Tony Kart Go-Karts: History And Reviews

In the world of go-karting, there are certain brands that stand out among the many who contribute to the industry at large. Among that number of manufacturers is the prestigious Tony Kart, starting from humble beginnings in an Italian man’s workshop and growing into a worldwide phenomenon.

Their karts have taken the globe by storm with numerous karting championship wins and record-breaking chassis year in and year out.

As somebody who’s owned one of their karts, I’m going to look at Tony Kart’s many triumphs and notable points that have made them so great over the years. That kind of pedigree can’t be ignored!

Humble Beginnings

The iconic Tony Kart name isn’t just a cool and easily-remembered little tagline by any means. It all started back in 1958 when Antonio “Tony” Bosio saw pictures of makeshift ‘go-karts’ from the United States and tried to recreate them for himself in the tiny Italian town of Prevalle.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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His nickname eventually became the branding and company name for these hand-crafted karts! It’s what happens when everybody in your town starts to know you as ‘Tony Kart’, after all.

Antonio was far from highly educated, opting to keep his elementary school diploma and simply work on the farms around his town, but he had a great knack for inventing helpful things. Part of why he was so confident about his abilities to make a go-kart from nothing but a photograph was because he previously fashioned an emergency repair vehicle to aid broken-down tractors.

When you can slap together a vehicle out of nothing but spare parts and four Vespa wheels, a go-kart seems pretty easy to envisage, right?

After he made his very first kart, Tony converted his three-story shop where he sold spare parts for farm machinery into an inventor’s lab for go-karts. It was here that he figured out how to make brake calipers for the first time, among many other astounding discoveries which are now commonplace on every kart created worldwide.

The little kart-making business grew when Antonio started accepting apprentices from around the town; nothing more than 16-year-olds looking to learn a trade. That was how a great deal of costs were kept low, and the true heart of Tony Kart was born.

Learning directly from Tony himself was how the handmade kart chassis and parts were consistently made to such a high quality, and it was these apprentices who would shape the brand going forward. One such man, Cecco Winkart, started working with Tony Kart (as Antonio was so fondly named) in 1977 and he’s done many an interview where he described his days working with the big man himself.

A large part of how Tony could make money was by being a mobile repair service at go-kart races, and Cecco recalls various occasions where they’d pack fruit boxes full of all their tools to make some money in repairs to keep developing new karts back at the workshop.

The Transition Period

So, from when Antonio started making go-karts within the simple means of his workshop until 1984, Tony Karts could only be found in that tiny Italian town. It’s pretty crazy to think about that, right? How such a renowned kart company stayed so small for such a long period of time.

Well, in 1984, all of that started to change. Italy was taken by storm in the karting craze that originally emerged in the 60s and 70s, and before long, most places were using Antonio’s humble hand-made karts.

He couldn’t keep up with the demand in his somewhat poky workshop/laboratory, and the fateful decision came that they would move to somewhere bigger to really allow the developed brand to take off.

The new headquarters was kept in Prevalle, but all of a sudden Antonio had so much more space to work with alongside his trained apprentices and various workers he’d picked up over the years. Not only was the decision for the move made to afford more working space, but Tony had well and truly decided that he wanted to bring his karts to more and more people.

There was a distinct shift in business tone from an artisan workshop to focusing on technology and development. 1984 was also the year that the maker of these karts decided to invest in material research, and this decision ultimately led to so many kart manufacturers now using materials such as magnesium in the construction of kart parts.

And, last but not least in the list of huge developments within the company, Antonio developed new karts and had all of the chassis painted green; the same green that is still used to this day!

The Racing Era

Only two years after the company’s big move to a bigger location, Tony Kart reaped the rewards with their first ever World Championship victory using their Grand Prix chassis in 1986.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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This was still a time when Tony Kart wasn’t involved directly in the go-kart racing scene and simply made karts that were picked up by drivers to compete independently, but that was all about to change…!

After a collection of other victories consecutively from 1986 through to 1989 in different karting categories, Tony Kart took the plunge and started a dedicated racing department. Along came the Tony Kart Racing Team!

They were allowed to work both synonymously and independently of the Tony Kart manufacturers, which in turn meant that they had direct access to the best innovations in karting and also had the free reign to compete in many categories across Europe.

Tony Kart equipped their racing team with a fleet of specialized trucks for kart transport and purpose-built workshop tents, which meant that the team’s official drivers were well-looked after to say the least!

Being signed with Tony Kart Racing was any competitive kart driver’s dream; what with the equipment/karts being top-notch, and the well-organized MO of the race team themselves.

Starting in 1990, the racing team scouted and signed many promising kart drivers who brought them victory after victory, including future Formula 1 legends. Everybody from Michael Schumacher, Tony Peslier and Jarno Trulli proudly wore the red, white and green colors of Tony Kart, and they were afforded every opportunity to become phenomenal with the race team’s help.

Only a year after the racing team’s founding, Tony Kart manufacturers released the iconic Formula chassis model; something which would go on to hold the most accolades and victories in the company’s history!

From 1991 until 2001, the Formula chassis won national and international championships back-to-back and it truly defined the branding and reputation of Tony Kart more than anything else. The now-infamous green chassis were becoming so popular in Italy and on a worldwide level that Tony Kart had to open a new factory facility near their headquarters to cope with demand in 1992.

Following the opening of this state-of-the-art developmental factory, 1993 saw the introduction of 3D design systems which went on to improve the quality assurance of each chassis without each one being hand-made. Every raw material made was rigorously tested for integrity and then shaped to exact specifications every single time!

The Innovation Era

It was from the intense developmental period following the foundation of the racing team that Tony Kart manufacturers really found their rhythm of excellence.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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1994 saw the introduction of the Esprit chassis; an improved Formula with a specifically stiffer chassis composition. Year after year, the manufacturers produced fantastic karts that kept winning championships.

A more off-the-wall win came in 1997 when the Australian driver, James Courtney, insisted on his kart being designed with a 50mm axle. He absolutely dominated his FIA World Championship category and it made Tony Kart consider the axle choice very closely indeed.

To both commemorate Courtney’s win and keep driving for excellence, the company changed its default axle size to 50mm from that point onwards, and it’s still made as such to this day.

As of 2003, Tony Kart was truly notorious within the karting field and their production demand was soaring. They made the fateful decision to once more expand their headquarters, opting this time to design the whole building from scratch and allowing for an even better purpose-built location for delivering exceptional karts to the world.

The new plant, remaining in Prevalle as an honor to its roots, became the global hub of the OTK Kart Group chassis division. In the same year, Tony Kart designed another of their front-running chassis that is still used in different variations today; the Racer. Tied with the Formula chassis, the Racer in all its forms has won the most world and national titles of any Tony Kart composition.

Excellence In the Modern Era

Finally, after years of securing most world titles on offer, Tony Kart secured victories in every major category around the globe in the year 2008: the CIK-FIA World Championship KF1, CIK-FIA European Championship KF1, CIK-FIA World Cup KF2 and the CIK-FIA European Championship KF2.

Shortly after these remarkable triumphs, in the year 2009 Tony Kart manufactured the M4 chassis model; the first one they’d ever made to be tested and produced inside of a wind tunnel to achieve maximum aerodynamics.

And on the back of this innovation, 2010 saw the introduction of the Tony Kart Quality Control program. This was a set of regulations that were to be followed for absolute excellence to be achieved in every product that they manufactured, and that sort of dedication shows to this very day.

The most recent accolade of note beyond the consistent karting championship wins is when, in 2016, the Tony Kart Racing Team expanded from a kart-specific avenue into motorsports across the spectrum. They are now a fully-fledged racing team that can be found in most motorsport divisions worldwide.

Tony-Kart: The Present

Truly, the history of this amazing manufacturer is worth celebrating! I personally find it fascinating that such a prestigious company started out as nothing but the nickname for an Italian man who was passionate about going fast, and now they’re securing victory after victory in kart races worldwide.

So, I mentioned numerous different chassis that have brought Tony Kart its victories over the years. Now would be a pretty good time to look at their current line-up of the best karts they have on offer, right?

Trust me when I say that the chassis they offer are worth the investment for the sheer racing pedigree that runs in that green tubing!!

Racer 401R

The prototypes for this beauty were ran in early 2000, with the winning chassis making its debut in late 2003/ early 2004. Ever since, there’s been so much success with new iterations of this build that Tony Kart have kept it even after almost 20 years since its conception.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Notable Features

  • ‘High-grip’ steering wheel
  • 30mm molybdenum steel tubing
  • Frontal spoiler
  • Iconic green-base chassis
  • Specially developed ‘Ergal’ (notable for its mechanical resistance/ longevity) calipers
  • Made specifically for gearbox categories
  • One-piece chain guard

Krypton 801R

Although the Racer chassis has seen most of the spotlight worldwide for its impressive victories, the Krypton chassis has been designed and made with every main component from all previous builds for optimal performance and quality. Specifically designed for the highest levels of competition and kart racing, the Krypton is the absolute pinnacle in its category.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Notable Features

  • 32mm molybdenum steel tubing
  • ‘High-grip’ steering wheel
  • Frontal spoiler
  • Evolved BSD braking system; lightweight and hydraulic
  • Specially developed ‘Ergal’ (notable for its mechanical resistance/ longevity) calipers
  • Flexible performance in both gearbox and non-gearbox categories
  • One-piece chain guard

Rookie EV

Not only has Tony Kart seen countless successes in adult categories of karting, but their junior and children’s division karts are seen to offer the same level of excellence and innovation, too!

Their newest iteration of the Rookie chassis, designed for Mini kart series (ages 9-13 on average), has been revolutionized to not only include extra safety measures, but to replicate the immense racing pedigree of the Racer.

Notable Features

  • Adaptable chassis geometry
  • Adjustable seat supports (for easier height adjustments)
  • BSM4 mechanical braking system
  • 28mm molybdenum chrome steel tubing
  • Alcantara-covered steering wheel
  • Camber and caster are fully adjustable

Final Thoughts

If it were left up to me, I’d have kept my Tony Kart forever and ever. This manufacturer’s unique history being grounded in raw passion is what has kept them forever moving forward in the face of innovations and all kinds of change, and the results are truly clear to see; if not in the victories racked up beside their name, then in the enjoyment of kart owners all around the globe.

Every chassis they make is the product of many years dedicated to creating something amazing. There aren’t many manufacturers that can say they take technology and innovations from across their line-up and use these components to improve other karts altogether!

After the beginnings of Tony Kart in 1958, we’ve seen nothing but continued excellence and passion for go-karting from them. And that speaks volumes to me about how they’ll be around for quite some time yet.