Chantelle Wehrheim

The French Restoration

Father-Son duo scour world for vintage Tony Kart passion project.

Cedric (left) and Jason Vian with their (almost) finished restoration of the classic 1998 Tony Kart Extreme.

The win. The camaraderie. The competition. The smell of racing fuel. There are approximately 1.8 million aspects to love about the sport of karting. (Trust us, we've done the research). For father/son duo Cedric and Jason Vian, it's a combination of passions and the symbiosis of bonding that seems to only occur as a father passes a son a greasy wrench. Cedric, a DJ in France, always had a passion for Motorsport, participating in MX in France and Belgium, even dabbling in some Enduro racing; however a love of history and vintage cars lead him to proposing to Jason, a karter and communications & marketing student, a rebuild of a 1998 Tony Kart Extreme. After sharing, back and forth, old videos online of old 100cc era racing, the combination of passions seemed, to Cedric, as the perfect project.

It's a tale as old as racing itself: “Oh well, racing was so much better back in ‘The Day,'” you hear it all the time, so what better way than to find out?

After interning for six months at Motul, Jason is currently at the Winfield Racing School in Le Castellet interning in communications and marketing. Utilizing his eye for photography, his major, and experience in racing to pave way for a career that won't seem much like work. Racing on the weekends, with his father as his mechanic & mentor, he drives a Kosmic chassis in the X30 Senior category. It seems this 24 year old has figured out what takes some people decades to come to: what he wants to do with his life.

What better piece to photograph than the rebuild of this historic kart? So, after Cedric purchased the Tony Kart Extreme chassis from French classified site, “Le Bon Coin,” the Vian men took the 600km trip from their town of Avignon to Nemours. The chassis was in bad shape to say the least, but the challenge had already been accepted. And the challenges continued.

Photo: Jason Vian

As pictured above, to the knowing eye, the rebuild isn't a completely authentic restoration as finding all the original parts proved to be difficult. The main goal, however, was to keep the spirit of the twenty year old kart in tact, as well as trying to recreate the authentic driving experience as well as possible. Jason recalls they spent a significant time searching for the vintage parts. They eventually found the plastic kit in Spain. They got creative with the sticker kit, which ultimately came from a Mitox Tony Kart chassis from the 90's. “Those stickers were beautiful and in great shape, so we were happy to use them,” recalls Jason.

The rebuilt parts:

  • the brake system
  • bearings
  • and all chromed parts

The new ones:

  • the Tillet seat
  • the fuel tank
  • the floor tray,
  • and others.

Further stickers came from Sticker Bucket, an English site. The kart is truly a cocktail of European finds. From endless hours scouring the internet for parts, to the time in the garage rebuilding the kart, the kart was a passion project from the beginning.

Now when it came to the heavily artillery, the Vortex VL 98 engine, which also came from thorough rounds of searching through the classifieds, the trust of the rebuild was set in the hands of Ludovic Miretti from LM Karting. He is very familiar with this type of motor and was obviously intrigued by the boys' project.

The chassis was in rough condition in the beginning ... Photo: Jason Vian
.. but through the Vian's patience, hard work, and dedication, the classic kart got to see the track once again. Photo: Jason Vian

After a sandblast and a powder coat…the Tony Kart was complete.

But how does it drive? Well, that might just be another challenge. Without a silencer for the exhaust and a rear bumper, the new-old Tony Kart hasn't been taken out for that first test drive…yet. With all the fun being in the re-building process itself…why not drag it out just a little bit longer?

In the mean time, after all the hard restoration work, it seemed the rebuild re-inspired Cedric himself, who decided to begin his own kart racing career, racing for four months already and finished fourth his first race. And until those final touches get applied to the 1998 Tony Kart Extreme, the Viann men continue to bond on race weekends, and are surely looking for their next project together.

If you'd like to see more from the rebuild, as well as more of Jason's photography work, you can follow the Viann boys on their Instagram pages:

More photos

Vortex VL 98
Vortex VL 98 engine. Photo: Jason Vian
Tony Kart Extreme rear end
A look at the rear end of the restored Tony Kart Extreme. Photo: Jason Vian
Tony Kart Extreme master cylinder
A detailed look at the master cylinder. Photo: Jason Vian
Tony Kart Extreme front-end and steering wheel
A look towards the front of the Extreme. Photo: Jason Vian
Ibea L2 carburetor
Ibea L2 carburetor. Photo: Jason Vian
Tony Kart Extreme braking system restored
The original Tony Kart Extreme braking system restored. Photo: Jason Vian