Emerson Fittipaldi’s Mini Kart

1
The proud owner

The first karts specifically designed for competition in Brazil were manufactured in the sixties with the best known manufacturers of the time being Mini-Kart, FBM, Silpo-Kart and Rois-Kart-Mills. The Mini was designed with the help of Anisio Campos in the mid-60s. A new, innovative design for that time, it started to be manufactured by the Fittipaldi brothers. The Mini team was the first kart team officially run by a kart manufacturer. Great kart racers of the time raced Mini-karts including Carol Figueiredo, Maneco Combacau, Durval Viscardi, Carlos A. Savoia, Marcos Troncon and, of course, Emerson Fittipaldi. He raced Minis between 1965 and 1968 while also competing in Formula Vee race cars and tourist-class cars before moving to Europe. Emerson’s name was misspelled ‘Emersom’ on the kart’s front number plate. According to Emerson this was a mistake made by the painter and they decided to leave it unchanged for the whole season. This Mini-Kart was manufactured in 1966. The seat and the two 10 litre fuel tanks (one on each side) are one piece, fibreglass moulded units. The driver sits in an almost horizontal position which was very similar to the old ‘torpedo’ single-seater race cars of the past. This allowed for a more aggressive, controlledskid and daring driving style. In spite of the low centre of gravity, handling was impaired by the very narrow tyres (3.50 x 5 rear, 2.60 x 5 front).

2
Emerson at the wheel in 1966

The front and rear tyres were actually the same size but the front tyres were ‘narrowed’ on a lathe. The front and rear number plates were also made from fibreglass with the front one shaped as a cone and bolted under the steering wheel. The rear number plate, in the shape of a concave rectangle, was at first bolted to the rear bar but vibration problems led to its removal. It featured Emerson’s number ‘7’. The 5 inch wheels (2.5 inch wide fronts, 4.5 inch wide rears), rear axle bearing cases and brake calipers were cast in extra light magnesium while the steering wheel (a ‘Formula 1’ model) was aluminum. The 7mm thick brake disc was made of SAE 1030 steel. The frame, designed for great flexibility, was made of 1 inch seamless steel tubes with 2mm thick walls. Frame reinforcements are made of quarter inch steel tubes with 1.5mm thick walls. The 125cc engine was manufactured by Mini and produced about 15hp and weighs around 7 kilos. Forced air flow cooling is achieved through a fan mounted over the Italian C.E.V. magneto. This kind of cooling is required because the engine does not get frontal cooling airflow as it is installed behind seat. Bore and stroke were 62mm x 41mm with the connecting rod needle bearing supported. The engine block and head were cast aluminum. This engine revved up to around 12,000 rpm. This particular Mini-kart was found in a car repair shop north of Sao Paulo some four years ago.

3
Authentic misspelled name and two side fuel
tanks

No parts were missing but the general state was very bad. The first step of the restoration process was complete disassembly and evaluation of wear on each part. The fibreglass parts were sanded down to reveal the remains of the original Mini team yellow colour and green lettering. The fuel tanks were made leakproof and the fibreglass parts repaired. The next step was to sandblast the frame, engine and carburettor parts, wheels, brake components and the steering wheel. While the frame and bodywork were being repainted the dimensions of the lettering and Mini logo were calculated to be later applied on the fuel tanks and number plates. The engine was relined to its original bore and the crankshaft was realigned and balanced. The steering wheel was anodised and covered as was the seat with the black plastic ‘courvin’ material used in the sixties. New wheel bearings were then fitted and the wiring was completely renewed. The carburettor was restored and a new set of gaskets provided.

44
125cc engine and large brake disc

The engine was then assembled and bench tested before the complete kart was reassembled. A total of six months was spent in this restoration work but the result was really worth it. MARCH 2006 www.kartingmagazine.com 91 125cc engine and large brake disc Reunited after almost 30 years ADVERTISERS INDEX Name Page No. ANDOVER NORTON 83 APPLE RACING 60/87 BAYFORD MEADOWS 68 BIREL OBC B.K.I.A. 78 BRITISH SUPERKART ASSOCIATION 82 BUCKMORE PARK 25 BUCKMORE PARK KART SHOP 69 CAMBERLEY KART CLUB 86 CENTURY MOTORSPORT 78 CHEQUERED FLAG AWNINGS 74 CHRONO-SPORT 69 CLAY PIGEON K.C. 65 CLUB 125 RACING 89 CUSTOM CANOPIES 78 DARTFORD KARTING 47-51 DEMON TWEEKS 10/11 GRAND PRIX RACEWEAR 45 HRS MOTORSPORT 69/82 KKC KART COMPONENTS 2-4 MARANELLO KART UK 83 MAYFLOWER MARQUEES 82 MOTORSPORT WORLD IFC/1 PATRON RACING 79 PETER KNIGHT POWER-SPORT 82 P.F. INTERNATIONAL 33 PHILIP GOUGH RACING 82 PROTECH 78 R3 RACING 68 SAXON MOTORSPORT 53 SODIKART 17 SPORT DEVICES 87 STRAWBERRY RACING 39 SUPERTUNE 74 S.W.R.D. 68 TAL-KO 56/79 TEALE SERVICES 78 TECTONICS UK 79 THAILAND 24 HOUR 27 TILBURY KART RACEWAY 74 UK KARTING 74 VANTAGE ONE 79 WEST OF SCOTLAND K.C. 86 WILDTRACKS 73 ZIP KART 14/15 ZIP NORTH 41 ZOOM KART MART 58/59 Having listened to evidence at its hearing on the 31st January, the Motor Sports Association’s National Court suspended the competition licence of Junior Rotax driver Adam Christodoulou until September 2006. This means Adam will not be permitted to compete in the UK or overseas during this period. However, the court decided not to take any action against three other drivers, Lewis Reeves, Jack Harvey and Jordan Chamberlain.

 

Separately, the court ordered Christodoulou’s father, Peter, to pay £13,000 in costs. These decisions were taken on the third and final day of a hearing that opened in December 2005 In December, the court found that the four drivers had competed at Rowrah on the 5th June 2005 using illegally-modified engines. These had been modified by Peter Christodoulou whose actions resulted in a fine of £30,000. The latest order to pay £13,000 in costs is in addition to this fine. At the January hearing, the court did not accept Adam Christodoulou’s claim that he did not know that his engine at Rowrah had been illegally modified. However they did accept that Reeves, Harvey and Chamberlain did not know the engines they were using were illegal. In effect, said the court, these drivers had “been fooled”. The court had heard unchallenged evidence from Michael Garton, one of the MSA’s most experienced technical commissioners, who said the modifications made to the engines by Christodoulou had been “very deliberate, very sophisticated and very expensive.” Garton also said that this was “the most serious case of cheating” he had ever witnessed during his many years of investigating ineligibility in karting. In a statement, the court said “We accept that Adam (Christodoulou) has considerable ability and we do not wish to prevent him from participating in the sport for more than one season. We also accept that this matter has been hanging over his head for a considerable amount of time, not due wholly to his own fault. We are accordingly suspending his licence until 30th September 2006 and we make an order pursuant to rule 161 of the FIA rules to give that suspension international application.”

55
Reunited after almost 30 years

The court also heard that the four drivers, since the meeting at Rowrah, had been “victimised” by a number of clubs. In its statement, the court added: “We have been made aware of the fact that some clubs have already taken matters into their own hands so as, in effect, to mete out what might be regarded as kangaroo justice. We wholly understand why people feel very strongly about this kind of cheating. Indeed, we agree with them. We, however, have heard and tested the actual evidence to the best of our abilities and it is we who have the job of deciding where the truth lies. We have done so and we very much hope that our decision and rulings draw a firm line under this matter. We would be very concerned indeed if further reports of any kind of kangaroo justice were to come to our attention again.”