Duffy Livingstone who will always be remembered as the father of the Go Kart died August 13, 2017 aged 92.
In 1942 aged 17 he went to war.
Having survived flying missions over the South Pacific where he received the Gold Star in Lieu of Third Air Medal for distinguishing himself by meritorious acts while participating in aerial flight Duffy was discharged in 1946 and returned to Pasadena where he became involved with automobiles more specifically hot rods, sports cars and mufflers.
Because of his sports car fabrication and racing activities Duffy often consulted with his friend Art Ingels who worked at the famous Kurtis Kraft race car plant in Glendale California. During a visit to Art’s place Duffy saw the Ingels’ creation; a small tubular frame attached to four wheels at each corner and powered by a lawn mower engine. Art’s invention stuck in Duffy’s mind. He immediately started to construct his own version of Art’s machine after getting the OK from Art, one for himself and one for a friend. Then another friend wanted one and another and another. Duffy then called Art and organised a play day at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl at that time attracted quarter midgets and many of their owners also wanted to know where they could obtain these new fangled miniature cars. Duffy drew up plans and put together materials lists and started to supply kits of parts to the converts; Go Kart Manufacturing was born.
All of Duffy’s years of involvement in kart racing as a driver, mechanic, kart manufacturer, co-founder of organised karting and the Go Kart Club of America which evolved into the International Kart Federation, have been honoured by the International Kart Federation through their Duffy Awards, a bronze statuette of 'Joe Karter' 12 inches tall mounted on a wooden base 6 inches high. These statuettes are presented every year to IKF National Champions. Duffy also served as an International Kart Federation Board Member and was a Past President of the International Kart Federation.
Incidentally there are YouTube videos of Duffy telling the story about the beginning of Karting and as well an entertaining recollection concerning the 1961 Nationals when the race distance was changed from 10 laps to 15 laps requiring Duffy to come up with an ingenious method of carrying extra fuel using an inner tube; all worth watching.
As well as karting Duffy enjoyed building and flying complex radio controlled multiengine model aircraft. As a young teenager back in Pasadena he worked in a model shop for 75 cents a week; there he developed a fondness for the scaled down aircraft.
Around the early 1990’s Duffy retired from his welding shop in Costa Mesa California. Duffy was an acclaimed welder and undertook critical welding projects for aerospace companies located within the Los Angeles basin. He moved to Grants Pass Oregon with his second wife Deedee. There they kept 7 dogs at one time, rescued three donkeys, a couple of goats and a few sheep; Duffy sure liked things with four legs and four wheels. Later Duffy and Deedee would relocate to Ooltewah, Tennessee.
In 1939 aged 14 when he started working in the model shop in Pasadena, his given name of Frank gave way to Duffy for some forgotten reason; however his massive contribution to the early days of karting will never be forgotten, a sport that has spawned the majority of Formula 1 drivers in recent decades.