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The Mighty Midgets Often referred to as the purest form of racing these "mighty midgets" are a racing history teasure.



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Old 03-02-2012, 10:22 AM   #1
cemar
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Default Were we a little crazy back then?

Safety for everyone was not of much concern back in the days.
Not for officials, fans, crewman or drivers.
Look how close to the action "everyone" is in this photo.
What were we thinking?
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:34 PM   #2
Vinnee
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

I remember the drivers at Lakeside Speedway wearing the white pants and
t-shirt. Seems like most of them wore hush puppies or loafers for shoes.
The rule book stated that drivers must wear belts with their pants.
Amazingly I don't remember anyone getting burned back then.
That would have been late 50's thru the 70's. I don't remember when they finally required fire suits.
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Old 03-02-2012, 03:37 PM   #3
RShaw
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

People don't change much. Were it not for the wire catch fence, and a platoon of crowd control people, around any race track in the country, I can practically guarantee the track walls would be lined with people seated on them dangling their feet over the track.

Certainly the general atmosphere "back in the day" was much more relaxed that it is today. Liability lawsuits have made track owners and promoters aware that they have to take some measures to protect the public against their own stupidity, and the restrictions we see at tracks today are the natural result of that.

I can remember attending an AHRA National drag race at Century 21 raceway east of Denver, in about 1969. By the end the day crowd control had all but vanished, and the top fuel final was run with spectators lining the track on both sides, all the way from the Christmas tree to the timing lights, with their toes on the asphalt.
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:48 PM   #4
cemar
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

Just want you to all know, I'm not saying this driver was crazy or did not care about safety, just did not know where to put this.
Only "midget" driver I can remember we raced against that drove with one leg.
I say midget driver because I did see a stock car driver once with one leg.
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Old 03-02-2012, 09:59 PM   #5
Jerry Lee
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

Fascinating, Cemar! Never knew of a one legged driver. We had a one armed driver here in Colorado named Poot Webb who did well with a few special controls back in the '60's & '70's, but I've never heard of someone with one leg racing. Also had a guy run Figure 8's with one arm in a full arm cast (Terry Martinez at Englewood in '74), and won a trophy dash! That's really some determination. What was this Midget driver's name, and clue us in on a few more details about him if you can.

Always loved to watch those old films of the brave flagmen who would almost jump in front of a speeding car to "make sure" the drivers could see which flag they were waving. That's some grapes!

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Old 03-03-2012, 08:17 AM   #6
Mitch G.
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

One of the winningest drivers of the 40's was Bill Schindler, he only had one leg, he raced, and won in midgets, sprints, Indy cars, dirt and pavement. His career spanned from the 1930's to 1958 he was killed in a sprint car at Allentown, PA. In the 1940's in California, Jerry Curry was a one legged midget driver, at a race in San Diego he crashed over a fence out of sight of the crowd. Curry drove with a false leg in place, it had to be removed before he could get out of the car, so as he was helped from the car, a crew member carried his leg, over his shoulder like a rifle, as Curry hopped toward the pits. This shocked many people in the grandstands, as you can imagine. I think the driver in that picture, is Schindler, he was most famous as the driver of the "Caruso Offy" midget on the east coast.
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Old 03-03-2012, 03:28 PM   #7
cemar
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

Yes you are correct, that is Shindler.

Here are somemore strange looking midgets.
Anyone remember the term we gave the car in the first photo?
We called them "turrent-top", as the canopy came completly over the driver.
This one was driven in 1948 by the developer of the turrent, Doc Shanebrook.

Now look close at the wheels of the Powerlube racer.
Yep, those are wooden spoked wheels.
This driver was the first ever midget champion back in 1934 winning the California Pacific Coast (Los Angeles) title.
No, we didn't even see this car let alone race against it.

More later.
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Old 03-03-2012, 08:46 PM   #8
JThur01
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Lee View Post
Fascinating, Cemar! Never knew of a one legged driver.
Actually Jerry, there have been a few one legged drivers. Bill Schindler has been mentioned and two more that come to mind are Al Miller (the one from the 30's) and Cal Niday. All three raced in the Indianapolis 500.

Even though he was from Turlock, California, Niday started his racing career in Denver.

There have been some at local level around the country as well. In can think of at least a couple stock car racers that raced with one leg.
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Old 03-03-2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mitch G. View Post
In the 1940's in California, Jerry Curry was a one legged midget driver, at a race in San Diego he crashed over a fence out of sight of the crowd. Curry drove with a false leg in place, it had to be removed before he could get out of the car, so as he was helped from the car, a crew member carried his leg, over his shoulder like a rifle, as Curry hopped toward the pits. This shocked many people in the grandstands, as you can imagine.
Mitch, the story you tell is one I have seen several times, seemingly for every one legged driver. Now, it may have happened, but since it seems to be repeated for almost every one legged driver, with slight variations in the story. I lean more to it being folklore.
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Old 03-04-2012, 10:09 AM   #10
Mitch G.
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Default Re: Were we a little crazy back then?

Possible, It's from Jack C. Fox's book "The Mighty Midgets", which was published in 1976, Fox being the ultimate midget historian of the time. I'd be more apt to rely on Fox's printed version, but he may have been repeating an old wives tale as well. A bunch of underfunded midget teams formed the Southern California Midget Racing Association (SCMRA), rival midget clubs referred to them as the "Southern Crippled Men" as the star drivers were Jerry Curry (lost his leg to Burgers Syndrome as a teenager), Speed Boardman (cross eyed), Dick Uggen (wall eyed), Joe DeHart (severe limp due to badly damaged leg from many past motorcycle wrecks). This info was in Fox's book, and led into the story of Curry limping off without his leg.
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