It's hard to say which is more distinctive: the karts zipping around Octane Raceway or the track itself. During each lap on the 1/3-mile course, drivers zoom through an indoor area, then weave around an outdoor section that's covered by a permanent steel canopy, making for a hybrid experience rarely found in American go-kart tracks not owned by bored supervillains.
An equally rare find in the U.S. is the raceway's fleet of 32 Sodi RTX karts, all imported from France, whose electric motors give off zero emissions while reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Drivers who can stay in control at these top speeds are in for success: the winner of each race is determined not by who finishes a given number of laps first, but by who puts up the fastest single lap time, a result that's posted both at the track and online for posterity.
Races take place in a 65,000-square-foot space that doubles as a gathering place for parties and corporate events for up to 500 attendees. In addition to racing, the raceway is also home to off-track activities that include shooting pool in the billiards room, scaling a 21-foot rock-climbing wall, and melting burgers and pizza into rocket fuel at the Trackside Bar and Grill.
After earning a degree in kinesiology in 1991, Jill Dailey McIntosh gravitated toward Pilates. She began training other teachers and helped run a personal-training and Pilates business, but she wasn't completely satisfied. She wanted her clients to be able to shape their bodies more aggressively without losing the proper alignment and form in a classroom-like setting. After visiting New York several times and training under Lotte Berk instructors, Jill was inspired to create her own fitness modality. Combining her background in kinesiology, personal training, and dance, she developed The Dailey Method. Today, her method has spread to more than 40 locations throughout the United States, Canada, and France.
A blend of Pilates, ballet, and yoga, The Dailey Method helps students strengthen and stretch the body's major muscle groups. Jill designed the low-impact classes to challenge bodies, minds, and spirit animals alike as students build their cores, align their spines, and tone lean muscles. Instructors help students master the proper form for each motion, whether they're swinging dumbbells or bellying up to the barre to work their quadriceps.
It begins with a flurry of activity. Balloon operators prepare for lift-off, checking equipment and tossing ropes as spectators wander the grounds, observing the action. And then it reaches a new level: dozens of balloons take flight at once, filling the crisp January dawn sky with brilliant blues, purples, oranges, and reds that rival the colors around them. The Arizona Balloon Classic's orbs then set off on an aerial hare-and-hound race, drawing cheers from below as onlookers snap pictures.
For one weekend each year, visitors gather on the grounds to snap pictures and watch the balloons inflate and lift-off outside the Fear Farm Entertainment & Sports Complex for the Classic??a three-day festival celebrating hot-air balloon flight and culture. But the fun doesn't end with the descent to earth. After sunset the tethered balloons begin to glow, lighting up for the DESERT GLOWS portion of the festivities. Attendees browse exhibits and feast on treats from a variety of vendors, and children play in the Family Fun Zone. Last, on Saturday evening, sparks give balloons a run for their money, springing through the sky in a stunning fireworks display.
Ben Chen has experienced his share of success in his nearly 30-year photography career?his work has been published in such publications as Cosmopolitan, The Los Angeles Times, and ESPN Magazine, and he has lent his expertise to some of the nation's largest corporations, including Procter & Gamble and The American Red Cross. In 2006, the photographer began to notice that more and more novices were purchasing complex DSLR cameras, and that gave him an idea. Chen decided to share his wealth of knowledge with aspiring photographers by creating the 4-Hour Newbie Photography Boot Camp, which teaches students how to shoot manually with their DSLRs and create artistic, professional-quality photos. Since then, more than 5,000 students in 20 cities throughout the country have benefited from these classes. In 2013, he acquiesced to student demand and created Part II of the class, which goes beyond photography basics by diving into post-production techniques. Nowadays, students can take both Part I and Part II in the same day, helping them go from student to master in less time than most action-movie montages.
At Casey's SportsWorld, the owners stripped down the ice from an outdoor hockey rink, replaced it with multipurpose, artificial turf, and retained the oval's lights and bleachers to create an outdoor arena that hosts games of soccer, flag football, kickball, and monthly dodge-ball tournaments. Casey's baseball and softball batting cages differ from most in that players can swing for a 200-foot home-run fence while batting from one of three slow-pitch softball cages or seven baseball cages, which sling pitches as fast as 80 miles per hour and feature an arm-style mechanism that emulates human pitchers or talented robots with soup-ladle arms.
Designed to honor a legendary species named the Marsh-wiggle, Casey's SportsWorld's mini-golf course boasts its own brand of folklore. As guests attempt to sink testy putts or manipulate their opponents' scorecard, they can speculate about the origin of the Volkswagen Beetle that is half-embedded into the ground, which denizens of Casey's SportsWorld believe squished the last remaining Marsh-wiggle.
Va Bene brings the rustic flavors of Old World cooking to a New World setting. The chefs hand-make gnocchi and craft marinara and pesto sauces from scratch, giving homespun character to rigatoni bolognese and veal marsala. But the staff also showcases a bit of elegance with entr?es such as roasted pork tenderloin, stuffed with prosciutto and plated with a cranberry and port wine reduction. Dishes both classic and contemporary are complemented by a thoughtfully curated wine list, which includes more than 90 different bottles from vineyards and wine-spewing geysers across the world.
The restaurant's tasteful cuisine is mirrored by its decor. Rich red drapes accent the main dining room's windows and open doorways, echoing the hues found in the plush banquettes and faux-textured ceiling. In the adjoining bar, a four-sided, granite-topped bar houses a wide array of wines, spirits, and beers. Both rooms fill with the sounds of live musical performances on Friday and Saturday evenings, ensuring diners' ears are as satisfied as their stomachs.