The company of Prevalle (Brescia), in the centre North of Italy, has been in the last years leader in the karting World, and has strongly contributed to making the history of karting in Italy, in Europe and in the World. Chassis with Tony, Kosmik and FA – Fernando Alonso – (the two latter born respectively in 2003 and 2006), engines with Vortex/Rok, and accessories with OTK, make Tony Kart Company one of the largest karting companies in the World.
Tony Kart was born in 1958 thanks to the passionate initiative of a great mechanical craftsman and it was one of the first companies which followed the American karting phenomenon, creating a chain production of chassis for go-karts. In 1983, with a new management, Tony Kart came to a turning point and the new company received a radical acceleration; the factory, in virtue of new investments on research and sophisticated manufacturing, engineered and started making methods of production even more efficient. After this rapid growth and modernization, Tony Kart quickly came to the forefront of the karting scene, conquering lots of International Titles starting already from the ‘80s.
What led Tony Kart to its great success the most is the non-stop technological development in accordance with the binding demand imposed by high level competitions. Two fundamental aspects allowed the factory to do the qualitative leap, guaranteeing the constant planning and productive development process: the employment of a highly qualified staff and the automation of the production phases. In fact, robots controlled by sophisticated software permit today high productive standards with quality near to perfection. Nowadays, in order to offer chassis more and more innovative and competitive, Tony Kart engineering department is always experimenting with new solutions according to the latest technological innovations present on the market. The essence and peculiarity of Tony Kart production are represented by the passion for mechanics and planning innovation.
In the late ‘90s Tony Kart concentrated in new fields as well, in conformity with the modern concept of factory. Some important sectors are now spreading in Tony Kart, such as marketing, communication and any type of multimedia support. These instruments allowed the sales network to extend and improve so much that it is now developed in 60 Countries all around the world. During these years, Tony Kart has been involved in exciting and prestigious cooperation relationships with top characters and associations of the international motor-sport scene. Last but not least the collaboration with the Senna Institute, which led Tony Kart to the creation of the jewel “Ayrton Senna Racing Collection”.
A new innovative production site was built and is fully operational from early 2000. The factory is running its business based on a modern management system, skilfully coupling the numberless sporting victories gained so far with the perfect company administration.
From ‘60s till now, go-karts characterized by the unmistakable “green Tony” raced and won on lots of different tracks all over the World. Listing all titles won in years by Tony would bring to an unending paper, but what is interesting is that F1 drivers today racing and winning in the number one automotive racing championship, have learned and put the basis of their driving skills racing on a Tony kart! Jarno Trulli winner for three consecutive years of major International races such as Japan Grand Prix, World and European Championship, Japan World Cup, North America Championship and Oceania Championship. Sebastian Vettel also won with Tony in 2001 the Junior World Championship. Amongst British drivers racing and winning with Tony XXX.
This year Tony has started with success. WSK Euro Series, the most important European event, has in fact seen, on the International Circuit of La Conca, the success of Tony Kart-Vortex in the master category, Super KF, and in KF2. The protagonists of this success were Marco Ardigò and Ignazio D’Agosto.
A visit to Tony Kart company is like entering the Olympus of karting, where all the more advanced technology and know how of karting is preserved. A modern and very “clean” entrance introduces me and my photographer to our visit at Tony. Skipped the reception we quickly move to the heart of the Company, where an incredible number of shining chassis are aligned, mostly green, some blue and others cyan, respectively Tony, Kosmic and FA chassis. An incredible vision! All the atmosphere is more of a laboratory then a kart industry. It is clear how the main kart company has changed in the last years from a handcraft company to a real modern and international organization.
Production phases: From steel tubes through welding to chassis
We then start our tour, considering that where we have arrived is the end of the production line for chassis. These are in fact completely built inside the company except for raw materials such as steel (tubes), magnesium, aluminium and plastic materials, which are then machined or stamped by Tony to build many accessories. Externally also colouring of chassis and components is applied.
So let us start from the steel tubes. These are carefully chosen in diameter and wall thickness and the specific information on the steel alloy with which they are produces is cautiously kept secret. The tubes are then cut to the requested length and bent to the right shape, using specific machines.
Following step is of dramatic importance with the tubes being put together on what is called a mask, which keeps all parts in the right position, as they will be finally displaced on the welded chassis. The mask is then introduced in a numerically controlled welding machine that has the possibility to weld with fantastic precision and speed all the tubes together. The mask rotates around the longitudinal axis of the chassis so weldings can be completed acting from over and under the kart. In around 45 minutes the robot welds all the tubes of the chassis and the base of a new kart is created. All weldings are applied using MIG (Metal Inert Gas) solution, which is a string welding with protective gas that avoids oxidation of hot metal with the air. This could in fact weaken the welding. This process and the use of an electronic robot with numeric control gives the weldings a very high and constant quality that permits to have great performance on all chassis produced. A visual prove of this is the very uniform “look” of the weldings that can be well seen before the chassis are painted. Another confirmation comes from the fact that Tony kart uses exactly these same chassis for its racing team and drivers. Only differences are the weight distribution measurements done specifically for each driver by seat adjustment and eventual addition of weights, and telemetry system application.
Also all other components are built internally in Tony Kart such as brake and accelerator pedals, steering columns, wheels, rear axles and rear bearing supports. All is finally collected together in a specific area and chassis are completed, by mounting all these additional elements manually by the operative staff.
What is then done externally to the Company is colouring of both chassis and components. All aluminium and magnesium components are coloured and anodized. Also the study of plastic front, rear and lateral bumpers is brought forward in Fondmetal Wind Tunnel.
At the end of the day Tony is able to produce a high number of new high quality karts per day and sell them all around the World, such as in US, Europe and Japan, but also boosting sales in Asia, such as in Cina and Malesia, and also South America, specifically in Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica.