LAKEWOOD RANCH — As NASCAR fans rally Nov. 15 for the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 in Arizona, East County residents will be revving up for a race of their own.
Lakewood Ranch Main Street will host the first American full size pedal car races Nov. 15 during the Pedal Car Race and Car Show organized by Ed’s Tavern.
“This has never been done before, so we are really working on a (blank) piece of paper,” race organizer Ken Miklos said.
Race registration starts at 1 p.m., with time trials on a 65-yard modified track to follow at 2 p.m. The two fastest competitors in each age group from the time trials will race each other for bragging rights and prizes.
Race participation is free, but donations from the event will benefit the Bayside Community Church’s “Living The Dream” building fund. The Bayside #14 car will compete against the Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 car, officially licensed by JR Motorsports.
The car show itself will last from noon to 4 p.m. and will benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.
Miklos, owner of the Lakewood Ranch-based consumer packaged goods marketing firm K.R. Miklos & Company, had been selling child-size versions of the pedal car to corporations since late 2007. Their buyers would put the cars on display, raffle them off to customers or use them at special events.
But mid-year, Miklos’ company expanded its customer base and, following a suggestion, pitched the cars to the U.S. National Guard.
“They came back wanting a full-sized (car) that can be driven by adults,” Miklos said. “At the time, the product did not exist in any form, way or fashion.”
But through his contacts, Miklos found a U.S. manufacturer who could produce the 250 cars sought after by the National Guard. Soon, he was in business.
Miklos saw the potential immediately: Chevy dealerships, American Legion posts and retailers such as Wal-Mart all would be good candidates. They could hold pedal car races as community events, while helping to draw customers into their stores. Churches and other charitable organizations even could use the cars for fundraisers.
“That’s where our races come in,” Miklos said.
This Sunday’s pedal car races will provide the logistical information needed for Miklos to write a manual for Pepsi Co. and other potential customers about how to organize pedal car races.
“We’re doing this as a test,” he said.
But Miklos sees it as just the beginning. In the next year, he plans to have two more pedal car races — one in February and another just before the Indianapolis 500 in May. One likely will be on Bayside Community Church’s new campus, the other may be held at a high school track, where teams of four drivers each drive 110 yards in relay style.
Miklos also said he soon will begin selling car sponsorships.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
Pedal Car Race & Car Show
WHEN: Noon-4 p.m., Nov. 15
WHERE: 10719 Rodeo Drive, Lakewood Ranch. Pedal car race registrations starts at 1 p.m., with time trials following at 2 p.m.
ACTIVITIES: Pedal car races, door prizes, 50/50 drawing, music and food specials at Ed’s Tavern BENEFITS: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
INFO ON EVENT: www.collectorcartstv.com or call Ed’s Tavern at 907-0400 or Lance at 371-1061
INFO ON PEDAL CAR RACE OR PRE-REGISTRATION: firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE CARS
Each of the adult-sized pedal cars is 8 feet long, 3 feet wide, 3 feet tall and weighs 155 pounds.
“Our cars — think of an exercise bike with four wheels, a steering wheel and a stockcar body,” Ken Miklos said. “It’s great exercise.”