Let’s say you’re planning a family outing and hubby wants to go bowling but the idea doesn’t fly with the progeny — who’d rather do something different, say, tool around on a fast track in a go-kart. Don’t despair, though: at the recently opened Strike, an entertainment center located in New Hyde Park, you can have your cake and eat it, too. Literally. A mammoth subterranean facility (60,000 square feet) near the Queens/Long Island border, on Union Turnpike, Strike offers not only fluorescent bowling but a nifty go-kart track, as well as room for parties (that’s where the cake comes in). But wait. An indoor racing track? Isn’t that unbelievably loud and horribly pungent? Strangely enough, it isn’t, as was proved during a recent visit with four 18-year-olds, during a college hiatus. Granted, Strike is by no means a tranquil, restive spot. Where’s the fun in that? But it is a perfect place for kids to let off steam, use their outside voices and have a blast knocking down lime-green Day-Glo orange-and-pink bowling pins with matching bowling balls. When that becomes old, kids can get their kicks driving a real go-kart, with mom or dad right next to them — a win-win situation for all The twisting, 700-foot-long Formula One-style track has enough elbow room for 30 cars (eight cars accommodate two persons each), and the maximum speed of 30 mph is controlled by careful attendants, so there’s no fear of any out-of-control mayhem. The electric karts are environment-friendly, producing no emissions or engine noise. A private VIP room above a corner of the track enables onlookers to cheer on their favorite racers. In the planning stages is computer-run and tallied racing, set up for friendly competition. When that’s in place, according to Jeanna Walters, marketing manager, each participant will get a printout of speed and lap times. Each race lasts about four-and-a-half minutes, and no bumping is allowed. Kids must be at least 54 inches and 10 years old to operate the karts, and are instructed on gas and brake-pedal use prior to race time. (Personally, after driving on the LIE, the idea of getting on a racetrack seemed redundant, but for purposes of authenticating the experience, I gave it a go. Yes, it was fun, for the first two minutes. Maybe it’s a guy thing. It’s definitely a kid thing). “This place is very cool,” Ken Inoue, 18, a freshman at Farmingdale University, remarked after taking a few laps in his single-seater. “Usually for something like this you have to go to Disney or some theme park. This is a lot closer and all the neon lights made it more fun.” His pals all recommended it highly too, especially for younger kids. After checking out the track, Inoue and his buddies bowled a few games in the splashy, futuristic-like separate space. “It’s very ‘Twilight Zone’ with those lights,” Inoue said after bowling one of his many strikes. The home of Sterling Bowl for the past 42 years, the site still has 36 of the decades-old lanes (renovated, of course). Owner Tom Shannon, whose company invested about $10 million in renovations, knows how to run a family-friendly enterprise. After buying Bowlmor Lanes in Greenwich Village, he renovated a 50s-style retro bowling center in Maryland, and opened his first successful Strike there. Now, instead of the old wooden white pins, bowlers are treated to flashing lights, computer-operated scoring and giant television screens suspended from the ceiling. During the day, the facility is strictly family-oriented (after 7pm, it’s geared toward adults and corporate gatherings) and birthday parties are planned way in advance. The separate restaurant area is private, without being out of the loop of the fun, and the food is, hands-down, not your typical greasy bowling-alley food. Can you think of another bowling alley that features fresh, made-to-order sushi in addition to a menu that includes chocolate fondue, spicy chicken wings, tiny square burgers and the ubiquitous pizza? “The French fries are great,” remarked Dave Lawrence, 18, also a Farmingdale freshman. Hey, you work up an appetite racing around and nailing spares the hard way.
Info: Where: 1350 Union Turnpike, exit 34 off the LIE When: Saturday 11am-4am; Sunday 11am-1am (Weekdays are for older crowds, when doors open at 5pm) How much: Go-kart prices range from $7.95-$12.95 For more info: (516) 354-1222 or www.strikelongisland.com