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What to do this weekend: high-speed racing in Harrisburg

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Celebrate the Fourth of July the way our Founders intended — by beating your friends in a high-speed go-kart race.

There’s a number of places where you can live out your Mario Kart fantasies, but I challenge you to find a more adrenaline-fueled experience than the Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Lemoyne

The track features cars that are more like mini F1 race cars than go-karts. They can travel up to 50 mph and drift around curves. They live on a “Grand Prix-style” track with challenging turns and little margin for error. And they're synced up to an automated timing system that’s accurate to 1/100th of a second.

And just like a real race car, safety is a legitimate concern. So before you race, you’ll have to watch an instructional video, find a snug helmet and strap yourself into a four-point harness.

Once you’re secured in the kart, you’ll taxi out to the starting line — with your kart’s power capped at a painfully low level.

You’ll wonder what’s up — you’ll feel misled: “Why so slow?”

And then you’ll approach the starting line. The kart will suddenly come alive, hurtling toward the first hairpin turn.

You’ll probably recover. You’ll probably hit the brake in time to cautiously pass that first turn. (And then you’ll probably re-evaluate just how hard you can press that gas pedal next time.)

But things might not turn out that way, too.

You might come to a standstill stop, slamming on the brake, frozen in fear. You might fishtail out. You might lose control and hit the side of the track (in which case, you also might have the embarrassing distinction of triggering a caution lap for the safety of other racers — I’m not making this up).

That’s what’s so cool about the Autobahn — just like at a real racetrack, there’s this hint of danger in the air.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, they have a special on the 4th: $75 for all you can ride from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

They also have regular hours for the rest of the holiday weekend: Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

During those hours, you'll pay by the race, and I’ll warn you — it’s not cheap. You’ll want to do at least three races to get the hang of it, which depending on when you go, could cost up to $50 a person.

But it's worth it.

It's a thrilling unique experience that's a great way to spend a lazy summer afternoon with friends.

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