The Campsie Karting Centre is no more. Like so many other businesses they were not helped at all by the Covid lockdowns and after almost ten years in business they have shut their doors for the last time.
Although the business featured other attractions, such as paintball, bubble soccer (the mind boggles) and crazy golf, their most popular one was the 400 metre indoor karting track which attracted all age groups from just 8 years of age, through stag and hen groups in their 20s and 30s right up to grandparents, often with the grandkids. They got off to a good start in 2012 with many glowing reviews, and it was clear that sometimes the grandmas and grandads had at least as much fun as the kids!
Spectators were well catered for too, with tea and coffee available - essential on a chilly afternoon. Meals could be provided for special celebrations.
It was generally reckoned to be very professionally run; all laps on the racetrack were timed and displayed on TV screen which also displayed the names of the drivers so competition could sometmes get quite intense as the adrenaline levels built up. Lap times were provided, which tempted many customers to return again and again to try to improve on them; after all a lot of major racing car drivers first cut their teeth on go-karts. A podium for photos of the winners provided many a photo for the album or Facebook.
The track was reckoned to be the longest indoor one in Northern Ireland and up to 12 karts could race at the same time, meaning that groups could all race each other at the same time. The karts had plenty of power and 70mph was certainly possible from them - which feels incredibly fast in one of these machines - but they could be, and were, detuned for the younger or less skilfull drivers.
Safety was a priority and all participants were given a thorough safety briefing before they were kitted up and let loose on the karts. This was a subject the staff were very keen on and alcohol prior to driving was a complete no-no. The size of the track impressed many of the participants and there were plenty of sharp turns, as well as a tricky chicane, to test people's skills so it wasn't just a case of putting a foot hard down on the throttle. There was plenty of room for overtaking but nevertheless it often took some skill and experience.
Anyone dealing with the public will, of course, get complaints - it is after all only human nature. Most of them were concerning the prices - some people have a completely unrealistic view of what it costs to run a centre like this - and the strict adherence to safety rules. I don't think a comment about this is necessary.
Shutdowns because of the Covid epidemic have ruined countless otherwise viable businesses and although it was not always the only reason why many of them failed it was certainly the last straw in many cases - and a very heavy one at that.
Certain insurance companies were amongst the few businesses to benefit from Covid - and the reason was hire and reward insurance!
To give it it's full title: Carriage of Goods For Hire And Reward Insurance - it is an insurance policy that covers people who deliver goods. And during the lockdowns caused by Covid there were plenty of them!
All of a sudden shops had to close; the only way they could trade was to deliver goods to the customers. Amazon had a field day. Most of the delivery people, however, were delivering fast food - the nation could do wiithout new televisions or carpets, it seemed, but their evening curry, pizza or burger? No way. Soon the streets were clogged with youngsters on scooters delivering these essentials to hungry customers - and they all had (or were supposed to have) a hire and reward insurance policy tucked away.
For a while businesses like Deliveroo, Just Eat, and Uber Eats couldn't keep up with the demand and there was a ready pool of workers who were used to handling food and dealing with the public - restaurant and bar staff, who had been thrown out of work by lockdown rules. The insurance companies were rubbing their hands together and ordering new company yachts.
All good things come to an end and that includes bad things, which are still good for the few. The end of the epidemic and lifting of restrictions slashed demand. Deliveries to the home are a fact of life for millions of us now though; many households, particularly with fuel and vehicle insurance costs being so high, have realised that the family car is a luxury not a necessity. A knock on the door by the guy from the local supermarket or Amazon is almost a daily event for many of us so there are still plenty of delivery drivers - with hire and reward insurance policies - making our lives that bit more comfortable.