Entrepreneur Ivan Baran Begins Go Karting Business Near Soderica Lake

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Sergej Novosel Vuckovic writes on the 16th of October, 2020, after six years, Koprivnica entrepreneur Ivan Baran, former multiple state champion in go karting, winner of the Croatian and Slovenian Cup, Croatian automotive champion in the Fabia Cup, and fourth in the Clio Cup Alpe Adria, has reached the finish line – in business, that is.

Ivan Baran from Koprivnica successfully started a new business phase. Last Saturday, Ivan Baran (37) opened the Box707 karting track next to Lake Soderica in the Drnje municipality, near Koprivnica, where he offers adrenaline-pumping rides not only to those who decide to drive, but also to spectators.

Ivan Baran started go-karting at the age of five, he was introduced to it by his father Darko, who drove in races in the 80’s and at the end of that decade he rented go-karts in Koprivnica until the beginning of the war. Baran explained that this is otherwise actually quite a popular sport in Koprivnica, despite the fact that most wouldn’t expect it to be. The Koprivnica Karting Club has been operating since back in 1964, and at one time there was a production for that in the city (Pepi kart, Josip Dolenec).

”I started racing in 1992 and it wasn’t an issue for me for years, except in 2002, when it was the most demanding because I was driving go-karts and cars at the same time,” Ivan Baran explained a few days after the opening ceremony of the 602 metre long, six metre  wide go karting track.

Equally demanding, if not more, than the races themselves, Ivan Baran had to prepare the project of the track. It was necessary to buy or rent land, arrange the infrastructure, pave it…

“Apart from time, this was primarily a very demanding financial project. I started by buying land on which corn grew, so literally every inch of space needed to be arranged and prepared. It’s difficult to single out what the biggest challenge actually was, the whole process was very complex, and we did most of the work ourselves, so each little bit of it was challenging,” recalled the Podravina entrepreneur. Local authorities, however, certainly welcomed the project.

“The cooperation is good, I’m satisfied and especially grateful to the mayor of Drnje, Petar Dombaj, for his support,” noted Baran.

This otherwise graduated electrician, husband of Ivona and father of Nora and Filip, who after graduating from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Osijek got a job at HEP, of which he was a scholarship holder, also has his own company, Kart Group. On the way to realising his go karting dream, he had to drive stages in proper accordance with Croatian regulations.

“For me, as for most of those who start a business, bureaucracy was a big challenge, I waited three years to change the spatial plan, the whole system is quite slow, the fees are high, projects require large funds and then the additional burden is to pay for each of the papers you need,” he explained. The coronavirus pandemic didn’t hinder its implementation this spring, he says, as they did most of the work themselves during lockdown.

Ivan Baran’s former colleagues and rivals from previous races have seen the Box707 come to life, and he says they’re thrilled.

The track’s repertoire includes go-kart rental, the rental vehicles can reach speeds of up to 60 km/h, and the rides are for everyone from children aged eight onwards… But that’s far from being the only offer.

“There’s a catering facility along the trail, as well as a go karting equipment store. In addition to renting go-karts and tracks, we can also organise team building, birthdays and go karting schools. We definitely plan to organise competitions in various disciplines several times a year,” Ivan Baran revealed.

Although, according to his information, in Croatia there are open-air tracks in Belica in Medjimurje, Virovitica, Novi Marof, Pula, Porec, Smrika in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, as well as in Vrsi near Zadar, and those indoors in the Arena Centre in Zagreb, Osijek and Split, this Drnje go karting track has good conditions to become a tourist attraction, for socialising, private or business ventures, as well as for domestic and foreign visitors.

“Lake Soderica is very popular in this part of the country, and considering the investments, there are ways in which to develop into a very attractive tourist place. The trail is located in a very attractive location just before the lake, and its great advantage is the proximity of the border with Hungary,” concluded the successful go karting entrepreneur.

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