Man, if I could’ve had anything in the world when I was about nine years old, it would’ve been a go-kart with a 5hp Briggs & Stratton. I never got one, but these cool people did.
It’s one of those things that’s been lost to time, but it’s no exaggeration to say that karting was HUGE in the 1960s. It’s pretty wild to think about, since Art Ingels — a race car builder at Kurtis Kraft — didn’t put the first widely recognized go-kart together until 1956.
They became instantly popular, though, and companies sprang up all over the place to fill the need. Sears and Montgomery Ward sold go karts directly through their catalogs, and impromptu racetracks sprang up anywhere there was a half acre of asphalt and a dozen hay bales.
Over the years, a lot of famous people got interested in go-karts:
As if there isn’t anything cooler than Roy Orbison in a go-kart, he’s wearing a terrycloth shirt. That’s cool to the second power.
It’s a little tough to make out, but that’s Elvis Aaron Presley hauling ass down the driveway at Graceland circa 1965.
Not sure what kind of a go-kart Alfred Hitchcock is in here, but it’s super-cool with a high-back bucket seat and 10-inch wheels.
This guy wasn’t a celebrity unless you hung around dragstrips in the 1960s. His name was Captain Jack McClure, and this go-kart is powered by a Turbonique rocket engine.
It was good for somewhere around 154 miles an hour in the quarter mile. You can see footage of it in this YouTube video:
Is there anything cooler than Steve McQueen in a go-kart? Yeeeah, no.
Well, except maybe for Jim Rockford.
Silent film comic Buster Keaton got a little unruly with his go-kart, apparently.