Karting History: 1957-1958

This is Don Boberick's account of karting's early days 1957-1958.

I became involved in karting early on, when it was still Art Ingels, Duffy Livingstone and a few individuals doing some impromptu racing and gymkana type of events in a parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Roy Desbrow, a business partner of Duffy Livingstone, had constructed a kart that was called the "Drone". It was so named because it was powered by a 250cc engine originally used in a U.S. Army radio controlled drone airplane. I acquired that kart and joined the competition at the Rose Bowl.

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Don driving the "Drone" at the Rose Bowl parking lot 1957.

{Ed Note: This site has carried the following picture of the Rose Bowl karters for some time. Don comments on the photo}

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"The photo you have on the web site of the Rose Bowl gathering is indeed an early picture in the history of karting. I can recognize only a few things in that gathering. The kart that is closest to the camera is GP Muffler (later Go Kart Mfg.) chassis and not an Ingels-Borelli design. Two of the later can be seen at left center. The individual kneeling right behind foremost kart is Spencer Murray, a writer with Hot Rod magazine. Spence was active in early karting but not a constant competitor. I think I also recognize the kart immediately behind the foremost kart as the "drone" because of the view of the dropped front axle. That is the kart that Spence Murray appears, by his position, to have been examining the engine area--which was unique. I do not see any of the other central figures of early karting in the picture."

I had some background in sports car racing as did Duffy Livingstone and Marvin Patchen (an advertising manager with Peterson Publishing, Co.). We saw karting as a new avenue for organized motoracing at an inexpensive level. I also knew how to put a formal organization together and how to write technical regulations that could govern the kind of vehicles that would comprise the competition. So twelve of us agreed to form an organization patterned after the Sports Car Club of America; which I then incorporated as a California non profit corporation under name Go Kart Club of America.  Dick Van der Veer was its first President.

We then went looking for a place to set up a road racing circuit where we could enjoy our new sport and promote its growth. The venue we secured was the huge parking lot of the May Company Shopping Center in Covina, California, which came equipped with palm trees and abundant curbing. The following photo is the "Drone"piloted by Marlene Duffy at the May Company parking lot in 1958. The kart immediately behind Marlene is Duffy Livingstone, followed by Marvin Patchen;both on what came to be GoKart 400 models.

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