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Kitty Grabs Back: Making a Medal Winning Electric Go Kart

Ever wanted to turn a kid’s toy car into a Power Racing Series gold medal wining, 24V go kart? Donald Bell, creator and host of the excellent Maker Project Lab weekly wrap-up of the maker community, decided to do just that, and he documented it in glorious detail. Donald, a first-time Power Racing Series competitor, took home an impressive two gold medals, a silver, and a bronze from this year’s Power Racing event at Bay Area Maker Faire 2017!

If you’ve never seen or heard of Power Racing Series, start here and come back. It looks like crazy fun, right? People take a second-hand kid’s ride-on car (or build one from scratch), turn them into full-on electric go karts, and race each other for fun and glory.

Together with expert fabricator Jordan Bunker, Donald began with a $20 Craigslist Hello Kitty toy car find. They then proceeded to replace pretty much everything but the stylish, pink body with a scratch-built steel chassis frame,  10″ Harbor Freight tires, LiPo batteries from an old Nissan Leaf, 24V 500W electric scooter motors, and a steering column scavenged from a junk bicycle. It’s a terrific build, made on an impressively low parts budget of ~$460.

Here’s the Kitty’s shell, fully stripped down. The gaffer tape outline on the ground is to help me visualize the outermost border of the design and where the axles sit.

Power racing rules dictate that we have sturdy front and rear bumpers. We welded on some angle iron and wrapped them in pool noodles. The bars out to the front bumper also included two bolts welded upright that slot into the Kitty’s plastic body to hold it in place.

One last technical requirement to address was securing the battery pack to the chassis. We did this with a series of bolted L-brackets.

Congrats on the win, and thanks for sharing these extensive build notes — now I’m inspired to try to build one of my own!


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