Go-karting is a mid-twentieth-century sport of an age of movement and speed. Two years after it emerged as a pastime in the United States in 1957 it began to be established as a popular variation of car racing. There is nothing handsome or streamlined about the standard go-kart, which was evolved from the adaptation of tiny 2½-horsepower engines to a miniature scale. Because of its comparative low cost, the sport appeals strongly to those who wish to enjoy something of the thrills of car racing, though without its hazards. The safety factor is ensured by average race speeds of from 23 to 28 miles per hour, with a maximum burst of about 40 miles per hour, and tracks are specially designed to minimise accident risks.
The first New Zealand club was formed in Auckland in June 1959 under the style of the Auckland Mini Kart Club, with 25 members and five vehicles. In the next three years the sport developed into a craze until there were over 70 clubs operating in all parts of the country. From the beginning, the early enthusiasts in New Zealand determined that there should be no haphazard development. Safety considerations demanded that clear-cut specifications should be agreed upon about such matters as the power and size of carts.
The New Zealand Go-Karting Association was formed in September 1959, with an executive council drawn from clubs in the Auckland district. Separate associations were also set up for the North and South Islands. Strict rules and specifications were drawn up, and it was resolved that control of the sport should remain with go-karters themselves and not be dominated by any existing motor sports organisation. In the ensuing years a close watch has been kept on all interprovincial and national championships. Thus early public fears about the hazards of the sport have been allayed, especially as a tendency towards the use of big and costly engines, noticeable in the first year, has been checked. This has been due largely to the enthusiastic efforts of the early promoters, many of whom still control the sport.