The North Island Go Kart Association Inc.

Jack ElveyThe report below was written by Mr Jack Elvey from Hamilton, New Zealand, in July 1961 and is reproduced here in it’s entirety and in original form. The original document is held by KartSport New Zealand. 

In 1961 Mr Elvey held the position of Official Historian to the North Island Go Kart Association as well as being an executive member of both the North Island Go Kart Association and the New Zealand Amateur Go Kart Association. 

This report details the formation of the New Zealand Amateur Go Kart Association, the North Island Go Kart Association and the South Island Go Kart Association as well as the first New Zealand Championships and first North Island Championships.

As at June 2003, this is the oldest known official document in the possession of KartSport New Zealand, detailing the history of the sport in New Zealand.

A Short History of GO KARTING and the events leading up to the formation of the North Island Go Kart Association Incorporated – N. I. G. K. A.

The history of the N.Z. Go Karting sport and the N.I.G.K.A. although extremely short, measured in time, is, like all other world wise Go Kart development in general, a record of amazing, indeed fantastic progress. So fantastic in fact that in order to appreciate more fully what has happened and is now happening, it is desirable that we consider the History of Karting as a whole and then fit into the picture the history of our own N.I.G.K.A.

Unless we do this we cannot appreciate to the full just what a fantastic world wide impact Go Karting has made for itself in the much broader field of Modern Motor Sports.

So we start with these basic questions; How, when and why did Go Karting start. To keep this History down to a reasonable size I shall have to condense the story and give my references for the various points covered by this, all too brief, resumé. Firstly, from “Lets Go Karting” -

In 1956 a string of events caused thousands of surplus West Bend 2 cycle powerplants to appear and it was only natural that someone would adapt one of the tiny but powerful 2 1/2 h.p. engines to a miniature car.

The man who made the first recorded adaptation was Art Ingels, a well known hot rodder from way back and an employee of the famed Kurtis Craft plant in Glendale, California, U.S.A., who had a hand in all the Indianapolis cars that were built from 1951 - 1958. Towards the end of 1956, Art picked up one of the little engines and devised a rugged tubular chassis which was the utmost •in simplicity yet strong enough to withstand the strain that his 210 pounds put on it.- - - Wherever Art drove his little car he found himself being watched by an army of onlookers and began spending most of his time staving off such queries as “Where’d you get that?’, “How much are they?”, and “Please, can I try it?”

The hangers-on kept watching as Art put his car through its paces, and the queries continued. With so much interest in his sole machine, Art felt sure that commercially built cars of similar design would sell, at least in and around Southern California. Arts boss, Frank Kurtis was not interested but a Southern California surplus dealer, Bill Rowles saw the car, as yet unnamed in mid 1957 realized the potential of the tiny racer and tried to interest first Art in its sales possibilities, then other friends, hot rodders and builders of the already popular quarter midget.

Bill Rowles then met Duffy Livingstone and Roy Desbrow, who between them built their own version of Art Ingels car. A careful count of the cars then in existence showed that some 30 existed when the magazine “Rod and Custom” got wind of them and turned up with a camera in tow. Staffers treated to a ride, were quick to get the story into print. (November 1957). Casting about for a general term for the little powered roller skates, “Rod and Custom” elected to call the creations GO KARTS; A name originally coined by the maker of a gaslight era baby buggie. Pram, to us.

The story broke and that did it ! Livingstone, Rowles and Desbrow could see that the term GO KART would stick with any cars of this type, promptly organised the Go Kart Manufacturing Company., and wisely began offering do-it-yourself kits.

The Go Kart Manufacturing Company registered the name, GO KART as a Registered Trademark and they have never approved of the term “go kart” being used as a general title for any car of the type. (KARTING HAND BOOK - TREND BOOK 195). Other manufacturers, awake to the tremendous interest and market potentialities, started in to market their own versions. Unfortunately, many kart builders took little heed of basic safety requirements.

So in December of 1957, the GO KART CLUB of AMERICA was formed. G.K.C.A. formulated rules and regulations and with the publicity given to these rules and the dimensions, etc., of the new Karts a new chapter in the history of Karts was commenced. It is this far seeing group that the sports safety record can be credited (“LETS GO KARTING”). Today the sport continues to grow at an ever-accelerating rate. There is hardly a country left on earth without a Kart club. Karting has not had to sell itself, it has been accepted, seized at first sight. It BELONGS in today’s world and once you’ve cut a few hot laps on a “going” kart, you know why. (BORGESONS’S KARTING HAND BOOK). Remember, the sport will not be 4 years old until November 1961. Fantastic? Surely. Amazing!

The  New Zealand Scene.

The first recorded article on the new American sport of Go Karting appearing in a N.Z. newspaper was an article entitled, “Who’ll Go Karting”, which appeared in the “Auckland Star” of June 15th 1959. This article really started something. Two weeks later, the “Auckland Star”, June 29th 1959, published a follow up article, giving a very much fuller description of the Karts, the engine sizes, a description of the Azusa track, etc., etc.

The article also announced the formation of N.Z’s first Go Kart Club. The Auckland Mini Kart Club with 25 members and 5 Karts under construction. The first President was Mr B.C. Boyle and the Secretary was Mr. W.D. Henderson. From this announcement onwards clubs were formed all over the Auckland Province, using the Auckland clubs Kart plans and regulations. I joined the Auckland club on July 12th 1959 and was given the job of helping along the Waikato area. The position in N.Z. as at September 1959 was almost the same as was the position in America as at December 1957 when the G.K.C.A. was formed. The sport was growing at such a stupendous rate that often the safety factor was totally ignored. It became apparent then that a central body to control the new sport was an urgent necessity.

Full credit must be given to the Pukekohe Go Kart club (formed 4th August 1959) for calling a General Meeting at Pukekche on 19th September 1959 and inviting two delegates from each of the known clubs then in existence.

The N.Z. Herald in their issue of the 16th September 1959 published an article on Go Karting with particular reference to this meeting to be held at Pukekohe. The Herald concluded its article with this paragraph: FUTURE: There an interesting sidelight to Go Karting. At present it is what 500 cc racing was a few years ago - the cheapest kind of racing open to ordinary types with little cash. The quickest way for it to die will be to allow money and mere bigness to take over from driving skill and enthusiasm. Already there is a tendency that way, with big costly engines taking the place of small cheap motors. THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT MIGHT WELL BE THE HANDS OF THE PUKEKOHE MEETING.

The meeting was a tremendous success and the first N.Z. body to direct and control Go Karting was in business. As a matter of Historical record here are the names of the first publicly elected officers of the New Zealand Amateur Go Kart Association:

President: D.C. McAllansmith(Pukekohe)
Vice-President:F. Stevens(Auckland)
Sec.-Treasurer:P. Greenhalgh(Auckland)
Committee:J.L. Elvey(Hamilton)
D. Sinton (Auckland)
J. Gair(Whangarei)
P. Cantwell(Tauranga)
A.Hogan (Papakura)
C. Dahlin (Auckland)

Specifications and Rules were adopted and the sport was in good hands. Right from the start of Go Karting in N.Z. it was emphasised by all concerned that this brand new sport should be controlled by the Karters themselves not by some other Motor Sports body. It must be realised of course that by this time, Go Karting had really ‘caught on’ in N.Z., its progress over the length and breadth of N.Z. could only be likened to the progress of a raging bushfire. Although I write this History primarily as a record of the establishment and progress of N.Z. Go Karting controlling bodies with particular reference to our N.I.G.K.A., it is still pertinent to refer to some outstanding factors that helped in the establisment and consolidation of our sport in its early days.

One very important factor which had an overwhelming influence on subsequent events in the sport was the magnificent effort put up by Mr Don Sinton of the Sinton Engineering Co., and new secretary of the Auckland Go Kart Club, Mr Jack Stevens President of the Auckland Club and son John Stevens, when they drove a Go Kart from Auckland to Wellington, before going on down through the South Island.

This drive focussed attention on to our sport and everywhere the drivers and machine stopped (they drove only in daylight on a restricted ‘Daylight only’ Warrant of Fitness) they were received with tremendous enthusiasm and goodwill.

These gentlemen were given a free hand as Ambassadors for the N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association, and they actually gave away thousands of the N.Z.A. Go Kart Association leaflets everywhere they stopped.

At a subsequent meeting of the N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association held at Mangere, Mr Sinton reported that he had been approached in Christchurch by a band of enthusiasts and club members who wished to form a South Island Go Kart Association with the approval of the N.Z. Go Kart Association. Members of the N.Z.A.G.K.A. present confirmed Mr Sinton’s action in giving the Go Ahead signal. A report stating that the South Island Go Kart Association had been formed very early in 1960 with the approval of the N.Z.A.G.K.A. appears in the Christchurch Star Sports edition of May 14, 1960. The S.I.G.K.A. adopted without alteration the N.Z.A.G.K.A. specifications, but went further and drew up a set of competition regulations. The S.I.G.K.A. then had the machine specifications and competition regulations printed as the “1960 Regulations for General Competition” The S.I.G.K.A. were extremely lucky in having in their ranks a well known and very able barrister and solicitor, Mr. B.H. Paton, and who was as well a very active member in the Car Clubs and had been on the committee of the A.N.Z.C.C.

The South Island Car Clubs were having trouble with the A.N.Z.C.C. over differences of opinion in the control of the sport; so the S.I. Go Kart Clubs very many of which were associated with Car Clubs decided to stay away from A.N.Z.C.C. control.

To get back to the North Island.

The N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association had run into opposition by the A.N.Z.C.C. over the control of Go Karting in New Zealand. The A.N.Z.C.C. maintained that they had the sole authority from the R.A.C. England to organise and control Go Karting in N.Z. We in the North, were feeling our way, somewhat held back by (a) the immensity of the growth of the sport, (b) lack of finance, (c) the attitude of the A.N.Z.C.C.

The Agenda for the Committee Meeting of the N.Z.A.G.K.A. called for March 19th 1960, reads:-

a/. Proposals from the A.N.Z.C.C.
b/. Championship meetings.
c/. General.
Signed P. Greenhalgh, Secretary.
Regarding a/. We decided to stay away from the A.N.Z.C.C.

Regarding b/. Two members were present from the New Plymouth Go Kart Club seeking permission from the N.Z.A.G.K.A. to change the status of their 2 day Go Kart Championship meeting from the Taranaki Championships to the New Zealand Championships.

The N.Z.A.G.K.A. agreed to this:- provided that all Go Karts must comply with the N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association’s specifications, and the events to be run under the N.P. Clubs competition Rules. The New Plymouth club agreed to this, see the N.P. Circular dated 26th March, 1960.

At this point it must be again emphasised that the sport was really alive, really sizzling in fact so much so that it was really urgent to re-organise the N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association to unify and consolidate all the new clubs already formed, and forming, into a body more representative of the sport as a whole particularly the North Island, seeing that a South Island body had already been formed.

So it was that advantage was taken of the fact that most North Island Go Kart clubs would be represented at New Plymouth during the Easter Weekend of 1960. It is at this point that the North Island Go Kart Association was established and took over the control of North Island Go Karting from the N.Z. Amateur Go Kart Association (Easter 1960). Those delegates who were present will remember that we sat through from 1 p.m. on Good Friday until 4 a.m., yes 4 a.m., on the Saturday, one break away from the hall for tea and a couple of “Cuppa” breaks in the hail. Very many thanks to the New Plymouth officials and the Ladies Committee. There were many highlights to remember at this meeting. For instance, who will forget the patience shown by Mrs Shuker from the Napier Club in waiting until 2 a.m. to promote, and very successfully too, the introduction of safety bars to all Go Karts to prevent any Kart from running onto the rear wheels of a Kart in front with a subsequent “flip over” in the air. These bars are better known now as SHUKER BARS. It was ironical, but true, that Mr Bill Shuker (with bars fitted) ran into and “flipped over” at the meeting. The only one to flip over at New Plymouth. Members will recall that at this meeting it was decided that the sport should be organized on District lines and that future delegates to the N.I.G.K.A. come up through the District committee level.

Wellington District was the only body constituted along these lines represented this way at New Plymouth. Again for the record the Officers elected to the N.I.G.K.A. at New Plymouth, Easter 1960, were:- President Mr P. Richards, (Tauranga), 1st Vic-President Mr A. Laurent (Morrinsville), 2nd Vice-President Mr N. Dabb (Tokoroa), Chief Steward Mr P. Regan (Rotorua), Gen. Secretary Mr B. Marshall (Tauranga), Auditors Messrs Hoare & Ladkin (Tauranga), Committee: W. Shuker (Napier), W. Morris (Tokoroa), C. Head (Morrinsville), C. Thomas (Hastings), J. Downs (Pukekohe and J. Elvey (Hamilton). Wellington District abstained over the question of the length of wheelbase but joined later as the record will show.

The first Committee meeting of the N.I.G.K.A. was held in Tauranga on the 11/12 June, 1960 - Refer Newsletter No. 3

At this meeting 3 new delegates were elected to the committee. They were:- Mr T.C. McDowell (Wellington), Mr A.T. Lea (Taranaki), and Mr D.K. Curtis (Poverty Bay-East Coast).

Once again, further excellent progress was made and it could truly be said that the sport was really on a sound and lasting basis able to withstand anything that may crop up, in any way detrimental to the sport, in the future.

In July 1960, it was felt that the District Scheme of control should be put into operation immediately, rather than wait for the next Annual Meeting in 1961.

This meeting was duly convened and was held at Taupo on 20/21 August 1960, when new officers were elected on the Provincial representation basis. For the record, the following Officers were elected:-

President Mr P. Richards, Vice-President Mr N. Dabb, Vice-President Mr B. Gibb, Sec./Treasurer Mr B. Marshall, Chief Steward Mr P. Regan, Auditor Mr P. Hoare, A.P.A.N.Z., Executive: Mr John Callender, Taranaki; Mr Jock Rovard, Wellington; Mr Colin McDowell, Wellington; Mr Olive Berry, Taranaki; Mr Bill Shuker, Hawkes Bay; Mr Ray Lowe, Hawkes Bay; Mr Noel Dabb, South Auckland; Mr Bruce Gibb, South Auckland; Mr Maurice Turner, Auckland; Mr Jim Downs, Auckland; Mr Jack Elvey of Hamilton, Official Historian.

So much for the establishment of the sport on a sound and permanent basis, but we mustn’t let up. The proposed Motor Sports Bill has not been dropped, nor has the A.N.Z.C.C. lost interest in N.Z. Go Karting. It is up to each and everyone of us to help in any way that we can, financially or otherwise, to safeguard our interests in our young, but very worthwhile sport and to resist any attempts to take over or dampen down the control of Go Karting.

RACING - The N.I.G.K.A. staged its first annual North Island Championships at Tauranga on Saturday December 31st 1960 and Monday January 2nd 1961.

At this time of the year, Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui is “flat out” with just about everything in the sporting world, so it was not surprising that the public attendance over the 2 days was a little below expectations.

The meeting was very well conducted, safety rules were rigidly observed and the racing was close and good. Everybody went away happy and very well pleased with everything. A tremendous amount of work goes into the organisation and the smooth running of a meeting such as this, and all of the Championship Officials should be highly congratulated.

By the way, the Championship Officials - see programme, were:-

Meeting Controller - Mr Ray Richards; Judges, Mr Carl Head, Mr Noel Dabb, Mr Chas Bax, Mr Hugh Mc Koazie; Chief Steward, Mr Pat Regan; Chief Scrutineer, Mr Johny Callender; Pit Stewards, Mr Colin Raynor, Mr Con Conning; Secretary, Mr Jack Earle; Assistant Secretary, Miss E. Phillips; Pit Announcer, Mr Bruce Marshall; Spectator Announcer, Mr Barry Merrick; Starter, Mr Vic Laurent.

Results:- as per “Bay of Plenty Times” January 3rd, 1961.

Class A - 10 laps 1stP. Mexted (Mana) Time 5 mins. 6.6 secs 
 2nd B. Simpson (Hamilton)  
 3rdG. Cantwell (Tauranga Amateur)  


Class B - 10 laps 1stT. G. Petherwick (Tokoroa)
Time 5 mins 18.4 secs
 2nd B. Mathews (New Plymouth)
 
 3rdD. Sinton (Auckland)
 


Class C - 10 laps 1stA Levy (Mana)
Time 5 mins 22.5 secs 
 2nd M Collins (Ngaruawahia)
 
 3rdJ Parlour (Franklin)
 


Class D - 10 laps 1stE. Hovard (North Wairoa)
Time 4 mins. 56.4 secs.
 2nd T. Teir (North Wairoa)
 
 3rdL. Volkner (Auckland)
 


Open  - 12 laps   1stL. Volkner (Auckland)
Time 6 mins. 7 secs 
 2nd J. Parlour (Franklin) 
 3rdP. Triplow (Mana)
 

Venue for the 1961-1962 N.I.G.K.A. Championships to be decided at this 2nd annual Meeting of the N.I.G.K.A.

Clubs affiliated to the N.I.G.K.A.are:- Auckland, Bay of Plenty, East Coast Bays, Far North, Foxton , Frankin, Gisborne, Hamilton, Huntly, Hastings, Hawera, Helensville, Kawerau, Levin, Mana, Murapara, Masterton, Mangakino, Matamata, Morrinsville, Manawatu, Northern Wairoa, North Shore, Northland Minicart, Ngaruawahi , Napier, New Plymouth, Opotiki, Otaki, Pahiatua, Paraparaumu, Rotorua, Silverdale and Districts, Taupo, Taihape, Te Aroha, Thames, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti, Tauranga Amateur, Waitara, Waihi, Whakatane, Waipa, Wanganui, and Wellington = Total 46 as at July 1961.

From one Club in June 1959 to 46 Clubs in July 1961 – just over 2 years, an amazing tribute to the sport itself and doubly so to all those far sighted gentlemen and ladies who have helped in so many different ways to help build the solid foundations that will carry us through to lift the status of our sport and gain the respect of the sporting public. We are exceedingly fortunate in that we have one of the best team of executive officers in the country controlling our sport.

Jack Elvey,
141 Killarney Road,
HAMILTON.
 
Official Historian to N.I.G.K.A.

 
KartSport New Zealand