The Early Development Of Karting


From his muffler shop in Los Angeles, Duffy Livingstone began manufacturing and selling the little cars. Livingstone, along with partners Bill Rowles and Roy Desbrow, had seen the great demand for the little cars. In almost no time, the mufflers were gone from the shop, and the three partners were spending all their time building more little cars.

All the while Livingstone and his partners were building, selling, and promoting their little cars, they were without a name to call them. Lynn Wineland, an advertising man who worked with Livingstone, provided one when he coined the term “Go Kart.” (“Zip Kart” and “Dart Kart” were names Wineland considered but rejected.)

The growing family of little-car drivers now had a name for their machines. All they needed was more room to race. Southern California’s parking lots had become congested with karts. There were even complaints that karting was a public menace.

To relieve the problem, Livingstone, Desbrow, Rowles, and Don Boberick built the first kart track. Its name was Go Kart Raceway. And the place chosen for it was Irwindale, California, just outside Los Angeles.

But even before people set aside specific public areas for karting, they wanted to control other safety and technical aspects of the sport. With so many karts around, enthusiasts needed a uniform set of official rules. In response to this need, the world’s first karting organization was formed in 1957.

Again, Livingstone played a key role. First called the Go Kart Club of America, the organization later became known as the International Kart Federation (IKF). Today it is the world’s largest governing body for the sport of karting.

The IKF grew very rapidly from the handful of organizers who formed the group in 1957. The list of members increased almost daily, until today the IKF has about 5,500 members, mostly in the United States and Canada.

The IKF’s main purpose is to promote safe and fun karting, In competitive karting, the organization determines the rules and regulations for kart equipment and race procedures. On November 21, 1957, the International Kart Federation published its first set of rules for competition. These rules have been constantly revised and updated since then. The IKF sanctions, or gives its approval to, only those races that comply with its established guidelines.

The IKF provides other services to its members as well. Always concerned with safety, the organization examines kart-track facilities each year and certifies those that meet its approval. The International Kart Federation also publishes a magazine called Karter News, which gives members the latest information about kart equipment, manufacturers, race schedules, rule changes, and meetings of the board of directors. The organization even offers its members an accident insurance program.

The success of any organization lies in maintaining open communication between its governing board and its members, and the IKF is no exception. Individual karters elect district representatives, called governors, and members of the national board of directors. This system of communication served all karters well until 1971, when a rift developed. A group of members became dissatisfied with the administration of the IKF and their safety policies. Finally they split away and formed the World Karting Association (WKA).

In order to compete in as many races as possible, many karters belong to both the WKA and the IKF. Usually dual membership does not lead to conflicting interests, for the main objective of the two organizations is the same — to promote safe and fun karting. Indeed, many karters feel that the differences between the World Karting Association and International Kart Federation are not great at all. These karters hope that one day the WKA and the IKF will come together and once again form one large karting body.

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