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Old 04-17-2009, 04:35 PM   #1
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Post Chuck Mauro

- Written by Rick Wasilko

After my first visit with the Legendary Chuck Mauro in 2005, we decided to get together again in late 2006 just to see what Chuck has been 'up to' and how his Midget Number 5 project has progressed since May of 2005. As you can see here, the (now) 90 year old builder and owner of some of the most awesome open wheel racecars in the history of Open Wheel Racing in the United States has progressed very nicely.

Not to give away any 'secrets' here, but Chuck is now working on a very new, fresh project. The restoration and modern day upgrade to the teammate car we see here of his prized 'Esmeralda,' the number 55 team car to this one driven by Bert McNeese.

As always and to this day, anything Chuck builds is clean enough to 'eat spaghetti off of' and is the best equipment to show up at the track.

With that in mind, let's go back a 'couple of' years, and take a look at the Mauro Racing Legacy.

The following was originally written back in 2005, and holds the test of time.

The Mauro Racing Legacy of Colorado...

" When my mind drifts to all things racing ( when doesn’t it? ) and I hear the town of Albuquerque, NM mentioned, I automatically think of the Unser family, just like when, through the course of conversation Denver is mentioned, I think of another famous racing family, the Mauro’s. Though both family’s were/are firmly entrenched in the world of open wheel motorsports, and the two families approached racing with differing results from different paths taken over the years, both, enjoyed much success none the less. The Mauro family is truly a dynasty in the history of racing in Colorado. And at this time on Auto Racing Memories, we’ll concentrate on some of their accomplishments in the world of motorsports over the years.

Chuck Mauro was born and raised in North Denver, and is the last surviving brother of 6, five of which were involved in motorsports on a local, national, and even international level. One of the Mauro Midgets from the 1970’s was placed in a museum in Australia after having been driven by Dave Strickland Sr. very successfully on some of that countries toughest Midget tracks.

Roger Mauro was the promoter responsible for bringing many of the RMMRA and USAC Midget events to the great state of Colorado over the years, starting back as far as the 1960’s, and was also the man behind the Roger Mauro Classic Midget auto races that were held for many years at what was then known as Raceland and later, Rocky Mountain Speedway’s 1/2 and 3/8th’s mile dirt tracks respectively. Roger, a local American Motors Rambler, and later, Chrysler dealer in Denver, also owned open wheeled race cars over the years, with Frank Peterson appointed as the care taker of those cars.

Johnny, was Colorado’s first born and raised driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. He accomplished that feat in 1947 driving an Alfa Romeo he purchased just days before the event and ended up finishing 8th. Two of Johnny’s cars that he competed with at the speedway, reside ( to this day ) in the hallowed displays of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. Some of Johnny’s other achievements in racing, included driving in a total of 14 Pikes Peak Auto Hill Climb’s, coming very close to winning that event several times. He also competed in and won the first compact car endurance race staged in the United States. That was a 6 hour event held at Colorado’s Continental Divide Raceways in 1959. As it turned out, that race was the forerunner to what eventually became, after several years and many twists and turns to the SCCA rule books, the wildly popular Trans-Am road race series of the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. Johnny was the first inductee into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978.

Lou and Ralph Mauro, were right there all along, wrenching and doing their part to contribute to the successes of their siblings.

Then of course, there is Chuck. Chuck Mauro has built, owned and maintained some of the most successful open wheel, Midget, Sprint and “Big Cars” of the ‘50’s-‘90’s. Many of these cars were piloted by some of the nation’s top drivers that competed at any track, anywhere. Period. In a life story that continues to evolve, ( that’s 90 years to you and me ), volumes could be written about Chuck Mauro. Thanks to Mr. Mauro, who graciously entrusted me with his photo collection for this new time machine of sorts, Auto Racing Memories. Because of his generosity and trust, we can all take a trip down memory lane and review some grand times in the history of open wheel racing related to Colorado.

Chuck told me that his dad used to tell him, “Always drive the best”!

The year was 1936 and with his father’s spoken words in mind, Chuck set out to find and build his first race car. It was a 1929 Ford Model A that he purchased from Pioneer Auto Wrecking in downtown Denver for $12.50. ( and yes, the decimal point is in the right place ) Chuck took that Model A and turned it into a roadster type race car that was popular in the Denver area at that time. In his first outing, Chuck drove his creation on the track at Derby, CO and won the main event and $25.00! Not bad, considering the track was a dirt surfaced obstacle course that crossed a creek, had hills and valleys, and through all of this, was only about a 1/2 mile in length. Near the end of that 1936 season, Chuck had competed against the Nebraska champion of these same type of events, in a match race and won. He was crowned the “Champion of Nebraska and Colorado”. In 1944 Chuck bought his first sprint type car, a “Cragar”, from Pop Myers and proceeded to strip and rebuild it the way he saw fit. By 1945, the car was ready to hit the track and Chuck raced his “Cragar” in Pueblo, CO and at tracks in Wyoming and Nebraska.

A couple of years after this, the Mauro’s made their way to Pikes Peak for the annual 12.6 mile “Race to the Clouds” auto hill climb. This, at a time when Louis Unser basically owned, not just the Peak, but the whole dang mountain. In other words, he was just plain unbeatable. Jimmy Good, a Midget car driver from nearby Colorado Springs, was chosen to be the man to take that first Chuck Mauro owned sprint car up the sometimes treacherous mountain “ race course “. Things didn’t quite go as planned though and Jimmy slid the car off the side of the road and rolled it over in a ditch. The good news was, he escaped serious injury. Things could only go up ( so to speak ) from there right? Right.

As a family, the Mauro’s started making trips to the famed 2 1/2 mile track paved with bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and met the challenge with relative successes. By the 1950’s, Chuck had owned quite a few Sprint Cars and Midgets, and by the late 1960’s into the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s, his winning cars had been driven by some of the most renowned local and national drivers to ever turn a lap in an open wheel race car any where in the country. I asked Chuck to name some of the drivers he had behind the wheel and at the controls of his cars over the years. He immediately rambled off in no particular order, ”Dana Carter, Jeff Haywood, Jimmy LaManna, Jim Beckley, Ed Jackson, Larry Rice, Mike Nish, Buz Tapply, Dave Strickland ( Sr. ), Ted Foltz, Kevin Olsen, Stan Fox, Earl Kouba, Jimmy Good and Gene Pastor”.

One car that Chuck is particularly proud of was the one he sold to Ryan Newman. That was in 1993, and it was Ryan Newman’s first Midget race car. This of course was one of the cars that helped propel “The Rocket”, to his current status on NASCAR’s top circuit, the “SPRINT CUP” series.

These days, Chuck has restored his Chevy II powered Midget number 5 (SHOWN ABOVE) for exhibition events of the different vintage clubs staged at various tracks. He was telling me the other day how happy he was that he tore down the quick change rear end of this car, because he found a broken tooth on the ring gear. It just wouldn’t have been proper to show up at the track with a Chuck Mauro car in that condition! The chassis has been powder coated, the engine is built and the body painted that famous “Mauro white”. The traditional spun gold leaf #5 outlined in red, along with the names of his brothers, Johnny, Lou, Fred, Ralph and Roger are all there, listed as “In Memory Of” and were applied by long time Denver sign painter and race car driver, Pete Brandenburg.

After seeing this car, you can’t help, but to carry away with you, a fresh reminder and major slice of a sizeable Colorado racing memory. Just looking at it, you have to know those words of Chuck Mauro’s father are still at work, “Always drive ( and in Chuck’s case, build ) the best”!

Thank you, Chuck. ",

Proud owner, builder, and driver of this little hot rod, Chuck Mauro. This is the first race car that Chuck built, and is the same car he drove to the 1936 "Championship of Nebraska and Colorado". There was an article written about Chuck in the Derby, CO newspaper on the subject of his winning ways that year. This photo is from that article.

Chuck says this photo was taken in 1938 before the guys headed back to Indianapolis for the 500. I'm not sure what the boys did once they got back there to Indy, since Chuck said they didn't yet have a race car to pit for. But, it sure appears that they were stylin', what ever they did! ( L-R ) Lannes Lossaso, Ernie Valente, Lou Mauro, Al Thomas, Chuck Mauro.

Chuck Mauro's crewman, Al Nicoletti, with Chuck's first "Cragar Big Car" in 1944. A work in progress.

Chuck Mauro with his newly created finished project.

This photo was taken in Colorado Springs in 1944, just after Chuck had completed the re-build on his "Cragar" he purchased from Pop Myers. The names of the gentlemen standing to the left and right of Chuck are unknown. Chuck raced this car at Pueblo, and at tracks in Wyoming and Nebraska. It's also the same one that Jimmy Good put in the ditch up on Pike's Peak (see below).

Here's the photo of the Jimmy Good wreck at Pikes Peak from the Denver Post. I think the credit reads 'Wirephoto by Floyd H. McCall'.

The result of that same car after being pulled from the ditch. Ouch.

Here is Chuck Mauro at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, circa 1944-1945. Good crowd.

Owner Chuck Mauro (L) and driver Jim Good, with the #4 Veteran's Upholstery Special. Beautiful photo!

Don Daly from Denver, CO in the #5 Chuck Mauro Plyon Q-X Junior special. This car was a D.O. McDowell, 213 cu. in., 4 cylinder, Ford-based, motor... "big car".

BCRA President ( at one time, I believe ) George Brewer presents a trophy to Chuck Mauro in the 1950's.

I never knew there was an adult division that raced Quarter Midgets, but here, Chuck Mauro is shown after winning a trophy dash at Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Since the car is equipped with a roll bar, this must have been in the early 1960's. Instead of running an Offenhauser, according to the little "mascot" painted on the body, this was a "Mousen Hauser". Cute. The sponsor of course is Roger Mauro RAMBLER.

This car is what eventually became the #5 sprinter with the bolt on cage. ( Keep scrolling down, You'll see it! ) It is a "Shililah" (pronounced, she-lie-la), and was powered by a 255 Offy. The car was originally owned and driven by Gordon Herring. Tragically, Mr. Herring was fatally injured while racing this car. Harry Conklin then bought it, and Chuck Mauro later purchased it from Harry Conklin. This photo was from the '50's, and the car was simply known as a "big car".

From the early '60's (perhaps 1963, notice the Rambler parked in the driveway), standing ( L-R ), Chuck Mauro, Roger Mauro, and of course, the great Ed Jackson, sitting in the open cockpit of this #5 BCRA sprint car. This was a McDowell, sponsored by "Roger MAURO RAMBLER".

This, Chuck says is his favorite photo of his machines, "I used to ask people if they wanted to see my four cars. They'd look at the picture, and at first glance they'd only see three! I used to have to always point out the fourth one, and then they'd laugh." Chuck also added that this photo has been hanging at B & F Tire Co. in Wheatridge, CO almost since the day LeRoy Byers shot it! That's quite a few years! The cars from left to right and top to bottom are, BCRA "Sprint/Big Car", Midget, Quarter Midget, and 1/25 Scale Midget! The great Eddy Jackson drove two of these cars.

Here is "Shililah" that we saw a couple of photos back (when it was numbered 54), now with a roll cage mounted to it. We can see it's now sponsored by ROGER MAURO CHRYSLERVILLE, U.S.A. Standing (L-R) Ed Jackson, Dion Brockett (mechanic), Chuck Mauro.

From what has to be the early '70's, this great photo by Leroy Byer's showcases the 270 CID Offy powered sprint car #5. Standing (L-R) Chuck Mauro, mechanic Dion Brockett, and of course, Ed Jackson at the wheel. I remember when roll cages ( this one is a bolt on ) started to show up on Midgets and Sprint Cars of the day for safety reasons. I can also remember some open wheel "purists" grumbling how roll cages were going to take away some of the excitement of "open cockpit" racing. If anything, they probably contributed to it! Of course nowadays, Sprint Cars, and Midgets are anything but 'open cockpit' vessels of speed.

This fine looking ride of Chuck Mauro's is from the 1970's. It's evident by this photo, that the roll cage is now a part of the design of the chassis, not just a "bolt on" after thought. And also notice, the power plant is now a 327 CID fuel injected Chevrolet. Things were a changin' in open wheel racing, where Offy's once ruled, Chevy's where now starting to take a strong hold. The sponsor on this Mauro ride, was B & F Racing Treads of Wheatridge, CO.

This is Chuck Mauro's #5 Edmund's Chassis Chevy powered sprinter that he ended up selling to Frank Marcello from 1974. Chuck said, "Johnny Parsons drove this car back east in a big race & finished 5th with it, the first time the car was on the track". Notice the sponsor on the car is Marcello Steel Co.

In this 1970’s pic from Leroy Byers taken at Lakeside Speedway in Colorado, we see Rick Montgomery in the ‘Schlieger Bros. Chevy II’, Tommy Frantz painted number 22, leading Eddie Jackson, 5, and Don ‘Spyder’ Anderson now driving the red number 10. Just a little bit of an ‘aside’ here, but notice how Spyder fits in this midget! The guy was so tall his elbows and arms would rub his legs every time he would drive through the corners. On a 1/5th mile track, THAT was quite often!

In this famous Leroy Byers photo from Lakeside Speedway during a USAC Midget, Roger Mauro promoted event of the 1970’s we see the midgets of Johnny Parsons Jr. in the 82X, Eddie Jackson in the 15, (notice the '1' that makes the car number 15, is made from electrical tape) Patton in the 35 and Danny Caruthers going 4 deep in turns 3 and 4. Awesome stuff!

Ed Jackson picking up another trophy and a bottle of bubbly after winning a main event in one of Chuck Mauro's VW powered Midgets, the #5 LEE'S BIKE SHOPS Special. After Bobby Olivero had so much success with his yellow # 76 "V-Dub" of the '70's, the VW became the most popular engine in Midget racing for several years.

Another great looking #5 Sprint Car from Chuck Mauro, the TOMI'S PASTA HOUSE sponsored Dave Strickland (Sr.) driven Chevy-powered Edmunds. Very Kool! So clean.

Dave Strickland (Sr.) 'Course back in the day' we all only knew him as Dave Strickland.

Dave Strickland also drove one of Chuck Mauro’s Midgets…this one. (There’s that garage door.)

This is a nice photo of ( L-R ) Johnny Mauro, long time USAC, World of Outlaws and apparently American Indy Car Series flagman, Johnny Shipman, and Chuck Mauro. We think this shot was taken out at the then new Raceland, in the early 1980's some time, perhaps 1982. It kind of was a show in itself, watching Johnny Shipman flag a race, I don't know if the drivers could see it from their cars, but you knew the green flag was comin' because Johnny would always raise his leg and stomp his foot just prior to throwing the GREEN!

Chuck Mauro being interviewed for one of ESPN's "Thursday Night Thunder" races back in the late '80's or early '90's.

This is a very nice photo of Chuck Mauro and his prized "ESMERALDA" Cosworth-Vega powered Midget #5, from the early 1980's. This car held the 1-lap track record at Las Vegas Nevada's Craig Road Speedway when that track closed. Among other's, Dave Strickland, Sr. and Eddy Jackson drove this car. Chuck said he witnessed the best race of his life when this car competed against Wally Pankratz side by side, open wheel to open wheel, for 30 laps one time at CRS, and neither driver touched so much as a wheel of the other driver.

Here is Utah's Mike Nish in Chuck Mauro's #5 "ESMERALDA" Cosworth-Vega powered Midget waiting for a "little help" from one of the support vehicles at Nevada's Craig Road Speedway. This photo was taken at the open wheel, open comp "extravaganza" that the track hosted in February 1982.

Here is an interesting photo of Chuck Mauro's #5 Chuck couldn't recall who was driving at the time this photo was taken. We think this may be Robby Flock?

The Montgomery Wards store at the Lakeside Shopping Center had an auto show of sorts at some point during the eighties, and Chuck Mauro with his white # 5 VW Midget was there. This car was driven by Jim Beckley and flew the JOLLY RANCHER CANDIES livery.

Chuck Mauro maintains that this is the best car he ever built. I'm not clear if it is "Esmeralda" or not, although it certainly appears to be Cosworth-Vega powered. Chuck eventually sold the car to Jack Deshon. Another clean race car of Chuck's.

Indiana's Ryan Newman at speed on dirt, on his way to the Michigan State Midget championship, driving the Chuck Mauro built red #5 in 1993.

Ryan Newman at speed, this time on asphalt. Not sure where this photo was taken. What I do know is this is a car that Chuck Mauro built, and Ryan Newman won his first ever Midget championship with. Apparently, this Midget series was contested on dirt as well as asphalt, as Ryan's Mom and Dad had written a letter to Chuck expressing their amazement at how well the car worked on either surface. Ryan Newman was 16 years old at the time. WOW!

This is from a 1993 newspaper article after Ryan Newman won the Michigan State Championship for Midgets. His first championship ever according to the article. He did it driving the Chuck Mauro "built" red # 5.

This is Chuck Mauro's project of 2005. He bought this car from a fellow in Grand Junction, CO named Scott McCallum in 2004. ( Let's see now, I just did the math in my head, Chuck built his first car back in 1936 & in the year 2005 is still going strong! Holy cow, that's darn near 70 years of race car building! ) It will be powered by a Chevy II engine. The plan was, to restore it to look like one of the famous "white Mauro number 5's". The plan so far, as is evidenced by the following photos is coming together quite nicely!

Chuck Mauro and his completed "Mauro Brothers Racing" midget, "Esmeralda" 2006. Complete with the Jolly Rancher Candies from Colorado livery. As with most all of Chuck's cars, there's plenty of interesting stories that go along with this one too, right down to the "tribute RWL" tires. Those sort of speak for themselves. So Chuck wanted to give a "Shout Out" and a "Big Huge Thank You" to those that helped get this car done in the 15 months it took from start to finish...the Chuck Mauro way! On engine, we have Frank Peterson, steering, Gene Pastor, rear end, Keith Rausch, and general back up and overall help with the assembly, Frank Sparacino, Jerry Brown, Tony and Ron Rossi and Jim Doyle. What a fine, fine job you all did!

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Old 05-13-2012, 02:38 AM   #2
RJ Butz
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Default Re: Chuck Mauro

Hey, guys -Love this thread and thought I'd bump it up. Pretty long post but great stuff! Here's one I got from uncle Dick also. Sprint at Englewood? RJ
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: Chuck Mauro

Englewood Speedway, but it's a Don Edmunds built midget, with a Cosworth Vega engine, Chuck Mauro's car. Jack DeShon bought this car and put a Ford Cosworth in it, painted it blue with the #51. The DeShon family still has this car.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: Chuck Mauro

I think this is the car is now owned by Ron Rossi, who brings it out for CVOR exhibitions. Beautiful midget!
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Old 05-15-2012, 01:57 AM   #5
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Thanks, guys. Mitch, kept trying to convince my uncle it was in fact a midget but he insisted it was a sprint(looks kinda big in photo) - even with that Cosworth(thanks) in it! I'll inform him - thanks for some more Edmonds clues, too. Chuck in the background, also.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:59 AM   #6
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One simple clue, no header on that side of the motor, a sprint car would have a V8, headers on both sides of the engine. The photo is sort of an optical illusion, the car looks big, but it is Chuck's midget. If I'm not mistaken the first time this car ran it caught fire, not a bad fire I think it blew and engine. Jack DeShon had a couple real hard flips in that car, one at Belleville, one at Eagle Raceway outside of Lincoln, NE. I saw both those wrecks. In fact I was pitting for Bob Harr, and the DeShon's asked me to help drive them home, as Jack was very "loopy", it was in hot laps and he took a nasty barrel roll down the back chute. Then one year Jack got caught up in a multi car disaster in a heat race at the Belleville Midget Nationals, and tore the car up again. I believe Bob Harr entirely rebuilt the lower frame, I remember seeing it in the Harr's shop on a couple of occasions. I hot lapped this car a Lakeside Speedway on night, it was one of the most comfortable midgets I ever sat in, neat car, interesting history.

Last edited by Mitch G.; 05-15-2012 at 08:10 AM.
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chuck mauro, midget, rmmra

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