When Were Go-Karts Invented? Celebrating The Birth And History Of A Legendary Legacy

When Were Go-Karts Invented?

Do you have any idea when were go-karts invented? If not, you are missing out on a very important piece of historical information.

The go-kart was first invented in California in August 1956 and most historians give credit to Art Ingels for being the first man to do so. Ingels built a small vehicle with a motor using a modified chassis and an extra West Bend engine and used it to drive around a parking lot.

This article will shed light on the birth of go-karts ago-karts evolution throughout the years. Continue reading to get detailed information on the history of go-karts!

Art Ingels And The Birth History Of Go-Karts

  • Motorsport scene in the mid-20th century

The motorsport scene in the mid-1950s was blooming in America. People were more open to the idea of the best cars racing one another.

Motorsport was first introduced to America by racing enthusiasts as a hobby, but it gradually grew into a full-time sport. The 1930s was when motorcar racing first entered America, and by the 1950s, it became a national sport.

The growth of car racing induced promoters around America to build racing facilities in different parts of the country. This attracted tons of racing fans from all across the country to participate in racing events held in those racing strips.

The popularity of car racing in the 1950s was so high that racing fans came to racing events with their fast cars. They would build the racing cars themselves at home and participate in racing events using those fast cars.

  • Art Ingels

The most popular figure in the history of go-karting in America is credited to one man, Art Ingels. He is perhaps the person who made it possible for Americans to enjoy what is now one of the most popular motorsports in the country.

Art Ingels was employed as a fabricator for Kurtis Kraft during his early career in the automobile industry. The company was known for its contribution to the racing industry, helping build a host of racing cars that went on to win multiple racing championships.

  • First Go-Kart
Picture of the first ever go-kart created in Los Angeles by Art Ingels in 1956.

Art Ingels was the first person to invent a go-kart in America, using spare parts of different motorcars. The inspiration for inventing the first go-kart came from dealing with different racing cars during his time as a fabricator at Kurtis Kraft. The company was where he started to have an interest in fast cars.

Ingels built the first go-kart in 1956 when he was in Southern California. The original purpose of inventing the go-kart was to use it for leisurely activities. Ingels intended the go-kart to be used in backyard racing for fun, as it was a small vehicle.

Ingels’ motivation for inventing the go-kart came from working on racing cars during his stint at Kurtis Kraft. He wanted to build a lightweight racing car that people could drive for fun in their backyards. He used steel tubing to create the go-kart’s chassis and a West Bend engine to power it.

The invention of the go-kart by Art Ingels was a significant point in American history, as it gave rise to the sport of go-karting in the country. Many people saw the go-kart during its debut race, and it led to others building their own versions.

Key Innovators And Their Contributions

Go-karting is a popular motorsport that can be attributed to many factors, but we will talk about the most important people to have contributed to its growth and the karting boom.

  1. Art Ingels
Art Ingels

Art Ingels is the person behind the invention of the go-kart in Southern California. He had a passion for fast motorcars and wanted to build a lightweight vehicle that people could drive around a parking lot.

He was working as a mechanic for Kurtis Kraft, and that is where he got the idea to assemble a small vehicle using car parts from different vehicles. Ingels designed the chassis of the first go-kart using steel tubing and powered it using an extra engine from West Bend.

Ingels debuted the first go-kart in the Pomona Raceway, and it caught many people’s attention. He tested the kart multiple times, making necessary adjustments to the engine, before introducing it to the public.

  1. Duffy Livingstone
Duffy Livingstone with the Eliminator

Duffy Livingstone is perhaps the person who took go-karting to the next level after Art Ingels. Livingstone was one of the spectators present at the Pomona Raceway when Ingels introduced the first go-kart to the public.

Livingstone was blown away by the new lightweight vehicle and wanted to be a part of the journey. He reached out to Ingels after the go-kart’s debut and took permission from the inventor to start his line of go-karts. He built go-karts and developed go-karting kits for enthusiasts who wanted to create their own go-karts.

He played a huge role in developing the sport in America, as he became the co-founder of the Go Kart Manufacturing Co. in 1957. The company focused on building new go-karts for commercial sales and developing kits for people who were interested in building one themselves. Later on, Duffy’s business partner also started his own go-karting company, giving rise to the popularity of go-karts in America.

  1. The Karting Boom

Go-karting was mostly a leisurely activity carried out in parking lots around the country, but it grew into motorsport in the lin1950s. People became more interested in karting and it soon became a competitive sport when enthusiasts organized racing events.

Timeline of Early Go Karting:

1956Art Ingels built the first go-kart.
1957Duffy Livingstone co-founded the Go Kart Manufacturing Co.
Late 1950sGo-karting has gained popularity as a recreational activity.
Early 1960sCompetitive go-kart racing events emerge.

The Evolution Of Go-Karts: From Prototypes To Pioneers

  • The early go-karts were powered using lawnmower engines with skeleton frames.
  • The first kart event was held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The participants were amateur go-karting enthusiasts who wanted to compete against each other.
  • The people racing in public parking lots became a nuisance for the police, leading to the formation of go-kart clubs and associations. Two of the leading associations were the American Kart Manufacturer’s Association and the Go Kart Club of America.

The First Commercially Successful Go-Karts:

The first commercially successful go-karts were Margay Racing’s Dart Kart and the Rupp Monza Jr. These two karts were affordable for the common people, adding to the growth of the sport.

Also Read: Learn Everything You Need To Know About Karting
  1. Margay Racing’s Dart Kart: This go-kart became an instant hit among karting enthusiasts. Released to the public in 1960, it is said to be one of the earliest successful commercial go-karts.
  2. Rupp Monza Jr.: The Rupp Monza Jr. was another go-kart that grew in popularity among karting enthusiasts because of its powerful engine and sleek design.

Timeline of Go Kart Evolution:

Early 1960sIntroduction of commercially successful go-karts.
1960Margay Racing introduces the Dart Kart.
1962Rupp launched the Monza Jr., setting new standards in design.

Post-War America And Karting Boom

  • The history of karting in the USA is significant to its people. Go-karts were used by pilots and soldiers for racing after World War 2 in America as a leisure time activity.
  • Karting was initially taken up as a hobby by enthusiasts, but it gradually grew into a competitive sport in the early 1960s.
  • The period between 1950 and 1960 was important for the growth of go-karting as a major motorsport in America. The role of advertisements and media exposure by karting companies, clubs, and associations played an important role in elevating the sport to new heights.
  • Some go-karting manufacturing companies emerged during the 50s-60s, like the Go Kart Manufacturing Co., Ingels & Borelli Kart Company, etc.

Notable Events and Figures:

  • The Go Kart Club of America was founded in 1957 and later came to be known as the International Karting Federation.
  • Another key figure during this era was Bill Simpson, a pioneer in developing motorsport safety mechanisms.

Timeline of Karting’s Rise in Post-War America:

1950s-1960sGo-karting gained immense popularity in the United States.
1957Formation of the Go Kart Club of America (GKCA).
1957The International Kart Federation (IKF) was established.

Racing Forward With Technology

If you know when were go-karts invented, you will know that there were a lot of go-kart technology advancements and karting innovations from the 1960s. With the emergence of new manufacturing companies, the kart designs became more intricate, and people started using motorcycle engines to power their karts.

The changes in the chassis, engines, and safety features from the 1970s-1990s in go-karts took the sport to another level, becoming a major motorsport in America.

Timeline of Technological Advancements:

1970s-1980sAdvancements in lightweight chassis and engines.
1990sAdoption of full-face helmets and safety barriers.

Karting Beyond Borders

Karting as a sport has come a long way since its inception in the mid-1950s. It is now spread all across America, Europe, Asia, etc. The development of karting in other countries is marked by major go-karting events in different parts of the world.

Some of the major go-karting events and championships are the Rotax Max Challenge, CIK-FIA World Karting Championships, etc.

Major Karting Events Worldwide:

  • The Rotax Max Challenge is a major karting event where more than 60 countries participate to be crowned champions.
  • The top-tier karting event globally is the CIK-FIA World Karting Championship, where the best drivers in the world compete against one another.

Timeline of Global Karting Expansion:

1960s-1970sKarting spreads to Europe and Asia.
1964The CIK-FIA World Karting Championship is established.

Conclusion On Uncovering The Karting Origin Story

The history of go-karting is significant in American motorsport culture. It all started with the invention of the first go-kart by Art Ingels and has now spread all across the globe as a major motorsport.

If you haven’t gone karting yet, we suggest you give it a try. It is a fun activity you can participate in with your friends and families.



Meet Charles, a passionate writer and avid go-kart enthusiast. With a background in motorsports, Charles brings a unique perspective to the world of go-karting and motorsports. When Charles is not behind the wheel, you can find him crafting compelling stories and informative articles on the latest trends and technology on the PK's Go-Karts blog here.