Tag Archives: Glendale Star


Kart racing enthusiasts packing Speed Street

by Jason Stone

It was not cheap for Tex Taylor and his two sons, but opening up a European-style indoor go-kart facility is a family dream come true.
It became a reality two weeks ago when Speed Street opened its doors at Bell Road and 67th Avenue in a 66,000-square foot facility that used to be a furniture store.
After 13 months of haggling over zoning with city officials, convincing the City Council to approve the project and raising the more than $1 million it took to install the one-third mile track and refurbish the rest of the inside, Speed Street opened up to crowds even Dallas-native Taylor was shocked about.
“We didn’t do any advertising and we haven’t had time to promote this,” Taylor said. “Just imagine what’s going to happen when we do.”
Word of mouth — and frequent return drivers — kept lines steady at the facility in its first week, making the track a success in its owner’s eyes.
One of only 80 indoor tracks in the U.S., Speed Street is the largest. Adult cars go up to 50 miles per hour, while youth cars for ages 8 through 14 speed as fast as 30 miles per hour.
The track features hard turns, one long straightaway and enough twists to give riders a complete body workout.
“Actually, I think it’s relaxing,” said 36-year-old forklift mechanic David Dykstra. “You can take out your frustrations and do all the things you can’t do out on the street.”
Dykstra was one of a handful of return riders the first week. Taylor said many drivers have already paid a $20 yearly membership fee, which gives them discounts all year.
“When you ride them one time, you’re addicted,” Taylor said. “After one time, you might as well start putting it in your monthly budget.”
The track features a $50,000 timing system, which gives riders a printout of their racing time. Up to 15 drivers can drive on the track at one time for 12 minutes.
The average lap time for adults has been between 45 and 50 seconds, and the top time has been falling almost daily as tire grooves begin to settle in the track.
Topping their times is the main reason drivers return, Taylor said.
“It’s an adrenelin rush,” said Kevin Cutting, 24, of Glendale. “I’ve already done this about 30 times. I want to beat my time.”
Go-kart racing is huge in Europe, where outdoor and indoor complexs rival the size of amusement parks in the United States.
Taylor, 45, and his two sons — Tex III, a graduate of Mountain Ridge High School; and Wesley, a senior at Sandra Day O’Connor High School — moved to the Valley in 1992 but always dreamed of opening a racing facility.
“Racing is in our blood and my sons inspired me to do this,” Tex Taylor said.
Speed Street is expecting to house Indy cars and NASCARs in the lobby and has an arcade. Taylor is also opening a conference room for corporate events and birthday parties. Using the room is free for birthday parties and children in the party get $5 off driving charges.
Racing is $25 for a 12-minute run. Members receive $5 off and $75 gets drivers an all-day pass.
“Opening this place took twice as long and twice the money than I planned,” Taylor said. “But, so far, it’s been totally worth it.”

Published at glendalestar.com • June 15, 2005


Sports workshop coming to Glendale

by Jason Stone

The City of Glendale is part of a Linking Sports and Communities Luncheon at Glendale Civic Center Friday afternoon.

WESTMARC, Glendale and the Leadership Consortium are holding a luncheon and workshop and plan to present the Pat Tillman Community Service Awards to this year’s winners, including the City of Glendale.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez will also be honored with National Junior Minority Golf founder Bill Dickey.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. and stars emcee Craig Fouhy from ABC-15 TV.

Jeff Moorad, the new general partner of the Diamondbacks, will be the keynote speaker of the event.

The second part of the half-day event consists of workshops featuring speakers such as KTAR-radio’s Dave Burns, Phoenix Coyotes general manager Michael Barnett and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Tickets to the event are available at www.linkingsports.com or by calling (602) 763-9900.

Published at glendalestar.com • June 15, 2005

high schools

Independence hopes makeover helps success

by Jason Stone

When Independence High School football coach Kelley Moore arrived to campus three years ago, all he heard from players was the same question.
“Everybody kept asking me, ‘When are you leaving?'” Moore said. “They said, ‘Nobody stays here.'”
The revolving door of coaches and administrators on campus was real. The football team, in fact, had three coaches in three years prior to Moore’s arrival.
But since then, the football team has had the same coach for three years, the school is going on its third straight year with the same athletic director (Mike Siwek) and the school’s facilities are being upgraded to help the school’s sports teams compete with others.4c50a14535446.image
Instead of coaches and students defecting to other schools, Independence is now hoping to have a selling point to keep students and coaches on 75th Avenue.
“With (new nearby school) Kellis High School going state of the art with their facilities, we had to do something to give students some shopping,” Siwek said. “We were losing a lot of kids to neighboring districts. Now, they’ll want to stay here.”
As part of a $80 million bond passed for the Glendale Union High School District last November, Independence is getting an all-weather track installed this summer and is making big improvements like the construction of a two-story media center/science building and small touches like a fresh coat of paint for the first time in more than a decade.
“Having the all-weather track will be outstanding,” said Moore, who took over a team that won no games and led them to their first region championship in more than 20 years last season.
Moore said, “We have one of the fastest girls in the state right across the street, but she went to Peoria (High) because we don’t have an all-weather track. Hopefully, that will keep some people here.”
Sports success and Independence have not gone together in the same sentence very much. But school officials are hoping that will turn around.
Track participation has already increased greatly in anticipation of the new surface.
Four years ago, the school had only 17 athletes on the track team. Last season, 94 athletes participated.
The gym is receiving an air-conditioning unit this summer, replacing the evaporative cooler that failed to keep the big building cool and played havoc with badminton matches because of the gust of wind it created.
“It gets warm and moist in there, especially the beginning of the year,” Siwek said. “Now, we won’t have that.”

Published at glendalestar.com • June 8, 2005

Drink helps local golfer vie for U.S. Open spot

by Jason Stone

If it’s good enough for football star Terrell Owens, it must be good enough for anybody. That’s the philosophy of local golf instructor Dave Swartz, who has been drinking his way into position to battle for a spot at the upcoming U.S. Open.

Owens, the All-Pro wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, is one of a growing number of people who are drinking an ancient elixir to help them overcome injuries or gain a legal edge in sports.

When Owens broke his ankle before the playoffs last season, it appeared it would take a miracle for him to play in the Super Bowl.

Owens did play, but attributed his return to the “grace of God,” and a little-known juice called Noni.

The Tahitian juice dates back 2,000 years, when ancient Polynesians believed it helped heal injured bones, muscles and tissues.

Two years ago, Swartz gave the juice a try, and he said it has turned his game — and life — around.

The 45-year-old golfer has tried many times to qualify for the PGA Tour, and came close in 1990, when he lost in a playoff of a sectional qualifier.

But after coming up short for the next 12 years, Swartz, a teaching pro at Glen Lakes Golf Course, tried the Noni juice and he said it has elevated his game.

“My workouts are better now than in my college days,” Swartz said.

Swartz shot a round of 68 May 16 at Phoenix Country Club to qualify for a sectional qualifier for the second time. He will play in Tarzana, Calif., Monday with hopes of making this summer’s U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C.

“We’re rooting for him all the way,” said Chuck Smith, whose 8-year-old son, Jake, takes lessons from Swartz at Glen Lakes.

Chuck Smith is actually one of the people Swartz has convinced to try Noni.

“He has been telling me to do it for about six months,” Smith said. “So, I finally started it about two weeks ago, and I’m already sleeping better, and the pain in my nerves of my back are going away. Dave said to me, ‘If you feel this good after two weeks, just wait until how you feel after three months.'”

Swartz may feel he has a secret weapon to his success, but friends and clients know all about his recent accomplishments.

“People are so happy for you,” Swartz said. “Some students made me a card and they put in some money to pay for my trip. It’s great.”

Swartz said he feels he’s better prepared for the qualifier this year.

He said he has gained experience over the years, including caddying for his brother, Mike, who played on the PGATour in 1996 and qualified for three U.S.Opens.

“That was the year that Tiger Woods won his first tournaments,” Swartz said. “And Tiger played right ahead of my brother in three of the four rounds that year.

“One of the things that makes Tiger so great is his workouts. It gives him confidence. I have that now, too.”

Swartz said he does 5,000 jumps on the jump rope and runs three miles each day.

“It’s all because of the Noni,” Swartz said. “I wasn’t doing that before.”

In an age when “juiced up” takes on a different meaning, Swartz is trying to create his own definition.

Published at glendalestar.com • June 2, 2005

high schools

Ironwood frosh leads list of state track winners

by Jason Stone

Some runners call track’s 800 meters the hardest race to complete. It is not a sprint, nor is it a distance run, making it tricky for some.
That does not apply to Ironwood freshman Leah Ybarra.
In only a handful of races, Ybarra went from randomly trying the event to state champion.
Ybarra won the 800-meter dash at the 5A state track and field championship at Arizona State University last week after picking up the event midway through the season “to help the team score some points.”
Normally a 100-meter sprinter, Ybarra has never lost an 800 race.
“I’m still really surprised,” the 15-year-old Ybarra said.
Ybarra held off city-foe Shelley Splittberger of Deer Valley in the 800, winning with a time of two minutes, 14.56 seconds, just .15 of a second ahead of Splittberger.
Ybarra wasn’t the only local state champion in the 800.
Mountain Ridge’s Reese Byerrum won his second consecutive boys 800 title by turning in a time of 1:52.09. He outpaced Deer Valley’s Chris Tabanico, who finished third at 1:56.00.
Ybarra and Byerrum helped their teams finish the highest among local schools.4c50a16f6c0e7.image
Ironwood’s girls finished with 36 points to take fifth as a team, behind South Mountain, Desert Vista, Flowing Wells and (Mesa) Mountain View.
Mountain Ridge’s boys finished in a tie for 12th.
Ironwood and Deer Valley’s boys teams nearly collected some state champions.
Ironwood’s Paul Gill took second in the high jump and actually tied the mark for highest jump at 6 feet, 10 inches. Teammate Skylar Hagg finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-10.
In addition to Tabanico’s third-place finish in the 800, Deer Valley received a third place from Jason Thier in the discus.
Among local 5A girls, Ironwood was bolstered by points in six events beside Ybarra’s win.
The 4×100 relay team took third, while the 4×400 team finished fourth. Sarah Reeves picked up points in the triple jump (fifth) and long jump (sixth), while Kelsey Klein was sixth in the high jump and Valerie Scott took sixth in the 100 hurdles.
The 4A races at Mesa Community College crowned Greg Lacey a two-time champion.
The junior at Glendale High School, defended his state championship in the long jump and added the triple jump title to his resume.
Lacey leaped 22-6½ in the long jump and 44-8 in the triple jump to help Glendale finish 11th as a team, the highest of all local 4A boys teams.
Lacey’s brother, Craig, also picked up points with a fourth-place finish in the shot put.
Cactus and Apollo picked up points without winning any events.
The Cobras got a sixth-place finish from Josh Butler in the 800, while their 4×800 relay team took sixth.
Apollo’s Prince Amukamara (fourth in the 100) and Monti Washington (eighth in the high jump) scored the Hawks’ points.
In the 4A girls race, Cactus’ Jessica McDonald followed up a triple championship in last week’s Wells Fargo Region meet with a state title in the 400 to help the Cobras take second as a team.
McDonald turned in a time of 55.26 seconds in the 400 to win by half a second over Lake Havasu’s Meaghan Ryan.
McDonald also took third in the 100 and 200.
The Cobras were also helped by a second-place showing from Katherine Allen in the high jump. Allen leaped 5-4 to lose to Agua Fria’s Linda Ubah by two inches.
The Cobras’ 4×400 relay team also took second, while Cactus’ 4×100 relay squad ended up seventh.
Sophia Guerrero was fourth in the shot put to round out Cactus’ scoring.
Apollo, Glendale and Independence each had one state girls placer.
Precious Amukamara was sixth in the 200, while Dominque Mayberry was third in the 300 hurdles for Independence and Fantina Santiago was eighth in the discus for Glendale.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 22, 2005