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Closed Thread  Indiana Open Wheel > Indiana Open Wheel Forum > Usac: 8 inductees announced for national midget hall of fame
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9/21/17, 11:30 AM   #1
Usac: 8 inductees announced for national midget hall of fame
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Eight drivers, comprise the 2017 class of inductees for the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, which will be honored on Friday, January 12 during the annual “Chili Bowl Nationals” week at the Tulsa (Okla.) State Fairgrounds Expo.

Alphabetically they are: Dick Atkins, Roy Bowe, Bill Chennault, Tommy Copp, Bill Eldridge, Burt Foland, Drew Fornoro and Arnie Knepper.

Atkins, of Hayward, Calif., burst upon the racing scene with spectacular results in the mid-1960s, although his career was cut short in a devastating Sprint car crash at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. in 1966 which claimed his life and that of Don Branson. Atkins scored a USAC National Midget win at Ascot Park in 1965 and just one week before his fatal crash he recorded his most significant win in the USAC 100-Mile National Championship race at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento. The 1964 and 1965 Bay Cities Racing Association Champion finished in the top-20 (19th) in USAC’s 1966 National points.

Bowe, of Denver, Colo., won the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association’s crown in 1948 and 1949. He beat Buddy Shay by a whopping 240 points for the 1948 title. He scored a total of 64 RMMRA main events and earned a dozen wins outside of Colorado. In 1952 and 1953 he competed in a couple of Nationally AAA-sanctioned events.

Chennault, of Kansas City, Mo., like A.J. Foyt, was a 1957 USAC feature winner at Olympic Stadium in Kansas City. He was a five-time Kansas City Midget Racing Champion (1953, 55, 56, 57 and 58). He competed in sporadic USAC National Championship races in 1957 and 1958.

Copp, of Fresno, Calif., was among the top USAC drivers between 1959 and 1964, racking up 23 feature victories. The 1959, 1961 and 1964 BCRA Indoor Midget Champion, he was a perennial “top-10” USAC point driver, recording eight “top-10” rankings between 1959 and 1967. His best ranking was a third in proficent at Flat Rock, Mich. 1962, 1963 and 1964 when he scored 17 of his USAC wins. He was especially proficient at Flat Rock, Mich., where he scored three wins, and he also notched a pair of wins at the high-profile Soldier Field in Chicago.

Eldridge, of Needham, Mass., captured Northeastern Midget Association titles in 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1958. He also spent most of 1952 and 1953 competing in URC’s Modified Stock Racing Association. His first championship in NEMA was memorable as it came in his first full season with the club. He ranks sixth all-time with 33 career NEMA wins to his credit.

Foland, of Coarsegold, Calif., was primarily a pavement specialist and scored five USAC National Midget wins on the hard surface. In 1968 and 1970 he won at Irwindale, Calif, and in 1969, 1970 and 1971 he notched wins at San Jose (Calif.) Speedway. During 12 years of USAC National Championship appearances he landed 30th in the final standings twice, in 1967 and 1970. The 1967 and 1968 BCRA king, he is already a member of the BCRA, Kearney Bowl, Clovis and San Jose Halls of Fame and was also a fabricator for long-time car owners Jerry O’Connell and Fred Gerhardt.

Fornoro, of Newton, N.J., joins father Nick in the Hall of Fame. During a 16-year stretch he claimed nine Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) titles. They came in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1998 and 1999! He scored a trio of USAC National Midget wins, at Lee, N.H. in 1985 and 1987, and at Seekonk, Mass. in 1986. His 83 career NEMA victories lead the all-time list.

Knepper, of Belleville, Ill., amassed five St. Louis Auto Racing Association (SLARA) Midget crowns. They came in 1954, 1955, 1960, 1975 and 1979. The five-time Indianapolis 500 veteran finished 18th (his best) in his rookie year of 1965, then make the 1966-67-68-69 races as well. In 1966 he was part of the contingent of drivers who competed in the race at Mount Fuji, Japan, and finished 3rd! In USAC National Midget competition, he had six wins, including two at Springfield, Ill and two at Hinsdale, Ill. Among his most memorable wins was the 1962 “Little 500” Sprint race at Anderson, Ind.

9/21/17, 2:54 PM   #2
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Sounds like a great list! I have had trouble finding the list of current members.
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9/22/17, 9:20 PM   #3
Kuhn74 is offline

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Seems like more of a list of Regional guys than National guys. If your stats include 19th or 30th as your most successful National season, that isn't very impressive.

Copp is the only National guy on the list. Knepper and Fornoro had plenty of success, but it wasn't National Midget Success.

It doesn't mean these guys were not good racers. Just not National guys. Don't dilute it down to accept less than the very best.

The National Hall of Fame should be the best of the best. If there isn't enough guys, maybe you don't take 8 every year. (Like Baseball)

National guys have/had success in many regions of the US. National wins and Championships. Marquee events, big money races, etc. They didn't just win races in their local area. Or beat the National guys just in their local area.

Tracy Hines would have been a good addition for this year. With credentials that surpass anyone on this list. Maybe Dave Steele or Bryan Clauson as well.

Just my opinion of course.
Last edited by Kuhn74; 9/22/17 at 9:25 PM.
Closed Thread Indiana Open Wheel > Indiana Open Wheel Forum > Usac: 8 inductees announced for national midget hall of fame

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