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Slice of Life: Funway go-kart operator embraces role

Dominic Hansen starts a race at the go-kart track at Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center in Batavia.
Dominic Hansen starts a race at the go-kart track at Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center in Batavia.

BATAVIA – After the two youngsters were settled into their go-karts at Funway's Outback Raceway, Dominic Hansen instructed them on their operation and the rules they would need to follow before heading out on the track.

"You have your gas pedal on the right and brake on the left," Hansen said to them. "No swerving or cutting people off."

It's all in a day's work for Hansen, go-kart supervisor at Funway Ultimate Entertainment Center in Batavia.

"My job is to keep the flow of traffic moving and ensure the safety of the guests on the track," he said.

Hansen, 20, a 2012 Batavia High School graduate, spent much of his childhood at Funway. He is the son of owner Bob Hansen.

"I would get to try the newest thing we had," Dominic Hansen said.

In 2009, Funway celebrated 50 years of being in business. Bob Hansen bought the entertainment center in 1990 from original owners Richard and Joy Buri. Dominic Hansen has worked at Funway for five years, including almost three years overseeing the racetrack. It's a job that he loves.

"I enjoy working with the public," he said. "It's laid back and it's fun."

He juggles working at Funway with attending Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where he is studying business administration. He will be a junior this fall. Before Outback Raceway opens for the day, he first takes the go-karts for a test run to make sure they are operating correctly and uses a blower to clear the track of any debris.

"The cars are extremely stable," Hansen said. "I've never seen them come close to tipping over."

However, he did see a traffic pileup a few years ago.

"It happened during an end of the school year party," Hansen said. "Ten go-karts got blocked into each other and came to an abrupt stop. The first two or three go-karts spun out and prevented the others from going through. Fortunately, no one was injured."

He also has avoided being injured, adding that "I've never gotten my feet run over."

"You have to keep your head up and anticipate exactly what you don't want them to do," Hansen said.

That includes driving recklessly. If he sees someone driving in a reckless manner, he has the ability to slow down their go-kart or shut it off completely.

"If we do have riders that are too reckless, we will end the ride early," he said. "We've had to kick people off the ride, but it doesn't happen too often."

However, he said he realizes that kids will be kids, acknowledging that "they are out there to have a good time."

"You just have to control the situation," he said

The weather can pose another challenge. In the event of lightning, he said, "you close what you can and get inside."

But for Hansen, there's nothing better than working at the Outback Raceway during the summer.

"I have other duties, but I try to spend as much time outside during the summer," he said. "That's what I enjoy best about the job, being outdoors and meeting new people."

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