ELKHART — Excitement continued to build for the third Thor Industries Elkhart Riverwalk Grand Prix this weekend with the event’s first go-kart night race.

Activities kick off Friday with heats beginning at 5 p.m., setting the stage for a race under the stars. Competition will continue through Saturday evening with an estimated 180 karters competing in over 50 races.

“To have any racing-related event, sanctioned and supported by the United States Auto Club is truly special, and to be able to offer that event free to the public speaks volumes about the event sponsors and their commitment to the vibrancy of downtown Elkhart,” Mayor Tim Neese said. “What I particularly like about this event is that it has something for everyone, even if you are not a race fan.”

Racing is the foundation of a series of events planned throughout the downtown, including family-friendly activities, a cornhole tournament, a fireworks display, 12 food vendors, and four live concerts. All of these activities, including the races, are free and open to the public.

NIBCO Park will be a designated Kids Zone for children 12 and under, featuring a splash pad and bounce houses. On Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m., children can also enjoy free popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy.

The area’s largest Cornhole Championship, presented by Premium Concrete, will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday. Two-player teams will compete in a double elimination bracket and will continue until the champion is crowned. Eighty teams had signed up as of Monday to compete in the $5,000 tournament. Registration continues at www.elkhartgp.com.

Performances on the Lippert Band Stage include DJ Stickey Boots at 6 p.m. Friday and Memphis Underground at 8 p.m. Friday; an d Starlord at 6 p.m. Saturday with headliner Clayton Anderson scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Festivities will wrap up Saturday with a fireworks display at 10 p.m.

All races will follow the same course with the start/finish line near the intersection of Waterfall Drive and High Street. The six-tenths of a mile course will start on Waterfall Drive, continue to Elkhart Avenue to NIBCO Parkway to East Jackson Boulevard and back to Waterfall Drive. Drivers will cross the Elkhart River twice per lap as they race around NIBCO Water and Ice and Kardzhali parks.

This event is provided by the City of Elkhart, United States Auto Club, Thor Industries, Genesis Products, Selge Construction, Premium Concrete, Lippert Components, Kem Krest and NIBCO.

Here are some additional details:

Track crossings

Three pedestrian track crossings will be available, one near the start/finish line, one near Kardzhali Park and another near Hydraulic Ale Works.

Lot, street closures

Several public parking lots are closed to the public including the East High Street Public Parking Lot, the Sears Lot, the Franklin Street Lot across from the 911 Communications Center and  the Civic Plaza Lot. A number of streets also are closed for the weekend. 

Despite these road closures, many businesses in the area will remain open. City staff are working to ensure customers maintain access. Anyone with questions about accessing a downtown business during this time may contact the business directly or call Elkhart Fire Department Division Chief Kristi Sommer at 574-293-8931. All streets will remain closed through Sunday.

Public parking

Public parking will be available at the Marion Street Parking Garage and several other public lots downtown. Two-hour on-street parking will not be enforced after 5 p.m. Friday nor on Saturday.

The latest details leading up to race weekend are available at www.facebook.com/ElkhartGrandPrix/.

Thor Industries Elkhart Riverwalk Grand Prix

FRIDAY, AUG. 9

5 p.m. — Track opening ceremony, kart racing begins, food vendors open, 523 Beer Garden opens, Selge Kids Zone opens

6 p.m. — DJ Stickey Boots

​8 p.m. — Memphis Underground concert

​SATURDAY, AUG. 10

9 a.m. — Premium Concrete Cornhole  Registration

10 a.m. — Kart racing begins, food vendors open, Selge Kids Zone opens, cornhole tournament begins

1-4 p.m. — Free popcorn, snowcones and cotton candy at Selge Kids Zone

3 p.m. — Celebrity kart races

​6 p.m. — Starlord concert

8 p.m. — Kart race awards ceremony

8:30 p.m. — Clayton Anderson concert

10 p.m. — Fireworks finale

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