Post by davidkipling1 on Mar 3, 2010 0:52:29 GMT 1
Courtesy of Steve Farndon, son of the great Tamworth promoter and stock-car racer Sid Farndon: a scan of the July 1960 BSCDA newsletter mentioning a midget builder in London. Anyone else heard of them?Cheers. David Kipling www.oldstox.com
Post by administrator on Mar 7, 2010 12:16:27 GMT 1
There may have been problems to read the topic because of the size of the BSCDA newsletter. This is what it said:
MIDGET CAR RACING. Interest is still stirring in efforts to race Midgets, American type Half midgets are being built by Z.N Midgets Ltd., 904 Harrow Rd, N.W.10 to specifications obtained from U.S.A, by Jim Holloway, the moving spirit behind the idea. Resembling minature G.P. single seaters, the formula calls for 250 cc and should be fun. With twin Clintons or McCullochs, they will do 80mph. Demonstrator ready to race in about a month, if you're keen write to Jim.
Post by haflinger121 on Mar 7, 2010 12:58:46 GMT 1
I managed to read it OK John, I just don't know anything about this at all. Perhaps the project was stillborn and never got much further than this announcement. Or could that mysterious Comanche I've asked about elsewhere (and which nobody seems to know anything about either) have been the prototype? Answers on a postcard please!
Post by haflinger121 on Dec 24, 2010 19:10:44 GMT 1
A copy of Speedway & Stock Car World I've recently acquired shows that Jim Holloway was interested in midgets even before this BSCDA item of 1960. A few months earlier (October 1959) the S&SCW paper carried a piece headlined "Can midget car racing be revived?". Here are some edited highlights:
"An attempt to revive interest in midget car racing is to be made by Mr. W.J. Holloway, the sales and competitions manager of Auto-Moly.....It has long been Mr. Holloway's wish to have a midget, and after obtaining full details and regulations from Pat Purcell, of NASCAR, in Florida, plans were drawn up and the necessary components were collected. Nothing more was done until some assurance could be made that the car could appear on a circuit, and to this end an approach was made to the ever-helpful Jack Walsh, at Staines, who offered to let the car do demonstration runs between stock car events. Briefly, the car must have a wheelbase of not less than 74 in. and a track of not less than 40 in. or more than 46 in. Weight must not exceed 1,100 lb. in starting line trim and the obvious choice of engine is the Ford V8 60....the chassis frame will be Buckler 4 in. square tube, and it will use Ford components wherever possible, including commercial rear axle with off-set differential which will allow the engine and transmission to be kept to the left and the driver will sit on the right at floor level. This will mean a very low-slung car, and every effort is being made to create a car resembling a miniature Indianapolis 500 machine.....In the belief that earlier attempts to promote midgets failed because there were too many cars on the circuit at once coupled with American ballyhoo about speeds of 100 m.p.h. and so on......it would seem that the sight of half a dozen midgets could stimulate public interest still further."
I've never read or heard anything about this anywhere else and assume this became another still-born project.
Holloway both worked as a scrutineer at Staines and advertised Auto-Moly in their programmes, so I guess he would have had no problems chatting Walsh (a go-ahead character who was an early go-kart enthusiast too) into allowing the demonstrations. It just doesn't look like it ever happened. We have all the late season 1959 Staines programmes here, and there is no mention of anything in them and, by 1960, the track was under different management anyway and Hollowway is no longer listed in the progs as scrutineer.
Incidentally, I'm not sure who had the idea that the earlier midget racing failed due to having too many cars on the track at once!
To the best of my knowledge, ytf, they never came into existence, so who can say? I've always understood that a TQ midget means a three-quarter (sized) midget and the description "half midget" sounds like a (possibly tongue-in-cheek?) similar style of name.
I'm afraid I don't get any of this naming culture with regard to midgets, but maybe I'm just too dumb to have caught on. Surely a midget is, by definition, small; why would you need to have cars that are three quarters the size? And how 'big' is a midget allowed to be anyway? Even I can tell the difference between a Sprint Car and a midget, but then there are Silver Crown cars. These are sometimes referred to as 'Big Cars' but I believe this is as opposed to a Sprinter (presumably a 'Small Car' but you never hear them called that) rather than as compared to a midget, which is smaller still, right? The whole thing confuses me!
My understanding of the American scene was ( and still is) quarter midgets were roughly quarter size of a midget raced by children, TQ's were roughly three quarter size midgets, midgets size wise are roughly similar to the GPMC front engine cars but with twice the power, big cars before WW2 were anything bigger than a midget including sprints and what later became dirt champ and laterly Silver Crown cars. After WW2 sprints evolved and the dirt champs were the big car and finally on the road to the top Indy cars although back in the 60's an Indy car race could containe early rear engine cars, front engine roadsters and dirt champ cars - you are right - confusing it is! Think half midgets was a term started over here.
Post by haflinger121 on Jan 8, 2011 17:35:19 GMT 1
Can't argue with any of that Ez. Yes, Quarter Midgets are very small indeed, and then of course there are even Micro Midgets - self explanatory that one I guess, and also (I believe) raced by kids. I still don't understand the need for 75% sized versions of cars that were small to start with though! Yeah, the 'Big Cars' seemed to evolve in two different directions. The dirt racers seemed to morph into Sprinters and Silver Crown cars (where on earth did they get that name from I wonder?) while the paved surface racers went faster and faster and became the weapons of choice for Indianapolis. Eventually, with a kick up the bum from the likes of Lotus, Jim Clark and Graham Hill, they realised rear engined was the way to go (unfortunately their cross-Atlantic cousins also caught on to that in time!) and Champ cars became something technically very similar to Grand Prix cars and have no obvious roots in small oval dirt tracks.
I also agree that the term Half Midgets was something coined by the guys over here for their new formula that seems never to have happened - I've never heard the term used anywhere else.
A little aside which you may or may not find interesting.
The dullest "race" I ever saw in my life was for Silver Crown cars. I was well hyped up to see the 'Big Cars' on a one-mile dirt track at the Indianapolis State Fairgrounds. Even the name gets the juices flowing, eh? Well, there was only a handful of cars which looked lost on the huge track, they just looked like Sprints to me anyway, and the amount of faffing about and countless yellow flags seemed destined to delay the meeting until the enormous tropical storm which was brewing up on the horizon arrived to put a stop to proceedings altogether. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive until after the meeting, but I had long since (literally) fallen asleep in the front row of the stands by then! The best part of the event was a start-line interview with Rick Mears and AJ Foyt conducted before the 'racing' started.
By contrast, one of the most exciting races I ever saw in my life came on the same trip. This was for midgets at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a roughly half mile semi-banked asphalt oval. The quality of the field was impeccable and even included NASCAR star Jeff Gordon making a brief return to his roots. The final was astonishing, with eleven cars breaking away to fight over the lead and all of them having to drive permanently at eleven tenths just to stay with the lead pack, never mind actually win it. Eventually, the guy in third place decided to try a truly desperate move to grab the lead three laps from the end and when the others maybe weren't ready for it. They clearly weren't, as the move caused a monster crash that wiped out several of the contenders and somebody who should probably have finished about seventh, came through to win - fabulous stuff.