by Allan King
Most karters, particularly Queenslanders, would be aware of the passing last year of Alf Capri, a long time Queensland and IKC karter. Alf was active on the National scene for quite some years as well.
A sad event for sure, but now an opportunity has arisen where we can pay tribute to a Queensland karter who has literally given his life to karting, not just nationally but particularly in this state.
Alf was a kart dealer but also a karting gear collector. It was the stuff of legend just how much gear had been accumulated in Alf’s “collection”.
Just what is this special project? 29 Lives On!
Among those items was a kart that, I know, was particularly special to Alf, and, just special in its own right.
The kart is a 1973 Margay Cheetah twin engine kart bought specially by Alf and made to his order by the Margay factory in the United States. It’s fitted with Komet K88 engines and American GEM specially made exhaust pipes. I know it was special because in conversation with Alf he expressed the desire to “get it going again” especially when vintage karting came about.
Well, time and sickness intervened and prevented that from happening.
When I was alerted to the imminent sale of the equipment and parts in Alf’s “collection” my thoughts went immediately to that kart and how, it seemed to me, it would be tragic to see it leave the state, or worse, become a “hot rod” of some sort.
An idea developed that the kart should be restored and become a permanent tribute to not just Alf but the Ipswich Kart Club, the Capri family and particularly Maureen Capri, who undoubtedly, is a Queensland karting celebrity.
Alf’s children Cathy & Steven both raced quite successfully doubtless with the encouragement, preparation skills and urging of their Dad. Maureen has been described as the “best administrator Queensland karting ever had”. A stalwart of the old Qld Karting Council and Ipswich Kart Club, she is highly regarded by literally hundreds of karters nationally who came & went from the sport over many, many years.
Not only is Maureen keeping the Capri name in karting but she is still very active in the Ipswich Kart Club and long may it be so.
On to the project:
29 Lives On
I put a call out to some QVHK (Queensland Vintage Historic Karting) members who were very quick to agree with the plan to buy the kart, restore it & again see it run on track; maybe even with a Capri at the wheel.
This coming October 29th, IKC will be holding an annual tribute meeting called “The Capri Cup”. We will be preparing an exhibit of the Capri Margay #29 as part of our overall display at that meeting as a tribute to Alf and the Capri family.
A call to and discussion with IKC President saw “the project” very enthusiastically received and he was quick to offer the resources of IKC in support of the project. Thankyou Scott C we’re probably going to need it.
This presents a perfect opportunity for QVHK to work with IKC on a display of the Capri Margay at that meeting. The project has begun with members having retrieved the kart, removed the left side motor (I don’t know when it went through the flood but it did at some point), the right side motor was nowhere to be found, begun stripping it down in preparation for a full blown restoration to the standard Alf himself would have demanded.
One member has donated factory space, another has offered to strip & paint it, another is doing the engine restoration, another searching for a right hand K88 Komet and so it goes on.
Frankly, it’s a huge project so, many hands will be required to bring it to success.
I must say it’s rather good that IKC is so enthusiastically involved given the relationship QVHK has had with IKC over many years. Without the able assistance of IKC we could not have staged the two internationally acclaimed Australian Vintage Kart Prix in 2014 and again in 2017. Alf & Maureen Capri were officials at both of those major internationally attended meetings.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite any QVHK member, IKC member or anyone who knew Alf in his “glory days” to contact me with a view to getting involved or to just relate stories about Alf and karting.
I know first hand that he was a “competitive” guy so I’m sure there’s lots of stories to be told.
Many, many young & not so young people have been introduced to the sport by the man they called “Alfie”.
Accompanying this piece are some photos of the kart, engine & the progress so far.