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Once in a Lifetime | Visiting Antonio Bosio Tony Kart, where everything started

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VISITING TONY KART, WHERE EVERYTHING STARTED

02 February 2017
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Tony Bosio, the founder of Tony Kart, passed away in June of 2015. But workshop premises in Prevalle, the original headquarters of the company, are still there. Splendid and immovable, just like the days in which it all started...

For people in their thirties or younger, “Tony Kart” is just a brand, as they say in marketing. Yet, in the beginning, “Tony Kart” was a nick name. It was how everyone called Antonio Bosio, a brilliant gentleman from the little Italian town of Prevalle. In no time, town folks took to calling him Tony and turned his passion for karts into a sort of last name. Put the two together and you get “Tony Kart”.
Tony, born in 1923, loves mechanics and speed. And he has a gift that goes above and beyond the elementary school diploma that marks the end of his studies. In the ‘50s, his gift takes shape in the construction of a kart, his first. The inspiration comes from a photograph from an American magazine. He is confident, because he has already built something similar: the home-made “emergency vehicle” mounted on four Vespa wheels that he uses to help broken-down tractors in the farms around where he lives.

Now, building a kart from scratch is not exactly easy. First of all, you need a chassis. No problem! Metal tubes, some welding, and there you go. You also need brakes. Again, said and done: Tony shapes molds, melts aluminum, pours it in to his “shells” and comes up with brake calipers. And on with the rest: “Tony Kart” turns his three-story shop into an inventor’s lab, where every component is carefully thought out and crafted with painstaking precision, with help from local kids eager to learn a trade.
One of them is “Cecco Winkart”. He starts working in Tony Kart in 1977, he is just 16. “We did everything by hand,” he tells us. “We’d cast rims, brake pads, you name it! Other than bearings, he made everything! For the most part, we built 125s. Then, in late 1983 - early 1984, they started making 100’s too, when Robazzi (Roberto, current owner of the OTK Kart Group, the evolution of the Tony Kart company, Ed.) and Cancarini (Carlo, Robazzi’s ex-partner, Ed.) joined the shop. Tony started out with a replica of an American go-kart and little by little evolved it into a modern kart. The first time I came here, his mom kicked me out; she said the kindergarten was further up the road. But I came back in the afternoon and Antonio took me in: ‘come here, kiddo’. That’s how I started working for him”.
And how were the races? “We’d travel with the Giulia. We’d grab fruit crates, boxes, lids, whatever, and pack’em up with screws, pads… then hit the road! No karts, because we only did servicing. But when we brought them, we’d tie them to the roof.” In other words, empty pockets, but plenty of smarts. This is the magic mix that Antonio Bosio conjured up in his Prevalle shop.
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