Just because Track House has closed doesn't mean the race is over. It's simply moved to a new location, complete with a new name. Now, local fun lovers can head to Captain Jack's for all their karting and arcade needs.
Captain Jack's officially opened on July 25, taking up three suites in the Mineral Industrial Center in north Bakersfield. It has everything customers loved about the previous location in a smaller, more manageable space.
Owner Mike Ross is again at the helm of the entertainment business, having started Track House in October 2018 after taking over the Gilmore Avenue location from the owners of Bakersfield Karting Experience.
"We have everything we had at the other location," Ross said. "We won't skip a beat as far as entertainment goes."
Ross explained that when the lease at Track House ended, he decided to find a new home for the business. He said the kart track and arcade didn't need as much space as the original building offered. (It will soon become the Dignity Health Sports Complex, Event & Educational Center.)
When looking for a new space, Ross was drawn to the Mineral Court location in part because of Respawn, a neighboring laser tag business.
"I wanted to put it next to another attraction to create a full-scale entertainment venue, between laser tag, the arcade and the karting," Ross said.
Instead of creating competition, both Captain Jack's and Respawn have been promoting each other's business, knowing together they can offer an entertainment experience that checks all the boxes.
"I think it's a great opportunity for both of us," said Rob Anderson, owner of Respawn. "Our goal at Respawn is bringing quality entertainment to Bakersfield. Having Captain Jack's next door just elevates that experience. We don't have to compete to succeed."
Ross often points his customers toward Respawn when they've worked up an appetite, as that business offers food as well, thanks to Anderson's experience as a chef. The two businesses will also team up for birthday parties to offer customers a fuller experience.
The name for Ross' new business comes from his 7-year-old son, Jack, who is already a fan of the place that shares his name. (Ross' other son, Mark, has a hot chocolate stand named after him at Christmas Town, another brainchild of the family entertainment entrepreneur.)
Though the track is smaller at Captain Jack's, it will require a bit more skill to handle its tighter turns, Ross said. Customers will still race for the same amount of time as they did on the larger track at the previous location, but because of its smaller size, they will get more laps.
"It's more of a work out," Ross said. "It's a very technical track."
The arcade is a couple suites over from where the track is, and that's where guests will start, whether they have come to Captain Jack's for racing or games. At the front of the building, they will pay for their race and/or game cards for the arcade.
Beyond the front counter in the arcade suite is 50 games, with something for gamers of any age. Some games include classics like Skee-Ball and Down the Clown and more modern video games like The Walking Dead and Jurassic Park. One Ross is especially excited about is the four-person "Halo: Fireteam Raven."
"We're the first in town to have that," Ross said.
Another exciting new addition is the Omni Arena virtual reality machine. Guests will be able to put on a VR headset, strap into a safety harness to stay on their feet, and explore 16 different games. Players can fight zombies, try to survive a haunted house or, for those in need of something a little less creepy, practice virtual archery.
"We have options for 4-year-olds to adults," Ross said of the VR games. "We have a pretty wide spectrum for everybody."
In one corner of the arcade is a laser maze, where guests can channel their inner Catherine Zeta Jones in "Entrapment," dodging lasers to complete a mission.
With everything there is to do at Captain Jack's, one might guess it took several months to put together. But Ross and his team got it together in about a month, after learning the Track House lease was ending in the middle of June and getting the new place open by late July.
For the quick turnaround, Ross credits his team, which has worked with him on several projects on a tight deadline with Christmas Town, Scare Valley haunted maze last year and a holiday light show in Las Vegas each year.
"My team is designed for temporary events," Ross said. "We're used to not having time. We're kind of trained for it."
Response to the move has so far been good, Ross said, both from his own customers and Respawn's. He said he is excited about the opportunity to team up as neighbors to provide the best entertainment.
"Rob's great in the kitchen, his laser tag is great, so we've always been a fan of his place, and his people love our arcade," Ross said. "It's a great fit for both of us, and the real winner is the community."