Go karts originated in the United States during the 1950s, with most historians crediting Art Ingels as the originator of the modern go kart. Art Ingles built his first go kart in 1956 during a time when airmen raced go karts to pass time in a post world war era.
Whether they’re referred to as go karts, go carts, gokarts, shifter karts, or one of the many names that have been attributed to kart racers over the years, they all share the similar features of the open-wheeled racing vehicles found in formula one or the Indianapolis 500. Low, aerodynamic, with high power to weight ratios.
Over the years, the original racing go kart has been adapted into various forms, ranging from recreational models that run on electric motors, to off road 4 wheel drive go karts designed to handle all terrain conditions, to highly tuned racing machines that hit speeds of 100 MPH.
Go kart racing is often the starting point for young race car drivers that dream of racing in professional F-1 or Indy Car racing. It’s affordable, yet a talented driver on the go kart racing circuit can move up to the higher levels of motor vehicle racing.
But not everyone who races go karts is looking to turn pro. In fact, go kart racing in America has become associated with the fairgrounds, arcade parks, and recreational tracks where anyone can enjoy the thrill of kart racing, albeit at a much slower speeds. These recreational go kart tracks don’t offer the thrill of competitive go kart racing, but it can be great fun for young kids and families.
A Closer Look At Go Karts
All go karts consist of a chassis, motor, transmission, seat, and 4 tires. Go karts generally do not have a suspension and instead rely on chassis flex. Some go karts, especially off road versions, come with closed chasis that have rollbars to protect the driver in the event of a roll over.
Go karts come in both electric and gas powered models, though gas powered is preferred for competitive racing. Engines are typically 2 stroke or 4 stroke, with the 2 stroke being a more specialized type of engine made by companies like Honda or Briggs and Stratton. The 2 stroke is generally more powerful than the 4 stroke.
The speed capabilities of go karts vary greatly. While sprint karts usually go to about 60 miles per hour, karts used in endure racing reach top speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. Some shifter carts even reach top speeds of 160 miles per hour. Clearly, these are not the toys found at your local family go kart track.
Hopefully you’ve learned a little about the sport (yes, it is a sport) of go kart racing. If you’re interested in getting started, we’ve put together some information for anyone looking to get started in competitive go kart racing. You can learn more about getting started in go kart racing by clicking here