Rod & Custom is recognized as one of the most influential magazines ever about hot rods and custom cars. It was the pioneering publication in the 1950s that brought fledgling automotive related hobbies into the mainstream limelight. In 1957, for example, an R&C article featuring Budd Anderson virtually kicked off the model car customizing craze with a mail-in model car contest. Yes, folks actually mailed in their customized models to R&C for the contest judging. Budd was then with Revell and later would be known as "The Kat from AMT".
A year later, in its July 1958 issue, R&C performed the same magic for the brand new sport called go karting. As detailed in other areas of this website, karting was born in Southern California in 1956. By 1958, regular organized races were held in the parking lot of May Company Shopping Center in Covina, California (pictured in the R&C cover photo). Other than the appearance of kart ads in a few mainstream rodding magazines and perhaps bits and pieces of semi-organized racing just getting going in parking lots or airfields in other parts of the country, go karting was still virtually an unknown sport until this major feature appeared in R&C. And I mean major. The July 1958 R&C actually featured 6 separate articles about go karts: "Are They Here to Stay?"; "Let's Go Karting"; "Kart Types"; "Accessory Round-Up"; "The Shape of Things to Come"; and "More Go for the Kart". The article even featured FULL SPECS on several karting brands (some are reprinted in this article). Even the Arin Cee cartoon that month featured a karting theme. And there were several kart and karting accessory ads in that issue also.
Racing at May Company
Here's a nice shot showing race action in the May Company Store parking lot. Regulars at these events included Duffy Livingstone, Don Boberick, Marlene Duffy (who later married Don), and Marv Patchen of Petersen Publishing (then publisher of R&C). Spencer Murray, also of Petersen Publishing, took most of the photos and wrote the "Let's Go Karting" article. This led to Spencer creating an entire "Trend" publication the next year called "Let's Go-Karting" (Trend Book 185).
I rather like this pair of photos. The upper shot shows the Rose Bowl parking
lot - that's the first place karters used to get together on Sunday afternoons. Duffy
Livingstone used to sell kits he made up at his muffler shop (with hand drawn
instructions). The second photo was taken at a May Co. parking lot event. I do believe
that's Duffy in the photo. The late Don Boberick, who contributed much of the historical
infoirmation found on this website, was a lawyer by profession and was instrumental to the
survival of karting in those early days. The Feb 1961 issue of "The Karter" had
this to say about Don:
"As karting progressed, Don was called upon more and more to help with various clubs and legal problems and advice on running events. Probably one of themost impassioned speeches ever delivered in karting was given by Don at a meeting of the West Covina city council when karters were threatened with beingbooted out of Eastland because they allegedly made too much noise. The basis of his appeal was that the pleasure karting brings to so many amilies certainly overshadowed the discomfort the noise might bring to a few. Because they had activities only twice a month, it seemed improper that the city should deprive so many of its residents from enjoying karting. With the conclusion of his speech, the gallery broke into cheers, and the council could do little but let karting continue."
I really get a kick out of the caption about the triple engined kart. Imagine going 60 MPH on a go kart!!! The second shot shows the West Bend 750. This seemed to be the most prevalent setup in '58.
The July 1958 R&C issue included specs on 6 kart models including "The
Bug", Go Kart 400, Caretta, Wee Bird, Coneco Speedster and Fun Rod. Here are pics of
2 of the lesser known and lesser remembered models, the "Wee Bird" and "Fun
Now for the complete specs on the most important karts of 1958, reprinted on their own pages:
Go Kart 400
To Page 2 "Deserts and Rivers"
To Page 3 1958 Karting Accessories
To Page 4 "Shape of Things to Come"
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Build your own classic style kart!!