The Grand Prix is one of the largest street race karting events in the world. This thrilling race began in the 1990’s and is experiencing an exciting reboot today. The beauty of its new host city, Elkhart, Indiana, and the Riverwalk track, featuring not one but two bridges for the karts, have allowed it to regain a big following that showcases the sport. In the world of racing, the Grand Prix is an extremely well-known event. At one point, it was even televised by ESPN! Genesis Products, a local Elkhart company, is a proud sponsor of the race this year.
All eyes will be on local AJ Balthes as he takes to the streets to represent his city.
The Perfect Excuse to Race
AJ first watched the Grand Prix in 1996 when visiting family. He was entranced by the race, with its daredevil hairpin turns and passing points, and immediately said, “I have to do that.” He began racing in his early twenties for four full seasons and then took nine years off after the birth of his daughter. Today, AJ competes once a year. He’s been waiting for an excuse to race, and having the Grand Prix moved back to Elkhart gives him that reason. It’s an opportunity for him to hit “pause” and commit to doing it.
“Very few local people race,” AJ explains, reflecting on why the event is so important to him. “It’s mostly people from out of town and out of state, which is great for the community as it brings business here. There also aren’t many people left doing this anymore, which makes this race even more meaningful. The layout and the community involvement in making this race happen are incredible. It’s unlike any other karting event in North America.”
AJ’s Advice for Young Racers
AJ didn’t realize the resources that were available when he was young and fascinated by racing. His biggest advice to young people interested in racing is to ask questions, ask for help and know that there are resources available. One of AJ’s goals is to start a development program for racing aimed at young children. He wants to bring more local exposure to racing to grow the sport. In the meantime, AJ mentions there’s a great karting facility in North Liberty, Indiana that features a school.
Striving to Be Better
“My goal is always to win,” AJ says. “Not winning is always disappointing, but just to participate and finish the whole weekend without wrecking is great. I’m always striving to be better.”
Race sponsor Genesis Products was founded in 2002 with the belief that there is always a better way. Over the years, Genesis has grown to become a leading supplier to the cabinet, store fixture, RV and the business and institutional furniture industries.
Learn more by visiting genesisproductsinc.com/about/#values.