Kart business back on track after fire

STACEY KNOTT
Last updated 12:58 15/08/2014
Nick Fowler
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
QUICK WORK: Nick Fowler, owner of Pro Karts, is rebuilding after his Tahunanui Beach business was hit by arsonists in March.
Nick Fowler
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
GUTTED: Damage to the building can be seen after the fire in March.

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Arson-hit Pro Karts is back in business and better than ever, its owner says.

A deliberately lit fire at Tahunanui Beach in March gutted a building on the premises and damaged 13 karts.

Pro Karts owner Nick Fowler said about half of his fleet of karts was damaged beyond repair, as well as the control and timing gear for them.

The business closed for about four weeks after the blaze, and has been operating just the adult karts until last weekend.

After five months, the fire-damaged building has gone, and in its place is a wooden viewing platform, where people can watch their friends or family zoom around the race track.

Fowler is erecting a new building and workshop, which he expects to be ready in a few weeks. He said it would be in a better position than the one that was gutted. "The opportunity was there to build it better and purpose designed, on a spot better and bigger."

Some of the karts and the work spaces were currently housed in four shipping containers on site.

It was mostly Fun Karts, designed for children to drive, as well as a few of the adult Pro Karts that were damaged in the blaze, so Fowler set about replacing his karts, and renovating what was left. He had 25 karts in the "new and improved fleet".

Now, he was back up and running, with 12 new Sodi karts imported from Britain and worth about $6000 each.

Fowler said his insurance had been "really good. They got us back up and running and replaced everything. They did as much as they could do".

He did not want to dwell on the fire, and did not think he had been personally targeted in the blaze.

"I just focus on the positive and looking forward."

He said he had had numerous visits from police on the matter, and believed the arson attack was the work of youths. However, as a preventive measure the new building would not be made of timber, like the old one.

Fowler said the new 40kmh karts were lighter and faster, and were "shaving seconds off the laps" each time they were used.

Nelson detective Neil Kitchen said the fire in March was "definitely arson". Police had been investigating the arson but did not have any suspects. Kitchen said the investigation was continuing.

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- The Nelson Mail

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