Photos and captions by Stan Mott
Around the world in three years. What? In a go kart?
The only recorded instance of a go kart being driven around the world was a circumnavigation by Stan Mott of New York, who drove a Lambretta-engined 175-c.c. Italkart (wIth a ground clearance of two inches) 23,300 land miles through 28 countries from February 15, 1961, to June 5, 1964, beginning and finishing in New York. Why did he do it? A bet over a cup of coffee! Read Stan’s entire account of his adventures in PDF format, published in Argosy Magazine, November, 1964. Reprinted here by permission. Thanks, Stan.
Surveying the terrain outside Quarzazate, Morrocco.
Gokart in rain-ravaged Cyclops cardboard body not fooling Bobby in Dover, England. Note: For those readers who no longer believe in photographs in this Photoshopped world, see genuine, non-retouched drawings:
“The story behind these drawings, as briefly as possible: Back in 1961, gokarts were a worldwide fad. Whenever I was stopped by police in Italy, a crowd gathered. They always took my side and shouted the police down. In France, the French considered me insane. But, as they consider insanity part of life, and as I was alive, I had a right to drive on French roads. Not so in England. British customs impounded my gokart as soon as I drove off the Calais/Dover ferry. A British gokart fan, whom I had befriended by mail, picked me up in his van and delivered me and gokart to London. There we figured I could go on TV, gain public sympathy, and special permission to drive on English roads. I got on the Oiff Mitchelmore TV show. But no special permission. The problem then was to get back to Dover, 70 miles east. My British fan didn’t have the time. I’d have to drive. How? If gokarts were illegal, what about a teeny experimental car? Ah! I built a speedy dart thing out of a TV cardboard box, masking tape and grey paint. I lettered “CYCLOPS” on the front and “EXPERIMENTAL–DANGER” on the sides for style, attached a Florida license plate an American sailor gave me in Naples for legality, and at 2 a.m set out. All went well… until it rained. Racing down the M20 highway, trying to reach Dover before daylight, water arcing off the tires, the body began to disintegrate. The engine shut down. A piece of wet cardboard had plastered itself on the Lambretta 175cc engine’s cooling air intake. Over heated. I ripped it off and waited. The rain increased. The engine cooled and started. Off again, with pieces of the body flapping and ripping off. The rain became torrential. When I reached Dover, the body looked like a half eaten sardine. I tried to hide in the ferry dock. A bobby spotted me. The game was up. He sauntered over. “I say, I saw this on the telly. Good going!” God bless you, sir, I thought. “May I take a photo of you next to the gokart?”, I asked. “Oh, quite. I’ll pretend I’m writing you up. Can’t approve of anything illegal, ha, ha!” “No sir.” Click! I escaped on the next ferry.” From A Kart In Jolly England, April 1963 Karting World magazine.
On the “Right side” of The Wall, West Berlin, with Swiss traveling companion Christine having just escaped Soviet dominated East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, July 1962.
Taking a shortcut in Hannover, Germany, during the wet summer of 1962.
Local traffic outside Damascus, Syria, May 1963.
Racing gokarts with King Hussein of Jordan at Amman Airport, June 1963.
Asking directions outside Badlapur, India, en route from Mumbai to Poona, August 1963.