Krazy Kart! 1960s Rocket-Powered Go Kart

For enthusiasts who crave a motorsport thrill, drag racing and go-karting offer affordable options. Even the most potent conventional kart will not provide the outright speed fix afforded by a purpose-built drag car, but this vintage 1960 kart might fill that void. Forget conventional two-stroke or four-stroke motors because this one has a real rocket engine bolted to the back. The possibilities that it offers are mind-boggling, and this is your chance to park it in your workshop. Located in Coarsegold, California, you will find this beauty listed for sale here on Barn Finds Classifieds. Simply hand the owner $40,000, and you could be the proud owner of a minuscule with the potential to top 200mph.

The owner believes that this kart was built in the late 1960s, although it might also have come from the early 1970s. The frame is purpose-built from Chromoly tubing, but it has been clad in a genuine Rupp Corvette-style body. Rocket karts were accepted for competition by the NHRA at that time, but most of these utilized conventional kart practices of the period. That meant that the art of aerodynamics wasn’t a factor, although some builders did construct “lay-down” designs to reduce frontal area and the resultant drag. This one uses a conventional seating position, but that sleek fiberglass body should smooth the airflow around and across the vehicle. The fiberglass is in good condition, with no evidence of stress cracks. The paint and graphics are period-correct and invoke the feel of an earlier and less complicated era. The paint is presentable, and if the buyer is seeking a vintage survivor look, it wouldn’t need to be touched. However, some minor touch-up work and a clear coat would have it sparkling like new. The picture of the lady that adorns the front of this classic is not a decal. It is a genuine piece of airbrushed artwork, and not only is it typical of the period, but it makes it worth the extra effort to preserve the vehicle in its original state.

When we walk around to the back of the kart, we find the feature that makes this one stand out from its brethren.  The NHRA accepted rocket-powered karts for competition use, but they were eventually banned on safety grounds. The owner states that this one was built as a working prop to be used in a movie, but the film failed to reach production. However, this is more than a mere movie prop because it was designed to be a full-blown racer. There were a few operators at this time who built rocket-powered karts, and some had more success than others. One of the better-known engines was made by a company called Turbonique Inc, located in Orlando, Florida. Their T-16 motor could produce 300lbs of thrust, and several karts were built with a pair of these strapped to the back. They had a reputation for two things. The first was that they were seriously fast. The second was that they could explode without warning. The motor in this kart is not one of those units, which is not a bad starting point. The other big difference between this one and the T-16 units is that while those powered the rear wheels, this one is a “free air” design. That means that it uses nothing more than engine thrust for forward movement. The unit is complete, and the owner feels that getting it running should be possible. This motor is estimated to produce around 1,000lbs of thrust, and that means that the owner’s claim that it has the potential to hit well over 200mph on the salt flats is feasible. Given the driver’s proximity to the ground, that figure would feel considerably faster. As well as the work required to get that rocket firing, there are a few other areas that will need attention. The most important of these is the brakes. The kart features a single disc setup, and while that might be fine for regular competition use, it probably won’t be a lot of help in arresting speeds from beyond 200mph.

As a purpose-built racer, the interior of the kart offers no luxury features. The owner has installed a carbon fiber seat and a magnesium steering yoke from a fighter plane since this photo was taken. The seat is fitted with slots for a safety harness, but as the owner rightly notes, getting thrown clear would probably be a better option if it all does go horribly wrong. For me, if I had to choose between sliding down a salt flat at 200mph wearing nothing but protective clothing or flipping uncontrollably down a salt flat strapped inside a vehicle that is now a potential bomb, the former option would look pretty attractive.

Vintage race cars will always have a decent helping of the “cool” factor, but this rocket-powered go kart takes that concept to the max. It could be a blast to drive if it can be made to run, and when you look at its overall condition, that seems a real possibility. I can’t imagine how exhilarating it would be to top 200mph sitting so close to Planet Earth, but someone has the chance to find out for themselves. I hope that a buyer can be found and that they will return this classic to a running state. There has to be someone out there who is seeking the ultimate adrenaline rush, and this could be the answer to their prayers.

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    If you bought this,& gave it to your kids,would the
    Authorities (CPS) be knocking on your door.

    Like 11
  2. JRHaelig

    I met a guy at a cruise night who brought a peroxide powered jet pack he had made. I didn’t see him fly it, but he did show a video.

    It ran on 10% hydrogen peroxide with a silver ingot as the catalyst. The stuff in your bathroom is 3%. Apparently this was a popular Nazi fuel back in the day.

    Anyway, if you want to ride a rocket…here’s your chance!

    Like 5
  3. Fred

    Want to go fast? This might be your answer? Want to go fast safely? Look elsewhere.

    Like 3
  4. CJinSD

    I love the Monza GT go-kart body, as used by the local Shriners in my youth. I’m not sure how I’d feel about firing off a fifty-year old peroxide rocket, but I’m sad that you can’t buy a new one and everything that says about what’s gone wrong with the country in the intervening years. The old ads for Turbonique Drag Axles used to capture the imagination for sure.

    Like 9
  5. Vance

    I can’t help but think of my Saturday morning companion, Wile E. Coyote ( Gadigetcus-Fanaticum) behind the wheel of this contraption. It would have to say ACME on its side, and the poor unfortunate soul would run into a painted tunnel or run off a cliff. Bugs was too savvy for my slow friends, but the Road Runner was fun for everyone. TV tray in front of me, a good breakfast, and the whole day was mine. Didn’t know how good I had it.

    Like 13
    • Mark Member

      I loved Wile, I still do! Along with the Tazmanian Devil. The best cartoons, ever.

      Like 2
  6. Melton Mooney

    I’m sorry, did you say f…f…f…forty grand?

    Like 3
    • stu

      YEAH!
      What’s $40,000…just money….

  7. alphasud Member

    I can picture the scenario. You and your buddies standing around drinking adult beverages all working up the courage and beer muscles for the one guy to finally say “hold my beer, watch this!”

    Like 6
  8. rustylink

    that’s cute – the ad is written in a manner as if someone is insane enough to take a 50 year old peroxide rocket go-cart to the track and use it.

    Like 4
  9. MarveH

    Not the gift a kid wants from his ill-tempered stepfather, there are better ways to make grim results appear accidental.

    Like 3
  10. Bamapoppy

    Uh, any sane person who buys it would be better served going on the World of Wheels tour with it! They’d probably have to create you a separate category but you’re guaranteed to win the first place trophy every weekend. And alphasud (beer name noted) that’s funny as rip!

  11. Rick in Oregon

    40 grand….HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, although, there is one born every minute!!! LOL

    Like 2
  12. Howie Mueler

    Yes that looks safe, what could go wrong? $40k? Good One!!

    Like 1
  13. Gary Rhodes

    The reason the Pollution Packer and all the other hydrogen peroxide racecars don’t run anymore is the the sale of high grade peroxide to the public was extremely limited as supposedly very fsgetous. He said if a drop of it hit a bare hand by the time your brain registered it the drop would be through your hand and on the ground. I got this info from the owner/driver of the Pollution Packer car when I helped him one night at our local track so I assumed he knew of which he spoke. He could not find a supplier anywhere and when his sippy ran out he was done. That was back in the 80s, if he is still with us maybe he can refresh/confirm a old farts memory

    Like 2
  14. Ike Onick

    My in-laws live one town over (Oakhurst) and this is EXACTLY what I would expect from the pot-growing, meth-head, whack-job, acid casualties that live in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Nice folks, just a little bit “different” out there.

    Like 1
  15. PairsNPaint

    From the seller’s ad: “I need to find 2 nuts for the front wheels.” Sounds like he just needs to find one nut.

    Like 2
  16. Terry Bowman

    I can say I sat in one of the big boys, that run in the 300’s( have a photo with me in it). It was “Sammy Miller’s” last car that he ran. He was nice enough to allow me to sit in it, with him standing next to to cockpit for the photo, just after a run at the Miami-Hollywood speedway. The event was the “LAST DRAG RACE” for the strip, around 30 years ago.

    Like 2
  17. Carbuzzard Member

    “Doing the peroxide bop”?

  18. KnightO

    That thing there…. is missing it’s wings and tail! AND you’re gonna need a parachute too!

  19. Paul N

    anyone have phone number for Jay Leno. This is up his alley and he can afford it

  20. JOHN Member

    This is the coolest thing EVER!

  21. 4504 Member

    Hi fans

    The kart is mine. Judging from some of the funnier comments, you’all just a bunch of Nervous Nellies! You got… you got… Lady-Balls!

    Ok, just kidding. I think the comments are ok and somewhat warranted. But understand back in that day some race cars did not mess around with those tomfoolery things like adequate brakes, spoilers, air dams, parachutes and all that nonsense meant to keep you alive. Let’s not argue about what or who killed who and all of that nonsense.

    As just one example, if any of you would look up or knew about motorcycle board track racing in the earlier 1900’s, to have some fun or really accomplish something spectacular often involves a healthy amount of risk, along with guts or courage mixed in. This is often true to this day. Besides, only about a dozen or two people actually ended up in the hereafter because of these karts. Point-Counterpoint… “They bought their tickets… they knew the risks… I say “let em crash”!

    It was actually quite safe if you really know what you are doing. To this day, there are unofficial vintage rocket karts being run. Check youtube, there is a rocket kart legend, about 90 years old or so, who ran a rocket kart (unofficially) a year or two ago. He knew what he was doing. Besides, it is his life. To be sure, even without any of the unfortunate incidents, which were way publicly over-played, these karts would never fly in the current times. The goal of some presently is to bring rocket-powered karts into the fold of modern technology builds, including of course more safety regulations and requirements and equipment than you could shake a stick at.

    The price does seem high but I but I put that there to hopefully shake off the trolls, if you read the classified ad i specified that offers would be considered.

    But for now I think I may keep it, it depends. Money is not my goal or consideration here. My health has not been the best of of late and I know I would not currently race it. I recently sold a running and very streetable, rust-free, 71 Olds Cutlass with a spare 455 motor and turbo transmission for only $3,000 on this site. A soldier in Germany bought it and shipped it over there. Worth twice that easy. And I think it kinda depends on your prospective of what something if worth or value. For instance, I collect coins and at a recent auction I was watching there were plenty of bidders who were after a rare old penny, and that penny sold for just under $50,000. A penny. Which would you rather have for $50k… a penny or a mind-blowing rocket kart?

    If I knew a person or two who was actually competent with rocket technology, in particular liquid propellants and familiar with peroxide moters, I personally would run it in the 1/4 or on the flats if i was up to it, but even i would add a wing and at least a front air dam. And for those who did not notice, there are wheelie bars on it, only one is visable in a picture. But that would be only one of your concerns and i am not very sure how effective it would be at high speed, problably just give you just the right angle to take flight.

    So just relax. This kart has been run. Both of the rear tires were shredded when I got it bc, in my opinion, the last racer did not put proper speed-rated tires on it but managed to keep it straight, more or less, without crashing it and without a scratch, and coasted to a safe stop and from what I understand that was his first and last run with it. I have put Hoosiers on the rear. Lawnmower tires do not work for karts like this. Crazy as it seems, you do need to use common sense on any race vehicle along with a healthy dose of competence and I think that is one thing we all can agree with.

    Anyways, thanks for the comments and try to sort out my post as i tend to mix humor or levity with seriousness…. I will problably pull the listing anyways but it is fun to comment about and it is cool in any case regardless about any perceived danger, real or imaginary. One could race with it, use it for publicity events such as grand opening for business, put it in car shows, put it in a museum if you like, lots of things. Contact me with any serious offers if you like… mike

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