NATIONAL MIDGET HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2018 INCLUDES ANDRETTI, ASTONE, CLAUSON, IRWIN, MARSHMAN, STREICHER
Story By: Richie Murray/USAC
Photos By: Pete MacDonald/RacersGuide.com
Speedway, Indiana (November 14, 2018)………The National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame has named six of the sport’s all-time greats into its 2018 class, which will be celebrated with a luncheon and induction ceremony on Friday, January 18, inside Fair Meadows Hall (Simulcast Building) at the Tulsa (Okla.) State Fairgrounds, located adjacent to the Tulsa Expo Center which will be hosting the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals that week. The doors will open at 11am, with the luncheon beginning at 11:30am (Central).
The Class of 2018 includes (in alphabetical order) Mario Andretti, Tommy Astone, Bryan Clauson, Kenny Irwin, Jr., Bobby Marshman and Mike Streicher.
Synonymous with American auto racing, Mario Andretti has accomplished nearly everything in the realm of motorsport. He was named Driver of the Century by the Associated Press in 1999 and the American Driver of the Century by Racer Magazine in 2000. In his illustrious career, the Italian-born drive who resided in Nazareth, Pa. captured the Formula One World Championship in 1978 as well as USAC National Championships in 1965, ’66, ’69 and the CART title in 1984. He stands alone as the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), Daytona 500 (1967) and the Formula One World Championship. His versatility behind the wheel is unquestionable with victories at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 1969, the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1967, ’70 and ’72, an IROC series title in 1979 and as a USAC Midget winner in 1966 at Michigan’s Berlin Raceway. He began his open wheel racing career in TQ Midgets with the American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association in 1961 before jumping into full-size midgets with ARDC. On Labor Day weekend in 1963, he won three midgets features in one day at two different tracks: New Jersey’s Flemington Speedway in the afternoon and twin features at Pennsylvania’s Hatfield Speedway during the evening, all driving for the Mataka Brothers, who, from that day forward, always carried the number 3N1 on their cars in honor of the amazing feat.
Though his USAC National Midget career was somewhat brief, Fresno, California’s Tommy Astone had an impressive run between 1974 and 1976, winning seven victories at Burlington, Iowa, Hartford, Mich., Kingsport, Tenn., Sun Prairie, Wisc., Springville, Utah and Kokomo, Ind. and his most notable victory coming in the 1974 Night Before the 500 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, all for car owner Doug Caruthers. He finished runner-up in the final USAC National Midget standings in 1973-1974 and third in 1976. He emerged in victory lane with the USAC Western States Midgets once in 1983 at Ascot Park and on four occasions at Hanford, Calif., Phoenix, Arizona’s Manzanita Speedway and twice at Ventura, Calif. Astone was inducted into Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame in 2009 and competed with the California Racing Association, Astone also scored his lone USAC National Sprint Car victory at New York’s Erie County Fairgrounds in 1976.
No driver fit more racing accomplishments in as short amount of time in USAC history as did Bryan Clauson. The Sacramento, California-born driver who made Noblesville, Ind. his home during his career is one of just six drivers to reach 100 USAC feature wins during a career. His 112 career USAC wins rank only behind racing legends Rich Vogler, A.J. Foyt, Sleepy Tripp, Mel Kenyon and Dave Darland. Thirty-eight of those came in USAC National Midget competition with mega wins at Turkey Night Grand Prix in 2009 and ’10, the Hut Hundred in 2010, the 4-Crown Nationals in 2014, the Chili Bowl in 2014 and the Belleville Nationals in 2009, ’10 and ’15. His achievements spread across the racing spectrum with three Indiana Midget Week titles to his credit in 2009, ’11 and ’16 and was a star “down under” in New Zealand at Western Springs. His championships run the gamut as the USAC National Drivers Championship winner in 2010, ’11 and ’12; the 2012 and ’13 USAC National Sprint Car champion; the 2010 and ’11 USAC National Midget Championship. His talents took him to a trio of starts at the Indianapolis 500, the last of which came in 2016 where he led the 100th lap of the 100th running. Clauson lost his life in a crash at the 2016 Belleville Nationals, fittingly while leading the race, at age 27.
Kenny Irwin, Jr. made his mark in every racecar he stepped foot in, but he particularly shined in midget racing. He won the 1992 All American Midget Series championship in the family-owned car where he earned a ton of accolades, including a pair of wins on the high banks of Winchester (Ind.) Speedway and at Indianapolis Raceway Park, as well as a 1993 USAC season-opening victory at the SkyDome in Toronto. He ventured to Dave Calderwood’s No. 4 in 1995 and continued his winning ways, scoring on the Springfield Mile. He then moved to the famed Steve Lewis No. 9 car where he won twice at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway en route to the 1996 USAC National Midget title. He was the 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year and was twice a winner in NASCAR’s Truck Series. The rising star lost his life in 2000 during a practice crash at New Hampshire International Speedway at the age of 30.
Bobby Marshman was one of the brightest young, upcoming drivers of his era when he passed away in a Champ Car testing crash in the Fall of 1964 at just 28 years old. Despite the briefness of his career, the Pottstown, Pa. driver was a force in racing right from the get-go. The son of 1949 AAA East Coast Midget champ and longtime promoter of Pennsylvania’s Hatfield Speedway George Marshman, Bobby began his midget racing career with ARDC where, in his first season in 1958, he finished third in the standings. He excelled in long-distance midget races, particularly, winning big events at Trenton, N.J. in 1960, ’61 and ’62 at lengths of 300, 250 and 100 miles. The latter two at Trenton served as two of his four career USAC National Midget victories. He also won in USAC Sprint Car, Stock Car and Championship Car competition, winning the 1962 Bobby Ball Memorial at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. He was co-Rookie of the Year with Parnelli Jones at the 1961 Indianapolis 500, starting 33rd and finishing 7th).
Mike Streicher has been a success in nearly all facets of midget racing. The Findlay, Ohio native has won USAC National Midget championships as a driver, car owner, mechanic and car builder. In 1983, he captured his first series title with USAC as a car owner and mechanic for driver Rich Vogler. In 1988 at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway, he won the first of his six career USAC National Midget features and was victorious in the Hoosier Dome Invitational in 1990. The following season, in 1991, Streicher raced to three victories, the USAC National Midget driver title and his third owner championship. He constructed the Hawk Chassis, which raced to countless Midget feature wins in USAC, NAMARS, ARCA, NEMA, ARDC, and others. Streicher remains active in racing to this day as a professor at University of Northwestern Ohio’s motorsports program to educate future racers and mechanics.
For induction ceremony tickets and more information on the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame, please visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/National-Midget-Auto-Racing-Hall-of-Fame-175885105763849/