The new owner of one of the region’s leading karting venues has pledged significant investment to make it into one of the best tracks in the UK.
Since acquiring Karting North East a matter of weeks ago, Matthew Hunter has identified the sweeping changes he wants to make through his five-year plan for the site, and has already secured two major national events for the venue, predicted to generate in excess of £100,000 each for the local economy.
The 1,200m outdoor track, in Warden Law, near Sunderland, is to play host to the British Championships in September next year – which attracts some of the leading names in global karting – for the first time in a decade, and will be the venue for its first owner/driver meeting for the first time in seven years on Sunday (December 8).
Matthew – father of world-class karting stars Rhys and Kai Hunter – is planning significant investment in refurbishing the venue’s fleet of karts and is also improving the facilities on-site for drivers and spectators alike by extending the clubhouse balcony to trackside and introducing new premium catering options. A new function room has also been created to help grow Karting North East’s corporate event and private hire options.
A junior academy is also set to be launched in the near future, with Rhys – one of Europe’s top names in karting – and current British number one Kai, playing a leading role in coaching children to become the karting stars of the future.
The site also offers a range of other outdoor sports, including archery, tomahawk and paintball, all of which will see investment, alongside the introduction of some new activities including air rifles.
Matthew, also owner of Hunter Electrical Services, admits the purchase of Karting North East was made with his “heart rather than head” through the family’s passion for karting, but is confident in the future success of the venue.
“The foundations are all here already, but through travelling the world to watch Rhys and Kai competing at the highest level, I’ve seen the very best tracks and what they offer, I’ve seen what works and what people want. I am really confident that we can make this track into one of the best in the UK. The likes of Lewis Hamilton have raced here in the past as it’s a great track, the challenge is for us to take it to the next level. We have put a plan in place for that to happen and the investment has started already,” he said.
“To secure the first owner/driver event in years is a great achievement for us, and it’s fantastic to bring the British Championships here next year for the first time in a decade. These things confirm we are already doing the right things and people share and understand our vision to create a top-class karting destination.”
Paul Bainbridge, general manager at Karting North East, said: “We are keen to work more closely with the region’s corporate market and our new function room will allow us to offer great events in a way the venue hasn’t done previously, alongside parties and private functions. Even the smaller changes we’ve made, like introducing new furniture into our clubhouse, have had a big impact, and our catering turnover has doubled in the past few weeks through us offering better coffee and homemade food. As well as offering comfortable surroundings for drivers and spectators, we are also being used as a venue for business meetings, and playing that kind of role in the local community is exactly what we want to achieve.”
Matthew purchased Karting North East with support from law firm Sintons. Senior associate Emma Pern handled the corporate aspects of the deal, with associate Danielle Dale leading on the real estate work.
Emma said: “Through travelling the world to watch his sons compete, Matthew has amassed unrivalled knowledge of what makes a successful karting venue, and he can now use that to the advantage of his new acquisition, as he looks to make Karting North East one of the best in the UK. We are very pleased to have supported Matt with his purchase and wish him every success.”