Biz Beat

Taking to the track – and losing my phone – at Funworks

Do you know what’s really nice of me? Sometimes I do stupid things in reporting for this column, just to help keep you from making the same mistakes.

A case in point: Last week I learned that when you are driving an electric go-kart, you really don’t need to be trying to take video. There’s always the chance you can slam into the side rail and watch your phone go flying.

Not that I did that. OK, yes I did. All in the name of journalism.

This happened at Funworks in Modesto, where photographer Andy Alfaro and I went to check out the new electric karts.

Racing itself isn’t new at Funworks; the family fun center’s website boasts that it has “the only triple-level go-kart track in California.”

But the gas-powered karts, at 12 years old, were coming to the end of their lifespan, manager Tiffannie Raney said. “We knew it was about time to look at a new fleet.”

Electric carts offered a lot of pluses, she said. They can be controlled to top out at various speeds, 8 mph, 12 mph and 18 mph. That means children as young as 8 can drive on their own, as long as they measure 46 inches. That’s 10 inches shorter than the previous height requirement.

“It’d be so sad to see kids going up to the line” and missing the mark, Raney said.

The new carts also have adjustable seats, lights and speakers. They don’t make the loud noise their gas-powered counterparts do, but the speakers provide road sounds. And they can also provide warnings to people who are not following the rules, Raney said.

Finally, the new carts are more environmentally friendly. “We’re locally owned, and that was important to us,” Raney said. It’ll also be important to folks waiting in line to ride who won’t be breathing in gas fumes.

The new carts made their debut on Friday; a grand opening will be scheduled in January. The cost varies depending on the tickets purchased for it and other rides and activities. An all-day pass is $31.

Funworks, for those who haven’t been there, also has batting cages, an arcade, bumper cars and a pirate ride. And for fuddy-duddies like me, the miniature golf that started it all the way back when it was Putt Putt remains popular.

As for my phone, when I sheepishly went to track it down – with help from marketing coordinator Annette Morrison, who pointed out that’s why they emphasize the importance of two hands on the wheel – it was good as new. Thanks, Otterbox.

And you’re welcome for that cautionary tale.

Find Funworks at 4307 Coffee Road. Call 209-549-7888 or visit