The road to building a $6.5 million Overdrive Raceway go kart facility at Polaris Pointe has been a bumpy one for Jim Mundle, his wife Jennifer and their four kids. The entertainment venue is expected to open next to Bass Pro Shops this Memorial Day Weekend, but Mundle had to overcome life-changing hurdles on his way to the finish line. This week, the Castle Rock resident spoke with the Business Journal about his path to Polaris, getting over life’s speed bumps — and leaving them behind in a cloud of dust.
Talk about your background.
I was a Navy brat. My dad retired in Alabama and I graduated high school in Mobile. I went to the University of South Alabama and, while I was there, I saw a posting for Disney’s college program. I interviewed with Disney when they came to our campus and got invited to the program in Orlando. From there I went to Disney’s business school. It really changed me in a lot of ways. I went through their culinary program after college and was taught it’s the little things that make the difference. That’s what separates your Six Flags from Disney. … Yes it’s more money, but in the end, you’re going back because of the way they made you feel.
Why did you leave the culinary field?
I wasn’t getting enough people interaction. Being a chef, you’re behind the scenes most of the time. I always wanted to be in front of people and always had the ability to sell. I had a friend who was in the same program and left Disney to sell office equipment. He told me how good I would be at it. I took a 60-day leave of absence from Disney and interviewed for this company and got the job. … I moved up quickly during my 11 years there … but I had an opportunity to come to Castle Rock and help open an auto repair facility … I fell in love [with the city] immediately. I thought this was the place I want to raise my kids. That was 2004. … From there I went into the magazine industry with the Castle Rock Media Group, which was just starting its Douglas County Living magazine. I was the sales side of the business.
Yeah. About seven years ago I got a staph infection in my left foot. It wouldn’t heal and I had 15 surgeries over five years. I initially got the infection from stepping on a splinter, and I’m a [Type 1] diabetic, which makes it difficult for your extremities to heal. I’d had a fever every day for years and would be home shivering every night. I had to force myself to work and have fun.
So I would have surgery, be on IV antibiotics for six weeks and I’d be fine for a month, but [the infection] would come back and I’d have to have another surgery. It was brutal.
I had one leg amputated in November 2013 and, in October of last year, while on vacation, I wound up getting a blister on my other foot. The same thing happened — I got a staph infection and it wasn’t healing. I went to my doctor on a Tuesday in December. … By the end of that week, I’d had my other leg amputated.
But losing both my legs took nothing away from me. It gave me my life back. No one needs to feel sorry for me. I’ve witnessed people who are fighting for their lives every day. I was in a hyperbaric chamber with cancer patients and every one of them would pay a million dollars to switch places with me.
I had ugly feet anyway. I was never going to be a foot model.
Talk about Overdrive Raceway.
It will be a 68,000-square-foot facility — 34,000 square feet on two floors. We also just had delivered 54 electric Italian go karts. These are professional karts capable of going 75 miles per hour, but they’re remote controlled, so we can tone them down to 55 [miles per hour] for the adult karts and 35 [miles per hour] for the kids.
The two tracks will offer two different experiences. Upstairs, the track is built for speed while downstairs is more of an agility track. The two tracks mean we’ll never be closed to the public. We’ll always have our main track open to the public and the upstairs track can be used for events.
We’ll also sell race packages or people can come in for just one race. We call it ‘Arrive and Drive.’ You get your name in the queue and we have a paging system to your cell phone.
What about this venture excites you?
I’ve always wanted to build the culture of a business, and that’s our responsibility right now. Everything we do is themed — our uniforms, the way the center looks, the way it will feel when you walk in the door — high energy, fun, employees are interactive and engaged with the customers.
The overall experience will be different from anywhere else. And we have the ability to affect people’s lives in different ways. Businesses can be used for good and this will be one of them. … One thing we’re doing is ordering four hand-controlled carts so people who are paralyzed or have a disability with their legs can use them. We can also do things with, say, autistic groups that might need a quieter environment.
We own the company. We can open a couple hours early on certain days and invite these groups in to experience racing.
Why did you choose El Paso County?
It came about through the developer, Gary Erickson. He was able to discount the land for us so it was easier to get a bank loan.
And that area is booming. It’s great being next to Bass Pro Shops and all that growth. Powers [Boulevard] will be expanded, there will be more commercial properties and a resort.
It’s the perfect storm of high-income residential and corporate and government business. A big part of our business plan is hosting corporate events and team building.
How many people will you employ?
We’ll start off with around 28 employees ranging from minimum wage to management.
All our management team has been hired and they’re currently interviewing for their teams.
What is your vision for the company?
We’ll franchise this. We already have franchise agreements in place, but we probably won’t sell our first one until six months after we open. But I believe in doing this right. It’s not about money. If this is going to grow and if we’re going to be different from everybody else, we have to make sure the processes are where they need to be before we copy it and put it somewhere else. We want to see Overdrive Raceway be the pinnacle of this type of entertainment.