Go-karts, also known as go-carts or karts, are open-wheel cars that have long been a very popular way to spend free time.
From those propelled by gravity and suitable for children to try out their driving skills to Superkarts powerful enough to beat racing cars on long circuits, the world of karts has something to offer for everyone, from a timid youngster to an adrenaline fanatic. So how did all of that come to be? Let’s explore the origins and the development of the go-kart in order to fully understand its appeal and its potential.
The credit for the very first go-kart ever goes to the Americans, more specifically, to Art Ingels and Lou Borelli from California. For some reason, the two neighbours thought it would be fun to equip a chassis that was barely above the ground with a lawnmower’s engine. Together with a couple of their friends, Ingels and Borelli started organizing races for early enthusiasts. This peculiar idea escalated in popularity and the next thing you know, GoKart, the first ever go-kart production company was founded in 1957.
It’s fair to say that what followed was a go-kart fever. Tracks started springing up all over the USA, people spent a lot of money on pre-assembled karts as well as their parts and kits. However, the hype was over rather quickly because since there were no regulations of standards and innovations, kart production took many different directions and even the most devoted and the richest kart lovers were not able to effectively keep up with the changes. Also, since it was only a recreational sport, not that much money was being invested into it and many tracks started closing down. However, it was mostly only the US that experienced this decline. In Europe, on the other hand, karting was becoming increasingly popular throughout the ‘70s.
It was also during this period that the kart gained the technical qualities and the look it has today. Especially relevant was the change in engine placement; while previously it was located on the back, now it is placed on the side of the kart meaning more leg room for the driver. Another period of significance in the development of karts and karting was the ‘80s, as The World Karting Association and The International Kart Federation were founded at that time. This meant karting gained a more structured and systematic foundation and finally received its well-deserved place in the world of competitive sports. The oval asphalt racing circuit of varied lengths became the standard racing platform, street go-kart racing as well as sprint racing grew in popularity, making kart racing a well-rounded and complex sport.
Nowadays, it is not only a widely known way to spend a fun afternoon with family or friends or get a safe dose of adrenaline but also a point from which numerous world-renown champions of Formula One, most famously Michael Schumacher, begin their careers.