The 200-foot straightaway comes to an end in one of six wheel-testing curves. The Honda 5.5-horsepower engine hums in anticipation. The moment foot touches pedal, hydraulic brakes give their answer and the racing wheels cling to the textured concrete as the go-kart deftly whips through the turn. Coming up on the end of an eight-minute streak of adrenaline, racers zip past the final stretch of the 1/5-mile race track, tearing ahead of each other as the computerized timing system clocks each score to fuel future bragging rights and rematch challenges.
From Kart 2 Kart's café and bar, applause rises as family, friends, and opponents sizing up the competition send their appreciation down to the track, which they've been watching as they nosh on a selection of snacks and beverages. Juniors, meanwhile, wait their turn to hit the blacktop in age-appropriate Formula-K karts. Before strapping in, all racers receive instruction and a safety lesson, during which they learn how to operate the equipment, then strive to set records that can earn them a spot on the website's scoreboard.
Strings of colored lights twinkle from the rafters of Gator Jake's Bar Grill Patio, where walls of retro neon and pressed-metal signs lend the dining room a vivacious vibe. The menu brings creole and southwestern perspectives to the table, providing etouffees, steak-fajita subs, and barbecue chicken monterey to complement a glass of Beringer wine, a specialty cocktail, or a beer called Guinness, Killian's, or Corona. Wall-mounted flat-screen televisions broadcast major sporting events as the sounds of clacking pool balls, whirring darts, and songs from the jukebox and periodic live entertainment fill the air. Open until 2 a.m., Gator Jake's—which took third place in the 2011 Detroit A-List's race for Best Sports Bar—welcomes patrons to stay for a late-night birthday party or celebrate the opening of a foreign stock exchange far, far away.
The self-proclaimed home of the $1 draft, Dooleys Tavern keeps 20 beers cascading from their taps. Those suds complement the chefs' pub food, which includes American tavern classics such as half-pound burgers and up to 50 chicken wings doused in a choice of four sauces. The draft beer house also concocts American dishes with an Irish twist such as corned-beef sliders and a pizza filled with mashed potatoes and topped with bacon and red onions.
Seven nights a week, Dooleys’ three locations keep guests entertained until 2 a.m. on an outdoor patio, in a room full of classic bar games, and with plenty of HDTVs showing the game. The trio of taverns also accommodates up to 100 guests for private parties. Additionally, the Mount Clemens location pairs feasts with sidesplitting routines from standup comics in Carmen's Showroom.
The independently owned Community Bowling Centers accommodate bowlers of all ages and abilities, featuring bumper-equipped lanes and lightweight balls designed for the hands of pintsize players. At 10 smoke-free locations throughout the region, guests enjoy open hours in addition to league opportunities and special events. The onsite bar serves ice-cold cups of soda or beer, which guests may raise in toasts to friendship and man's ability to hydrate himself. On select evenings, the alley lights turn down and the ethereal illumination of Glow N Bowl takes over with laser-light shows and fog machines. As balls roll down phosphorescent lanes, a sound track of thumping beats and alien distress calls saturates the space.
Part of the venerable Paul Mitchell network, Michigan’s outposts of Paul Mitchell The School channel its storied doctrines of style and mane-manicuring techniques through a skilled squad of student coiffure-carvers and professional instructors. Under the close supervision of an experienced professor of pulchritude, Paul Mitchell student-stylists perform a wide array of services at their Sterling Heights and Port Huron locations, including cute cuts ($10–$14 at Sterling Heights; $7–$10 at Port Huron) and up-styles ($25–$30 at Sterling Heights; $20–$25 at Port Huron). A stylish steaming via iron work ($10–$14 at Sterling Heights) bestows locks with a luscious look while protecting domes during office dodgeball breaks. Clients can also undergo a body-pampering spa service at the Sterling Heights location, such as a facial ($6–$8), lip waxing ($6–$8), or makeup session ($8–$10) to bait more admiring looks than a baby wrapped in hundred dollar bills. Though not included with today's Groupon, high-quality products by the one-and-only Paul Mitchell are for sale to take home, providing a souvenir of your first date with your new ’do.
Charter Fitness encourages exercise sleuths of all ages and fitness levels to uncover toned silhouettes in a television-lined strength training and cardio center. Before embarking on a journey to a world of muscle, Charter Fitness' experienced staff members can demonstrate the safest way to use the equipment. After that, guests roam the facility in search of stretching and core-training zones stocked with mats, medicine balls, and stability balls, which prepare the body to balance on tight ropes or wobbly garden hoses. Charter's clean, modern facilities are equipped with personal showers, locker rooms, and tanning booths (where available, prices vary) for pampering fatigued physiques. Personal training is available for an extra fee.