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-   -   Rise and fall of the IMCA Midget (http://autoracingmemories.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2734)

cemar 05-12-2020 07:25 AM

Rise and fall of the IMCA Midget
 
My father was a pioneer in this class (1940's-1970's), winning hundreds of events across the U.S., mostly going with the outlaw spirit. Never ran a full season with any sanction.
I wish to start telling "true" stories of parts of his 4 decades of Midget racing.
This thread will be about the rise and fall of the IMCA Midget division, later changed to Compact Sprints (big mistake).
As many understand the 40's and 50's were the glory years for the Midget class. IMCA waited way to long to cash in. It wasn't until 1962 that they included the cars.
Only 9 events were run that first season and they were all on 1/2 mile tracks spread out 100's of miles apart.
52 total drivers ran at least one event in '62 and I think that is why IMCA "had" to run all over the place as there was not enough talent in most regions of the country left. The end result however was only a few drivers were regular followers of the tour.
The point battle was a good one however with K.C. ace Carl Williams trailing Iowa's Dick Ritchie by 25 points going into the final event at Muskogee OK. Carl put on a one man show that day (including the main event win) doing everything he needed to leave with Championship. More to come as I want to keep these short stories.
Cemar

webby 05-12-2020 03:08 PM

Re: Rise and fall of the IMCA Midget
 
Awesome stuff. Thank you for sharing!

cemar 05-12-2020 06:01 PM

Re: Rise and fall of the IMCA Midget
 
Very welcome, maybe we can get some folks to come back.
Back to the first year of IMCA Midgets.
Here is the crazy circuit you had to follow.
Fargo N.D.(2 day show).
Austin Minn.
Down to southern Ia. at Oskaloosa.
Back up to Owatonna Minn.
Way down to Sedalia Mo.
Then up to Northern Ia. at Spencer.
Turn around and south again to Hutchinson Kansas.
Then for the final clear down to Muskogee.
Might not look that bad today but back in '62, pretty much all Midget drivers were pulling single axle trailers behind a short bed pickup in my Father's case it was a station wagon.
Not much room to carry any big supply of parts.
Again, these were all big 1/2 mile tracks (25 to 30 lappers plus time trials and heats) that took their toll on mostly home made race cars.
Anyone want to take a guess at what future Indy 500 Vet. stopped in for one of these IMCA shows (Dallas Garman owned Offy) and went home the winner?
He set a track record at the track in doing so.
Trust me, many of you have talked many times of this open wheel legend.
Cemar

cemar 05-12-2020 09:42 PM

Re: Rise and fall of the IMCA Midget
 
I believe it was the one and only time this driver ever ran an IMCA Midget event.
Arnie Knepper, at age 32 came to the Sedalia 1/2 mile to capture the 30 lap A Main. Out of the $2,400 purse he went home with $415. Again, this was 1962. Fast time for the race was around 25 seconds. That would be an average lap speed of around 70mph. I think Arnie started his Indy 500 career 2 years later.

4 drivers ran all 9 events that first season.
Carl Williams, Eddie McVay and Howard House, all from Mo. as Iowan Dick Ritchie was the 4th.
I think IMCA was looking for exposure this first year for drivers and not as much as a more regional type tour for a fan following. You know the old and true saying, the more drivers the more fans in the stands.
They were looking for an area with the most drivers.
They found it as you will see when IMCA went the regional route for the second season (in their own backyard).
Cemar


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