There he stood, overwhelmed by what he saw. The mile-and-a-half-long property that used to be Muncie’s Slick Track Raceway was now piled with problems.
Charles Venable said he saw tangled vines, overgrown weeds and broken glass on the floor from shattered windows and busted holes in the building drywall.
“It did not appear what it looked like on the social site,” Venable said. “When I brought my wife there, she looked at me with the biggest eyes, like, ‘What are you getting into?’”
Even though he saw all the forks in the road, Venable said to himself, “If I can see the finish line, I’ll get to it.”
Venable, Muncie native and owner of Victory Laps, pioneered his way into creating his own go-kart business using the skills he had acquired working in the auto industry since 1999 as a full-time general manager of Buick GMC in Anderson, Indiana. Venable said he visited the former Slick Track property the day after he came across a post about it on Facebook.
“As soon as I saw it, I thought of a quote — ‘One man’s challenge is another man’s opportunity,’” Venable said. “The first thing I looked at was the challenge.”
After deciding he was ready to take the challenge, he bought the property in August 2020. Venable now works at the track with his wife, Dionna Venable, Victory Laps’ special events coordinator.
“I truly purchased it on faith,” Charles Venable said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen with the pandemic — no one did.”
Venable had been looking for an opportunity to contribute toward the community, and he said he wanted to find a way to stay involved in Muncie and provide something unique for kids to do.
“I wanted to make a difference — I didn’t want to have a business just to say I had a business,” he said.
For Venable, the first step of creating a go-kart track involved renovations. He renovated bathrooms, the concession area, the shattered windows and holes in the drywall.
“There was so much cleanup work, even glass was on backorder,” Venable said. “There were a lot of obstacles due to the pandemic.”
Another obstacle Venable faced while setting up for business was getting one of the most essential parts of the business — the go-karts. Venable worked with several different manufacturers until he found the right fit for his business.
“Due to availability, we picked a manufacturer and personally made alterations to the karts to fit our business,” Venable said. “They had been in the industry for over 40 years. Three months later, brand new go-karts showed up on a semi.”
Through all the challenges Venable was facing, he also had to create a logo for his brand. Venable decided to contact George Foley, owner and graphic designer for Muncie-based Tailored Technology. Venable was previously aware of the work that Foley was doing throughout the community, specifically at Union Missionary Baptist Church.
“I met Charles working with his ministry and church,” Foley said. “He had asked me to do some graphic design for them. We’ve been friends ever since.”
Foley graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a master’s degree in graphic design in 2014. Foley’s company, Tailored Technology, designs websites, logos, business cards, flyers and brochures.
“I always kind of like graphics,” Foley said. “I like technology, and thinking outside of the box. I like to see a small business grow.”
Venable and Foley worked together on the logo for Victory Laps, but Venable said he already knew the red, white and black color scheme he wanted for the logo. Tailored Technology also created and printed the banners placed inside the track.
“Charles trusted my creativity,” Foley said. “The logo — achromatic in its skill color — represents everyone in a broad spectrum. The font makes ‘Victory Laps’ stand out.”
Victory Laps officially opened the last week of July 2021 and is located at 2921 E. Jackson St. Since opening, Venable said they have had a successful business and a positive response from the Muncie community.
“I wanted to create a good business name to start,” Venable said. “I wanted to show our vibe, energy and customer service within the 14 weekends of being open.”
Emily Daly, a Victory Laps customer, came across the business through a Facebook ad. Daly said she messaged the business on Facebook to let them know she was interested in having a party.
“Charles called and let me know my options,” Daly said. “It was nice to receive a professional phone call. It took maybe 20 minutes maximum to set the whole thing up.”
After speaking with Venable via phone, Daly decided to celebrate her daughter Avery's 8th birthday party at Victory Laps.
“We like to do things that are different,” Daly said. “It’s nice to have a place in Muncie that’s both clean and absolutely affordable. My husband is 260 pounds and lifts weights — he had no problem fitting in the go-kart. There’s really no restrictions.”
Venable said safety is a very important part of owning a go-kart track. Track coordinators are safety monitors for the track, and there can be up to seven, depending on how many people are racing and the ages of the drivers.
“Track coordinators are trained to look for things that could go wrong,” Venable said. “It helps to prevent accidents.”
Coordinators make sure seat belts are buckled, tires are aired properly and everyone feels comfortable before waving the green flag.
“Coordinators communicate two ways — through colored flags and walkie-talkies,” Venable said. “Yellow or red flags show that we need to stop or that something is wrong. The walkie-talkies allow the coordinators to not have to yell over a loud track.”
Victory Laps’ customers can expect to see “a lot of positive changes” come spring 2022, Venable said, including food every day available for purchase, made by Victory Laps, as well as concession stands and vending machines. Along with these new changes, Venable said the business’ vision is to add a nine-hole putt mini golf course, restore old batting cages and renovate the pool area to add bumper boats.
Venable said he is fulfilling his life’s dream through Victory Laps and wants people to know the reason he invested in this business is because of family.
“We love families,” Venable said. “No matter what type, what color, we want them to feel our love. This is a place to let the world’s problems down. If I can make a difference in three people’s lives, that’s life fulfillment for me.”
Contact Tori Smith with comments at email@example.com or on Twitter @tori_ncl_writer.