This Go-Kart Modeled After a 1923 Racecar Revs Our Engines
Douglas Vargray is an industrial designer who works for the Seattle-based lighting company Resolute. It’s a job he likes and a job he enjoys, but sometimes, he he say, he needs an “antidote to the corporate lighting world.” So seven years ago, Vargray started building go-karts.
His latest creation is an ultra-light model modeled after the 1923 Austin Boulogne, a racecar the British maker Austin sent to Boulogne, France for that year’s Grand Prix. Vagray made his ride to look just like the old timey racer, but built it from thin but strong plywood and coated it in an ultralight fabric called Xorel.
For a modern twist, Vagray skipped the original racer’s 750-cc engine and installed an 88-volt, 5-kilowatt electric motor that’ll take it up to 48 mph. That’s not enough to win a Grand Prix—even in 1923—but Vagray’s pretty confident it’ll do well when he takes it to an all-electric race in Washington State in August.
Vargray spent about a year and a half building his Austin Boulogne, roughly 250 man hours in all. That’s a lot of time away from home, but go-karts are a decidedly family affair. Vargray got into them because he thought his then-eleven-year-old daughter would like to get behind the wheel. (“In impeccable dad logic, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to build one together?’”) A few years later, his daughter pushed him toward electric power. She’s home from college this summer, and raced last weekend.
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