build sheet

By restoring part of their past, three brothers honor their father's memory

The Story of "The Pylant Racer"

In 1952 Kenneth E. Pylant was a Dad to three young boys. A devout father, husband and craftsman, Kenneth decided to build his boys a go-cart racer. In his spare time, he collected old car and engine parts and with no guides or preset plans he built a racer body, masterfully assembled a system of pulleys, belts and rods as the steering and braking systems, and used a gas engine from a scrap washing machine as the power source. Finishing details of the Pylant Racer included a bright red paint job, yellow interior, fake exhaust pipes (assembled from kitchen drain pipes) and the number 5 emblazoned on the rear, symbolizing the five members of the Pylant family.

With the Racer capable of speeds up to 30 mph, the Pylant boys were certainly the envy of their neighborhood. In the summers, their Dad painted a white stripe around the Pugh Elementary school playground, and many hours were spent taking turns at the wheel.  

As the boys grew up, started their lives, and eventually had families of their own, the Racer was set aside. For 50 some years the Racer was stored, but was never lost. Kenneth Sr. passed away in 1993. Inspired by watching old home videos of their Dad, his boys decided to dig out the then rusty Racer from the family shed, and began working to give it a new life. Many hours were spent by the brothers on the project, and during the time they spent sanding the metal or refitting worn parts their thoughts also turned to the memory of their father. They reminisced about their Dad, and all the happy times he had spent with them. When they finished they had a beautifully restored Racer. They also had developed a new appreciation for their parents and family, and the many sacrifices that are made by parents that often go unappreciated by the young.

After the restoration was completed in 2004 the brothers began to honor their Dad's memory by showing the Racer at local car shows and weekend cruises in the Houston area. They found many others who truly appreciated the restored go-cart and the innovative mechanics their Dad created for the 1950's machine. Ken transported the Racer on his 1982 Custom El Camino.  In 2012, Donny began looking for a drivable ’49-’53 Chevy truck to take over the duty of transporting The Racer. In August 2016 he found a 1951 Chevy 1-ton flatbed dually in Fresno, California.  After flying to California and seeing it in person he knew this was the special truck he wanted to haul the Racer, and he purchased it.  Coincidentally the seller had an extensive car collection and was the first owner and builder of Ala Kart, a famous Roadster that won the AMBR Award in 1958 and 1959.  AMT even made a 1/24th scale model kit of Ala Kart. When he was just 10 years old Donny recalled that he had purchased and built that kit.  Is this where Six Degrees of Separation kicks in, or what? Now The Racer sits comfortably on the back of the ’51 Chevy, and Donny is pleased to have accomplished his goal of finding a new transport for the machine.

Transition to new transport

A long term goal of the brothers is to retire the Racer to a museum, where it will always be shiny and bright, just like their Dad's memory in their hearts. In 2006 the brothers met Leslie Kendall, Chief Historian for the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California at the Classy Chassy Car Show at the Houston NRG Stadium. Mr. Kendall was intrigued by the fact that the brothers still the Racer after all these years and were honoring their Dad by taking it to car shows and cruises to share it's history. In 2017, eleven years after initially talking with Mr. Kendall, he contacted the Pylant Brothers about a new exhibit at the Petersen Museum. The exhibit is “Sidewalk Speedsters, The Grownup World of Children’s Cars”. He indicated his desire for the Racer to be a part of that exhibit.  The Pylant Brothers decided that it would be a privilege and an honor to have their Racer exhibited at the Petersen Museum and soon it was off to Los Angeles, where it will be on display from December 16th, 2017, to November of 2018.

Racer at Peterson
Racer Exhibit

Including The Racer in this prestigious exhibit is the ultimate tribute to their Dad, Kenneth Earl Pylant.

After the temporary exhibit at the Peterson Museum ends The Racer will be back on the car show and cruise schedule being hauled by Don's 1951 Chevy 1-ton dually flatbed, and maybe, just maybe, sometimes on the El Camino.

Please see many more photos on the PICTURES page.