A rally driving entrepreneur is on the cusp of relaunching his Karting North East venture following three years of work and more than £500,000 worth of investment.
Former World Rally Championship driver Guy Wilks acquired Manor House Leisure Ltd in 2011, the company behind Karting North East (KNE) — the Sunderland-based circuit.
Mr Wilks has since transformed the centre near Doxford Park into a one-stop shop for a range of petrol-headed sports and other activities.
The investment has been used to resurface and extend the existing karting track, which at 1.2km is one of the longest in the UK.
In addition to the track there is also a 2,500 sq m outdoor paintball arena, off-road 4x4 experiences, archery and tomahawks and a new dual-track off road ‘rage buggy’ racing concept.
Mr Wilks has also refurbished the 30-acre centre’s reception and cafe areas to include ping pong tables and better equipped briefing and safety rooms.
The double British Rally Champion said: “This is the culmination of many years of planning and investment. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved here. Our aim was to develop something unrecognisable to the traditional, grimy experience of karting.
“I put everything I learned during my time behind the wheel into creating new driving experiences here, and built upon those to add other adrenaline-fuelled attractions and set it within an altogether classier environment. We’ve seen mass appeal across the board, from corporate events to kids parties, stag dos to family days out.”
Four years ago, Mr Wilks, now aged 34, quit the glamorous world of rallying to concentrate fully on developing KNE after purchasing the run-down site from its previous owners.
A number of new jobs have been created on the back of the development which was spurred by Mr Wilks’ ambition to turn around the image of motorsports in the UK.
In his time behind the wheel of rally cards he enjoyed a raft of podium placed finishes in prestigious races around the world including the likes of Rally-Monte Carlo, Finland and Rally Argentina.