Adaptive Racing

Greg Newman and Jonathan Beck work on modifications for a race kart

Students re-engineer indoor racing kart for disabled drivers MARIETTA, Ga. (April 4, 2016) —…

Georgia (Apr 4, 2016)

Students re-engineer indoor racing kart for disabled drivers

MARIETTA, Ga. (April 4, 2016) — When a disabled guest at Marietta-based Andretti Indoor Karting and Games was unable to drive one of the racing karts, the venue’s management team turned to Kennesaw State University’s Motorsports team for help.

Kennesaw State engineering students Greg Newman and Jonathan Beck took the challenge of developing adaptive technology for the go-karts, and they have been hard at work all semester to create hand controls to accommodate disabled patrons who cannot use their legs.  

“We needed a kart that could be quickly adapted for use – an ‘arrive and drive’ type kart,” said Samantha LaMagna, marketing manager for the entertainment venue, which opened last summer near the Marietta Campus. She had researched similar entertainment sites and talked with the kart manufacturer but couldn’t find a solution.

The Andretti kart works only with foot-based acceleration and braking systems. Newman and Beck replaced that system with paddle shifters, or hand controls, so disabled patrons can drive using only their hands.

The hand controls are used as the throttle to make the kart accelerate. The driver pulls the hand control, which sends a signal to the clutch that engages it, explained Newman, a mechanical engineering major in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.

“The challenge was how to mechanically control the brakes,” said Beck, a senior mechatronics major who has served on the race car team for four years. The kart’s brakes were designed to lock up when pushed, and the duo could not bypass the brakes entirely in their design.

They calculated torque, or how much force was needed to lock the brakes, and the pair was able to design the hand brakes around that number. They then needed to intersect the system and divert control to the paddle shifters. This was more economical and effective than utilizing a separate brake lever, Newman added. 

Their tool-less design could be added and removed quickly by Andretti Karting staff when needed. “The entire system stays as it is but, when needed, the hand controls can be easily connected and disconnected,” Beck said.

The Kennesaw State students will deliver their finished prototype kart to Andretti Karting later this month.


- Tiffany Capuano; photos by David Caselli 


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit