This is a rare, original 1961 Rathmann Xterminator go-kart, it was developed by Jim Rathmann Racing Products Inc in Dallas, Texas by the Indianapolis 500-winning race car driver of the same name.
Unlike many go karts from the era, the Rathmann Xterminator has a lightweight (duralumin) aluminum alloy frame instead of the much more common tubular steel frame. This has a few advantages, the first and foremost being the lower weight, though it’s also far less likely to have issues with corrosion.
Dick Rathmann began his racing career as a teenager, using his older brother Jim’s identification to compete. His brother, who also pursued a racing career, adopted the name Dick Rathmann, causing confusion between the two siblings in later years. Jim Rathmann entered his first Indianapolis 500 race in 1949, but a crash prevented him from completing the race.
Throughout the 1950s, Rathmann proved himself to be a formidable competitor, consistently placing within the top five positions at the Indy 500. He finished in second place in both 1952 and 1953, signaling his potential for greater successes in the future. His aggressive yet calculated driving style earned him respect from fellow racers and fans alike.
Rathmann’s crowning achievement came in 1960 when he claimed victory at the Indianapolis 500. In a thrilling duel with fellow racer Rodger Ward, Rathmann secured the win after a grueling 200 lap race.
This victory cemented his legacy as one of the greatest racers of his time and remains a standout moment in the history of the Indianapolis 500. The 1960 race is also remembered as it featured the most lead changes of any race in the history of the Indy 500.
Later in his life Jim Rathmann would own a Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Melbourne, Florida. He became friends with astronauts Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, and Gordon Cooper – as a result he convinced GM President Ed Cole to establish a program that would supply two new cars to each astronaut per year. Most chose a Corvette for themselves and a family car for their wives.
This program resulted in the Corvette becoming the NASA astronaut’s car of choice, providing GM with invaluable publicity throughout the Apollo years.
Jim Rathmann Racing Products Inc was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1960. The company produced a series of advanced (for the era) go karts with duralumin aluminum alloy chassis, one of which is now on display in the Smithsonian.
The 1961 Rathmann Xterminator go-kart you see in this article is powered by a 87cc McCulloch MC–10 two-stroke single cylinder engine that’s fitted with a Palmini exhaust. It sends power to the rear axle by way of a chain final drive.
The kart has a single seat with red upholstery, a steering wheel, and pedals on either side of the steering column in standard go kart style. It rides on aluminum 3.50–4 front and 3.50–6 rear wheels shod with Firestone bias-ply slick tires, and it has dual rear scrub brakes.
If you’d like to read more about it or place a bid you can visit the listing on Bring a Trailer here, it’s being sold out of Fort Myers, Florida.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
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