationally -- could ultimately force the postponement of the world-class karting event that was resurrected in 2018.

"It's all wait-and-see right now," said Traeder, the director of the Grand Prix and a former world karting champion himself.

Traeder said his staff will meet Aug. 15 with Mayor Kyle Moore and other city officials. A decision on the Grand Prix is expected soon afterward.

"We'll see what can be done safety-wise, and whether or not it is feasible," he said. "I really want to have this for the community, but at this point I'm not sure if it is possible. The spectators are our main concern."

Trader estimates a combined 20,000 attended the Grand Prix races over 2018 and 2019.

The Grand Prix was originally scheduled for June 13-14, but postponed early in the spring due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

This year's Grand Prix would be the third race since the event's return three years ago and mark the 50th anniversary of its first running.

In just two years since its return, the Grand Prix has already captured a national spotlight. Ekartingnews.com has listed the Grand Prix as one of the top 10 races in the United States

The Grand Prix was discontinued following the 2001 run, due largely to dwindling interest in karting (at the time) on a national level. The sport has made a comeback, especially during the last five years, due largely to more economically feasible classes that have attracted more participants and fans.

The 2019 Grand Prix attracted 319 racers from 17 states, and Traeder was originally expecting that 2020 number to approach or surpass 400. It's unlikely this year's entry list -- if an event is actually ruled possible -- would approach that number due to lingering health concerns.

Another effect of the current pandemic, coupled with what would presumably be a smaller field, would be a reduction or elimination of the added $10,000 in purse structure that was announced for this year.

During the original heyday of the Grand Prix, fields of 500-plus were commonplace, including a record 625.

The Grand Prix was brought back to life through a joint effort of the Traeder family, event coordinator Jeff Miles, a consortium of Quincy area businesses and the Quincy Park District.

It was Traeder's dad, the late Gus Traeder, who founded and built the original Grand Prix into one of America's premier road-racing events. The trophies of that are now awarded to Grand Prix winners are called "Gussies," and bear the founder's likeness.

Prior to the pandemic, plans were in motion to expand a kids entertainment area at South Park and add a variety of other features to make the race weekend "an even more memorable experience," according to Traeder.

Those plans, however, are also on hold.

Traeder assures that even if the October event is forced to be canceled, the future of the Grand Prix is solid.

"Even if we can't race this year, we'll definitely be back in 2021," he said.