The History of Go-Karting: The Evolution Over the Years

The History of Go-Karting: The Evolution Over the Years

The History of Go-Karting: The Evolution Over the Years



Go-karting is one of many fun hobbies that everyone can enjoy. It has come a long way since its inception. But many fans of the sport don't know the history of go-karting. How did it start, and who created this four-wheeled sport?


The global go-kart market had an estimated value of $104.8 million in 2020, with projected numbers reaching $154.3 million by 2030. The history of go-karting is a fascinating one. And it has evolved over the years to become the thrilling sport it is today.


This blog post will review the history of go-karting and how it has evolved over the years. So buckle up and join us on this journey through go-karting history.



The History of Go-Karting: The First Go-Kart



The father of go-karts is known as Art Ingels. Ingels worked as a fabricator for the famous racing company Kurtis Kraft. The prominent company built five winning Indy 500 cars. And they also produced many successful midget cars and sports cars.


In 1956 Los Angeles, Art Ingels and Lou Borelli re-built lawnmower engines and merged them with customized chassis. They used a West Bend 2-cycle 750 lawnmower engine and placed it onto a simple, tubular chassis rig.


Then, they placed four semi-pneumatic tires onto the contraption to complete the project. Unfortunately, the two inventors never gave this device a name. Still, across the go-kart industry, it's often referred to as Kart Number One and also The West Bend.


It had a measly two-horsepower with a lever-pulled braking system on the right side. But this small mini-machine became the genesis of the entire go-kart phenomenon.


Lynn Wineland, a former editor of Hot Rod Magazine, coined the classic "Go-Kart" phrase. Wineland was paid $2 per kart sold as payment for the Go-Kart name. He was then able to buy his own house shortly after with his earnings.



The Birth of Go-Karts



For Ingels, his new machine wasn't used for racing, it was something he used to get around. But it did start to attract interest in the Southern California area.


The model's debut public unveil occurred at the Pomona automobile races the same year. This public appearance caught the attention of three specific men.


These men saw potential in the oddly charming device. Their names were Bill Rowles, Roy Desbrow, and Duffy Livingstone.


They founded the Go-Kart Manufacturing Company a year after discovering Ingels' invention. They started to take the four-wheeled device mainstream, constructing the karts on a large scale.


Using cheap engines scavenged from a local, bankrupted lawn mower business, the three men had an endless supply to bring their dream into reality.


The men then went on to mass produce these quirky machines for $129 per go-kart kit. Roughly, this price equals about $1100 in today's economy.


Their endeavours with go-karts proved to be a new milestone for American Motorsports. They represented a new type of racing and a new way to have fun without spending large amounts of money on automobiles.


The success of Go-Kart Manufacturing continued to grow, and many companies copied its ideas. The original inventors of the first kart, Ingels and Borelli, started their own kart business shortly after. It was named the Ingels-Borelli Kart company.


They and Go-Kart Manufacturing started the American Kart Manufacturer's Association. The AKMA was created to help organize the industry of go-karts.



The Rise of Go-Kart Racing: The Racing Go-Kart



Duffy Livingstone and Roy Desbrow are often thought of as go-karting pioneers. After their endeavours with Go-Kart Manufacturing (GKM), they began to set up go-kart races at Rose Bowl car park in Pasadena. Ingels was also involved in these competitions.


These races led to another new company called GoKart, founded by Livingstone and Desbrow in 1957. The brand sold go-kart kits directly to the masses.


As a result of increasing popularity and races, tracks began appearing in every part of the United States during the 1960s. Go-Karts had officially gone national.


More and more people became interested in the sport of go-karting. And various go-kart kits started to emerge. With the influx of new racers, the demand for go-karts grew.


Those who wanted to race but couldn't build their own kits fueled even more success for GKM and Ingels' enterprise, the Ingels & Borelli Kart Company.


Ingels sold his version of the go-kart, dubbed the Caretta Kart. The Caretta kart is known as the forefather of enduro karts and paved the way for modern racing.


The spark in go-karting in the 1960s is also due to a writer named Spencer Murray. Murray wrote for Rod and Custom magazine and was a fan of the new go-karting trend.


He decided that he'd publish a special go-kart issue in 1958. The magazine was a hit and bolstered interest in go-kart racing on an international scale.



Modern-Day Evolution of Go-Karts



In 1970, go-karts were re-invented by Yamaha and Briggs and Stratton. Instead of placing the engine at the back of the kart, the manufacturers began fitting the engine on the side. This change enhanced the go-kart driving experience by providing drivers more leg room and comfort.


The new design revolutionized the go-kart industry for years. In the following decade (1980), the World Karting Association started standardizing the industry. During this decade, go-karting started to become a competitive sport.


Famous drivers from various leagues like NASCAR and Formula-1 learned many of their driving skills during their pre-teen years of racing as championship kart drivers. These racers include Jeff Gordon, Al Unser Jr., and Michael Andretti.


Today, go-karting is still a wildly popular pastime for people of all ages. It's one of the most accessible motorsports and doesn't require a significant investment.



Go-Karting Near You: Go-Karts Toronto and Go-Karts Mississauga



Go-karting has come a long way since its inception in the 1950s. It's now a popular sport that people of all ages can enjoy. The history of go-karting is fascinating, and it will continue evolving in the future.


If you're interested in trying go-karting, there are many race tracks across the country. At K1 Speed, we offer indoor go-karting in Mississauga and indoor go-karting in Toronto. Our indoor racing tracks provide endless amounts of fun for all occasions.


Book online with us today and reserve a spot for your next race.