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Quarter Midget Racers from Late 50's/early 60's

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THANKS to Doug McBride

 

Doug,

 

The way I see it, we wouldn't have a very interesting forum had it not been for your help and efforts to supply many of your personal photos for this site..

 

I have enjoyed editing and posting them for all to view and get a better idea as to the beginning of 1/4 Midget Racing in it's early days.

 

Photos speak a thousand words..

 

We pay tribute to Doug's Mom in the following photos and also to ( a young ) Doug McBride with the start of his 1/4 Midget career in a " Speedway" manufactured 1/4 Midget.

 

Good friends always Doug, Sandra, Freddy, Denny, Coggie, and all the rest of the drivers who kicked off Quarter Midget Racing in the late 50's early 60's.. :)

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FACTORY 1/4 MIDGETS 1957-58

 

If you were serious about racing in the 50's, you could select from many factory midgets being offered.

 

Below, a choice of either the "King Size" Wahlborg on the left or the standard Wahlborg on the right.

 

Wahlborg offered two sizes depending on the age and size of the drivers.

 

These midgets pictured are in "Stock" form.

 

Many add ons and after market racing specialties were available ..for a few more $$$

 

#85

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FACTORY 1/4 MIDGETS ..continued

 

Below is a "Viking Craft" Quarter Midget 1957 Model..

 

Second photo below

 

MOSS MIDGET - 1957

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Edited by Midget 85

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Lon,

 

In the early days, even the big midgets, sprinters.and Indy cars were NOT equipped with"Roll Bars" at all.

 

Naturally, Quarter Midgets were patterened after the Big Midgets and they didn't have them. You would just drive and not get her upside down!!

 

Talking about driver exposure in those days??

 

Roll Bars were an after thought until a few drivers were either seriously or fatally injured once they figured these open cockpit racers could and would get upside down without too much effort. They would simply "Hold on for the ride" so to speak.

 

To some drivers in those days..they were called "Sissy Bars" to even have one on your car!

 

Thanks to the safety boards in racing that made them mandatory over time and not to mention some common sence..

 

To answer your question more specifically, some of these photos probably show the midgets in purest "Stock" option and a roll bar was optional safety equipment. Most all factory built 1/4 Midgets I can remember came with a factory Roll Bar however, option or no option

 

These being snapshots of a 1957 Midgets (the earliest ones built) the roll bar came immediately afterwards.

 

On the other hand, if you look back to the very first page of this thread you will see my first midget and guess what? NO ROLL BAR! That was 1956 and the car was not a factory built midget,

 

Throughout this thread you may see some of the photos where "Roll Bars" were not on the cars. Take a look at Doug McBrides' midget just above this post...

Edited by Midget 85

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ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BEGINNING OF 1/4 MIDGETS

 

Throughout this thread we have mentioned and related several postings of not only my beginnings but others illustrated with photos and comments.

 

From the crude building of these little racers to the utmost desire to race them!

 

Below are more photos for the love of racing at an early age.. :huh:

 

Reckon they got their body style ideas from the big tracks?

 

Little racers who possibly became Big Ones. If not..they most certainly had fun anyway!

 

A wanna be 32' Ford Roadster and possibly one inspired by a Pick Up Race.

 

Thought NASCAR Truck racing was something new?

 

Hey, they even had the engines up front..

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...MORE

 

It looks like Don would drive both mini truck and midget racers as pictured below..

 

Crude indeed, but state of the art craftmanship for it's time.

 

Manufactured cars..??

 

Shucks...build your own! :rolleyes:

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MORE FACTORY 1/4 MIDGETS OF THE 50's

 

As mentioned, in the beginning there were many different styles of midgets that could be purchased..

 

TOP PHOTO

 

This was a California produced midget from Speedway Mfg. A "Speedway Midget" as it was known.

 

 

MIDDLE PHOTO

 

The 2nd shot was built on the idea of a 50's Sprint Car by an individual who offered these on special order.

They were known as the "Sprinter Midget"

 

 

BOTTOM PHOTO

 

This midget was called the "Safe Midget" manufacturer unknown.

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...MORE FACTORY 1/4 MIDGETS OF THE 50'S

 

The 1/4 Midgets below reflect two more manufactured midgets available in the 50's.

 

TOP PHOTO

 

DMC Quarter Midget ( Device Motor Company )

 

 

 

BOTTOM PHOTO

 

ANSCRAFT Quarter Midget ( Anszen Automotive Co. )

 

Both midgets could be purchased at approximately $350 to $375 in the late 50's.

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QUARTER MIDGET KITS IN THE 50's

 

The article below shows some of the kit forms available in the 50's

 

Buy them and build them!

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...MORE

 

On this page you will see one of the early race tracks for the quarters and some of the available after market parts..

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Just C.O.D. one of those $380.00 kits to me!!!

 

 

Jim,

 

Hang on and I'll build you one!

 

I just recently ordered another classic body, so guess I will be busy with restorartion projects around the house.

 

My plans are to restore two of them!

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Back in about '58, $380.00 was about 6 weeks take home pay for a lot of families around our old neighborhood on Houston's near northside. Just an observation.

 

 

Larry,

 

You are right about that! Sounds cheap today but, in those days it was rather expensive. Add the racing cost and there you have it..

 

#85

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WHAT HAPPENED TO 1/4 MIDGETS IN HOUSTON AND OTHER AREAS?

 

As you can see with the photo below, Quarter Midgets popularity gave way to GO-Karts in the early 60's as the new rage.

 

WHY?

 

Quarter Midget racing was so much fun and the envy of others who had either grown too big or too old to participate in this new sport.

 

So, the racing bug for anyone 7 to 70 was now able to race the smaller cars and not be restrained to midget bodys that would only accomodate the smaller fries!

 

Long legged and taller or bigger kids and grown ups could cradle up in one of these NO BODY racers and enjoy the thrill of racing like the kids did. That means Mom and Dad could be racing with you.

 

Note the leg room now avaialable for the envious big kids and parents that could now race!

 

So Quarters sorta kicked off the small fry racing that inspired kids of all ages and sizes to wanna join the fun.

 

Now Big Kids could participate and enjoy the new rage..

 

Early GO-Karts were powered by many different engines pending on a new rage and before any sanctions could be established.

 

Later, the more serious GO-Kart racers would prefer the High Winding 2 Cycle engines in the early 60's and did not have gear boxes. Instead, larger spocket gears were chosen for the track size.

 

The photo below reveals the many different age brackets of racers and the construction of the GO-Karts in the early days..

 

This new fad as it were, at least in Houston decreased the interest in quarter midget racing much to my sadness to see midgets disappear in those days.

 

We are happy to see Quarter Midget racing has evolved again as a popular sport among many young drivers today.

 

Yes, the styles have changed in designs but the thrill of racing lives on in Quarter Midget racing for the 21st Century!

 

#85

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ANOTHER MEMORY PHOTO...

 

Cool Cars..

 

Cool Fun..

 

Cool Racin'

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BROTHERS IN RACING

 

Nothing like brothers in the racing game no matter how young or old you are..

 

Maybe Jack Rousch got the "Hat Idea" from one of these young racers?

 

 

Quarter Midget racing in it's beginning days is witnessed by photos like this one.

 

#85

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MORE VINTAGE 1/4 MIDGETS

 

The photo below possibly reflects more brothers in racing..

 

The 1/4 Midget below is a Kurtis Kraft Midget.

 

Look at the vintage racing wheels and slicks on this one..

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CAGES ON QUARTERS!

 

By the late 60's and early 70's, Quarter Midgets were equipped with full cage protection for the drivers..

 

The photo below reveals action in the turns with the cages in full view.

 

Gone were the single roll bars behind the drivers helment. Other safety devices were now becoming mandatory as the action became more agressive and the protection awareness for fewer injuries.

 

Were there any drivers in Quarter Midget racing that were injured seriously or fatally??

 

Unfortunately, the answer was yes and mainly due to lack of protection in the earlier days.

 

Quarter Midget drivers were exposed to the same conditions as the Big Racers that had little or.. No Roll Bars.. :huh:

 

You will also see the introduction and usage of GO-Kart racing wheels and slicks now being used on the Quarters as they are still today.

 

85

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INDY QUARTER MIDGET

 

Pictures below feature the "Lil" Indy Midget

 

Circa 1957

 

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Bottom Photo

 

AMERICAN K&O MIDGET

 

1957 K&O Midgets were one of the less popular midgets but were available like so many were in the 50's..

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HOUSTON Quarter Midget Track .. Landmark

 

The Gulf Freeway 1/4 Midget track was located just south of the Tele-Wink Cafe on I-45 south at Woodredge exit and Winkler Drive In Theatre. All have come and gone from those days. Gulfgate Mall was nearby also and was new at that time.

 

The track was officially opened for testing in late 1957 and was open for racing in 1958 for the start of the Quarter Midget craze in Houston.

 

The track unfortunately was later plowed under due to future growth in land developement. All racing was moved to the race track in Pasadena.

 

Other tracks attended nearby were located in Liberty, Beaumont, and Alvin areas.

 

We hope to find additional photos of the track as we research archives..

 

#85

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Randy,

Meant to post this here, not as a new topic.

 

We started racing here in San Antonio at Las Palmas Shopping Center in the late 50's. We later moved to Terrell Plaza Shopping Center. On April 1, 1962, the track at Comanche Park opened and the first race took place. The track was called the Comanche Bowl and was dedicated at 2:00p.m. on Sunday just before the racing started. County Commissioner A.J. Ploch was the honored guest at the dedication ceremonies. Wow, I thought, a man with the initials of A.J. dedicating our track.

 

On April 23, we had our first really big race. We had David Watkins from Garland, David McDermont from Shreveport, Linda Hice from Dallas and Mike Kidd from Dallas to participate in the first AA Fuel race held at the track.

 

Of the early racers that I raced with, Mike Kidd went on to become a Nationally renowned motorcycle racer.

 

On Thanksgiving weekend 1962, the Alamo Quarter Midget Club held the Texas State Championship Races at Comanche Park.

 

Doug...

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Great input Doug!

 

We need more information on the little tracks and some of the history of each..

 

Any photos or programs of anything would be great.

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Randy,

I don't remember a track in Alvin. Please refresh my memory. I remember a few exhibition races at Dickenson drag strip, Galveston, Pasadena, Liberty, and Beaumont, but not Alvin.

There was a cafeteria across the street from the Gulf Frwy track. We ate there once. I remember us racing on a Sat. afternoon, then a bunch of the families went to the cafeteria, then had a caravan to Liberty for Sat. night races. On the way back my Dad got very sick. We all went to the emergency room when we got back. He had food poisoning from banana pudding he had eaten at the cafeteria. Don't think any of us went back to the cafeteria.

Did you try that number to reach Coggie? Do you want me to try it? Let me know.

Sandra

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Sandra,

 

By all means I need help with locating Coggie.

 

The number I have is not accepting any calls so, keep trying for us if you would.

 

I'm hoping Denny will find more photos soon so we can cover more of the quarters in the early days and also bits of his racing days to be included on this thread.

 

We will try and keep this thread updated and current as we move along.

 

Speaking of tracks. How many remember the night all Quarter Midgets were exhibited at Playland Park for a promotion of 1/4 Midget Racing.

 

That was really cool to be on the 1/4 Mile Playland Park Speedway. We were led by a small Triumph pace car if I recall correctly.

 

The cafeteria you are speaking of was located across the street from the track and was called "Thornhill" Cafeteria. Ate there frequently but nver had a bad experience there.

 

The Tele-Wink Cafe was where we went after the races on Sunday in most cases. Popular place for the gatherings after the races.

 

The race track in Alvin was reported by Freddy Taylor as I think he raced there a couple of times from my understanding.

 

I am assuming it might have been a GO-Kart track??

 

-Randy

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Yes! Thornhill's Cafeteria. It later moved into the Gulfgate Mall. Even after they moved to the mall, Daddy still never ate there. Tele-Wink Grill was one of Mother's favorites. We would go eat at the Grill, then go across the street to Winkler Drive In. Gosh, I can't believe I have forgotten so much the past 50 years. Fun times!!!

Sandra

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