There's nothing like a little friendly competition to give your event an edge. Whether they involve driver's-seat action or simulated fun, racing games motivate, titillate and, ultimately, build camaraderie through spirited play.

RIGHT ON COURSE

Whether you opt to go old-fashioned or newfangled, Plan-It Interactive's racing games are all about positioning participants at the center of the action.

Go-karts may bring out the kid in just about everyone, but they also bring on a serious sense of power, says Skip Smith, president of the Pacheco, Calif., company. High-speed — up to 45 miles per hour — and low to the ground, Plan-It Interactive's new line of go-karts allow racers to “know what it feels like to be a professional driver, to feel the rush of adrenaline from making a perfectly executed high-speed pass to the inside,” Smith says. And they don't need a special surface or high-tech gadgetry to do so. “This attraction requires no power and is best experienced in 150 by 225 feet of space on flat asphalt,” Smith notes.

For racing thrills in a slightly more modern mode, Segway racing is “a truly unique experience that appeals to men and women, engineers as well as ‘non-excitable’ types,” he says. On a 30-by-100-foot obstacle course “filled with twists, turns and ramps,” according to Smith, participants can take a practice lap on the motorized, two-wheeled wonders before competing against one another through a series of cones and flags. Segway racing “is great for team-building, competition or just for fun,” Smith says.

SAND ROCKS

In another high-energy hands-on adventure, Las Vegas' Sun Buggy Fun Rentals gives event attendees a chance not just to get behind the wheel of a custom dune buggy, but really let 'er rip.

Sun Buggy event specialist Scott Bradford, who notes that Sun Buggy races can be staged in many desert and beach dune locations, says his most popular package is a team-building timed lap event. The Sun Buggy crew transports equipment and event attendees to the race site, provides instructions and safety gear, and then lets drivers loose. “It's pure team-building magic to watch,” Bradford says.

He notes that the Sun Buggy experience, with its potential for a “real wild ride,” inevitably leaves event attendees with a lingering sense of accomplishment. While the bus ride to the event site normally is a subdued affair, “The bus ride back is much different,” he notes. “You'd swear it was a close-knit family reunion, where they've known each other all their lives and no longer fear embarrassment. The chatter is loud and dotted with laughter … all emanating from people who are covered in dust, with wild-looking hair wearing ear-to-ear smiles.”

FAUX FAST

When venue and event group demand a somewhat smaller — but no less thrilling — race experience, simulation is the best solution.

St. Charles, Mo.'s Gameworld Event Services, which offers Alpine, Downhill Biking and Harley Davidson racers among others, really pumps up the party action with its Daytona 2 interactive video racers. Single-cabinet Daytona racing units can be lined together in groups of up to six for competitive racing action. Three racers require one 20-amp circuit, and all are on wheels for easy transportation.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Kramer International takes make-believe racing to a new level with its Motorsports by Kramer line. Featuring “actual NASCAR Nextel Cup stock cars converted to state-of-the-art interactive simulators,” the Motorsports line, recommended for grand openings, promotions and corporate events, is “designed to give you the same rush your favorite drivers get on race day,” says director of marketing Robert Fisher. Three 100-volt, 20-amp outlets, a 15-by-20-foot space and a sufficiently large entry and load-in access — like a real stock car, the simulator is 78 inches wide and 84 inches long, according to Crank — are all that is needed to get the party started. And with its exclusive motion-control system, fully functional chassis and high-tech special effects, “This is as real as it gets without actually risking your life!” he says.

NEIGH-SAYER

If you'd rather not place guests in the driver's seat but still want to immerse them in competitive racing fun, there's always horse racing.

Custom Event Design of Richmond, Va., offers a custom horse-race party kit complete with race-video DVD, race programs, tabletop betting windows, odds board, play money and betting tickets. The kit also includes tips on using the game for “corporate team-building, networking, social ice-breaking and even lead-generation for sales-oriented companies or associations,” says company president Stan Sauer. With kits designed for 75 to 1,500 guests — the DVD can be screened on a home TV set, large-screen unit or projector screen, depending on group and venue size — the race easily is adapted for everything from Sweet 16 parties to fundraising galas, Sauer notes. With simple setup and strike each requiring less than 15 minutes, “you will have no need for labor, thus reducing costs,” he adds.

RESOURCES

READY, SET, RACE

Custom Event Design
800/560-7472

www.customhorseracepartykit.com

Gameworld Event Services
314/484-9191

www.gameworldevents.com

Kramer International
888/655-7263

www.kramerintl.com

Plan-It Interactive
925/680-6929

www.interactivegame.com

Sun Buggy Fun Rentals
866/728-4443

www.sunbuggyfunrentals.com