The 1961 Rathmann Xterminator go-kart displays first-of-its-kind aluminium chassis

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The Rathmann Xterminator go-kart was created in 1961 by Jim Rathmann Racing Products Inc in Dallas, Texas. Jim Rathmann, a successful race car driver who won the Indianapolis 500, developed the go-kart with a lightweight aluminium alloy frame, which was unique for its time.

The 1961 Rathmann Xterminator go-kart displays first-of-its-kind aluminium chassis

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This frame was advantageous because it was lighter and less prone to corrosion than the more common tubular steel frame.

Jim Rathmann had a successful racing career, consistently placing in the top five positions at the Indianapolis 500 throughout the 1950s. In 1960, he won the Indianapolis 500 in a thrilling race against Rodger Ward, which solidified his legacy as one of the greatest racers of his time.

Jim Rathmann Racing Products Inc produced a series of advanced go-karts with duralumin aluminium alloy chassis, and one of them is now on display in the Smithsonian Museum.

The 1961 Rathmann Xterminator go-kart featured in this article is powered by an 87cc McCulloch MC-10 two-stroke single-cylinder engine with a Palmini exhaust. It has a single seat with red upholstery, a steering wheel, and pedals on either side of the steering column. The kart rides on Firestone bias-ply slick tires mounted on aluminium wheels and has dual rear scrub brakes.

Later in life, Jim Rathmann owned a Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Florida and became friends with astronauts Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper. He convinced General Motors (GM) President Ed Cole to establish a program that provided each astronaut with two new cars per year.

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This program resulted in the Corvette becoming the car of choice for NASA astronauts, providing invaluable publicity for GM during the Apollo years.

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