Racers got their fix of '90s nostalgia on the go kart track.
Finally, Columbus’s appeal as a test market pays off for something really important: live-action “Mario Kart.” Well, technically, the legally appropriate title is “Mushroom Rally.” The go karting event has been making the rounds through 16 cities. It cruised into Grand Prix Karting Indoor Entertainment on the East Side on Saturday and Sunday, June 29-30.
My friend, Ryan, and I attended and were treated to an impressive day of nostalgia and chaos. When we walked in, the building was already buzzing with a DJ spinning ‘80s and ‘90s classics as Marios, Luigis, Princesses and Toads milled about.
After signing in and watching a safety DVD, we were able to select our costumes. Most of the “Mario Kart” characters were present (no Wario options, sadly), along with a random selection of “Batman” outfits. I chose the best character of all — Mario, naturally — and Ryan was Toad. While we waited for our turn to race, we kept occupied with games, which included miniature golf, ring toss and, yes, the "Mario Kart" video game.
There was also trivia. I learned (or maybe I was reminded) that Luigi’s last name is Mario. That sent me down a dark path of trying to determine if Mario’s full name is Mario Mario, and I can tell you that it’s a contentious debate.
By playing the games, we were able to collect stars for prizes ranging from candy to a trip to Las Vegas for the final race. My favorite was an inflatable money-blowing machine. We were also told we could find stars hidden throughout the facility, but I had a suspicion the staff members were too frantic to properly hide them. And I think my suspicion was confirmed when I saw an employee toss a star in plain sight right in front of me with a laugh.
For those who have driven go karts before, you can expect the status quo on the track, except for some sweet inflatable decorations that resembled the video game scenery. I was new to the activity, but once I got the hang of it, I found it exhilarating! However, I couldn’t figure out how to pass the person in front of me (darn you, Yoshi).
I managed to take eighth place: not last, but not high enough to earn a spot on the podium (though no one will stop you from taking a picture on the top block should you choose to lie for Instagram). Those who don’t suck will also be in the running for the Vegas trip; racers with the fastest lap times in their cities will be selected to compete in Sin City on Dec. 6.
The only negative part of the experience was the heat — adding blue overalls and a long-sleeved red shirt on top of my black jeans and tee was not the most comfortable choice. So dress light. Overall, I highly recommend “Mushroom Rally” should it come back next year.
Thank goodness the driving aspect precluded the “just add craft beer” rule Columbus enjoys applying to every event. It was nice to return to the simple joys of childhood for a few hours.