1936 - the first world championship Mar 27, 2009 12:47:21 GMT 1
Post by administrator on Mar 27, 2009 12:47:21 GMT 1
AMERICAN speedway star Cordy Milne arrived in Britain in 1936 determined to win the motorcycle sport’s first world championship.
He did become a world titleholder that year, but not as he expected by racing on two wheels. Instead, the Californian claimed the first World Midget Car Championship.
The meeting took place at London’s Hackney Stadium on Tuesday, August 4 - less than a month before speedway’s first official world championship. Milne failed in his quest at Wembley where the title was won by the Australian rider Lionel van Praag.
Midget car racing’s first world championship certainly had an international flavour about it. The nine listed contestants were: Dickyy Case (Australia), Cordy Milne (USA), Putt Mossman (USA), Bob Deihl (USA), Ewald Schitzer (Germany), Harry Skirrow (England), Billy Murden (England), Morian Hansen (Denmark), Tommy Sulman, with two English drivers Ron Wills and Les White as the reserves.
Most of the starters were speedway riders - only Skirrow, Murden, Sulman and the two reserves were midget car drivers. Hansen eventually failed to start because of a speedway injury and Wills took his place.
Murden was a strongly fancied contender, going into the meeting boosted by a defeat of Sulman at a previous Hackney meeting. Hansen had previously raced a midget during the 1935-36 Australian season, while Milne was also claimed to have had some midget car experience in the USA.
Mossman - who also ran a motorcycle stunt team - went to Hackney on the strength of a strong midget car performance at Belle Vue where he was just outside the car track record.
The world championship was run over 12 heats, each of four laps, with three drivers in a race and points awarded two for a win, one for second, nil for third place.
Dickyy Case looked set to be the first world champion, defeating Milne in the first race, the convincingly winning his second drive. But in his third race, the Australian failed to finish. Bob Deihl also set a hot pace, winning his first three drives but losing his title hopes in his last drive, when in against Milne and Skirrow who, each with five points, were one behind the American.
A win for either Milne or Skirrow would have been enough to give them the title, provided Deihl was last. Deihl just needed a second for seven points to be the champion. It did not finish that way - Milne won from Skirrow and claimed the world crown.
No more world championships were staged in Britain in pre-war days, but a series of world championships began in Australia in 1937. English driver ‘Bronco’ Bill Reynolds won the world title in 1939 and again in 1956. In the 1940s, a major world championship series was also established at Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand.
Since the late 1970s, a world championship has also been raced in Britain and Europe, with England’s Harry Sayell the dominant driver in the 1990s.
WORLD MIDGET CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
(Hackney, August 4, 1936)
Scorers: Cordy Milne (USA) 7, Dicky Case (Australia) 6, Bob Deihl (USA) 6, Harry Skirrow (England) 6, Billy Murden (England) 4, Tommy Sulman (Australia) 3, Ron Wills (England) 3, Putt Mossman (USA) 0, Ewald Schitzer (Germany) 0. Reserve: Les White (England), did not drive.
Heat 1: Case, Milne, Wills, Heat 2: Deihl, Mossman (disqualified), Schitzer (disqualified). Heat 3: Skirrow, Murden, Sulman. Heat 4: Case, Skirrow, Mossman. Heat 5: Deihl, Murden, Wills. Heat 6: Milne, Sulman, Schitzer. Heat 7: Milne, Murden, Mossman. Heat 8: Deihl, Sulman, Case. Heat 9: Skirrow, Wills, Schitzer. Heat 10: Wills, Sulman, Mossman. Heat 11: Case, Murden, Schitzer, Heat 12: Milne, Skirrow, Deihl.
(c) John Hyam 2009