Grownups in go-karts race for charity, SkyWest Mini Indy

ST. GEORGE — The 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy go-kart race returned to the Ridge Top Complex in St. George Friday, with some 34 teams from around the world competing for the winning trophy.

Competitors take on the "wet corner" during the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Competitors take on the “wet corner” during the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Hosted by SkyWest Airlines, United Way Dixie and the City of St. George, the Mini Indy race is composed mainly of competitors from the aerospace field, but Wal-Mart and Dixie State University also had karts in the lineup. The winding course was set up at the site of the former St. George Municipal Airport.

Mike Thompson, chief operating officer for SkyWest, said the event was designed to have fun and help those in need.

“This event is a bunch of adults, a bunch of grownups racing go-karts around, just having a good time,” Thompson said. “But the real point here is to raise money for local charities.”

In 16 years of racing, the event has raised over $1 million for United Way Dixie, Thompson said. With those funds, United Way Dixie has helped 12 homeless families find places to live, added 17 mentors to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and paid legal fees for 170 victims of domestic violence.

“It’s really about just making an impact in the community,” Thompson said.

Rebekah Pectol, executive director of United Way Dixie, said 100 percent of the funds raised during the event go to 17 local nonprofits in Washington County. Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Dove Center and the Learning Center for Families receive the majority of their funding from United Way Dixie.

We rely so heavily on the funds received from Mini Indy to help support our local community and these charities,” Pectol said. “It funds over 50 percent of our annual funding, just this one event every year.”

Fred Reina, who is part of the Embraer race team (an aerospace company that supplies SkyWest with some of its aircraft) said he likes the camaraderie found at the annual event.

The Bombardier Aerospace Go-Kart at the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
The Bombardier Aerospace Go-Kart at the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“There’s many vendors here and suppliers that are full-blown competitors (in the aerospace industry) and they never talk. They never associate during the year,” Reina said. “Until Mini Indy. Everybody has a chance to rub elbows and smile with each other a bit.”

Lisa Higgins came to the track to support her husband who was driving a kart for the United Health Care team.

“We’ve come for quite a few years because he’s worked for SkyWest for about 15 years now,” Higgins said, “But this is his first time racing.”

It was exciting to watch her husband behind the wheel, she said.

SkyWest pilot Jeremy Melina, who was nominated by colleagues to drive one of the company go-karts, was enjoying his experience on the track.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s a challenging course today.”

Trophies at the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Trophies at the 16th annual SkyWest Mini Indy race in St. George, Utah, Mar. 18, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Racing was a little more competitive and intense at times when compared to piloting a commercial aircraft, said Melina, adding he was glad his life as a pilot is calmer than the race.

“I like a calm, relaxing flight,” he said.

Melina said if he had an opportunity to do it again, he wouldn’t hesitate.

“Absolutely,” he said. “If I ever get the chance I would love to do it again. Or just come down and volunteer and help.”

Resources

  • SkyWest Mini Indy Race website
  • United Way Dixie website

Click on photo to enlarge, use left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply