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Before Ingles - The Maytag Toy Racer

Published By James McMahon     August 10, 2016    
How the origins of karting date back to a time before Art Ingles' and Lou Borelli's Kart #1


**Republished with Consent from Original Author, Patrick Childs**


1915 - 1955 The Maytag Toy Racers


In 1915, the Maytag Company introduced the Model 43 Washing Machine, powered by a one-cylinder  asoline engine, for farms and homes without electricity. These engines were built for Maytag by the Elgin Wheel and Engine Works, in Elgin, IL. Maytag bought out the Elgin RedeMotor engines in 1916, and renamed them the Maytag MultiMotor. During the early 1920‟s, as a teenager in Newton Iowa, Fred Maytag, II, the son of the company founder, built a wooden-framed toy racer, powered by a Model 82 MultiMotor. Soon Maytag dealers were making small MultiMotor powered cars for their own children, often styled after the Indianapolis 500 racers of the day, and others also found the MultiMotor useful as a power source for their own home built racers.


See also: Maytag Toy Racer Gallery

With the onset of electrification, local dealers would exchange new electric motors for the MultiMotors that had been powering washing machines. Many dealers found a convenient method of disposing of their surplus MultiMotors was to encourage the construction of toy racers. Local dealers often supported the MultiMotor powered toy racers, by providing free decals for the cars, having them featured in parades, and holding race events. By 1931 Regional Maytag distributors were bringing national attention to these Maytag toy racers. A Fox Movietone News short showed Maytag powered racers racing and parading in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park.

In 1932, the Winston Corporation, of Joliet, IL, became the first large scale manufacturer of Maytag powered toy racers. Winston Racers where sold to Maytag dealers and carnivals, as well as to individuals. In early 1933 a group of dealers in Virginia and West Virginia sponsored a series of races using six Winston Racers which were geared to achieve a high speed of around twenty miles an hour, regularly drawing between four and five thousand spectators. Winston Racers became the center of attraction at the carnival rides in the Chicago Century of Progress Fair in 1933. The Maytag News promoted the Winston Racer as a marketing tool for dealers and salesmen. During the period from 1934 to 1941, the Maytag Company built 498 Maytag Toy Racers. The first models were powered by the Model 92 MultiMotor. Starting in 1938, they were powered by the Model 72 Twin cylinder.

Plans for a Maytag Sidewalk Runabout, from the May 1938 issue of Mechanics Illustrated. With their production efforts entirely dedicated to supporting the United States war effort, Maytag ceased Toy Racer production at the end of 1941. Maytag continued to build gasoline powered washing machines powered by the Model 72 Twin cylinder until 1952. In 1937 a Los Angeles based group of Maytag Toy Racers, wanting to build faster, more powerful, yet safer, steel-framed cars split off to form the origins of what is now known as Quarter Midget racing.

After World War II, a new generation of racecars was introduced. Clubs were formed and these organizations instituted standardized safety features to protect the children who participated in the competitions. By the late 1950s, forty companies and many independent garages were building Quarter Midget racing cars. Today almost every American born IndyCar and NASCAR driver can say they got their start racing in a Quarter Midget racer.

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