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Member Since 28 Sep 2011
Offline Last Active Dec 09 2011 12:11 PM

Meteoric Rise and Tragic Death of a Midget Champion

28 October 2011 - 05:14 PM

40 years ago on Sunday the brightest light in midget racing crashed, and later
died from his injuries. They nicknamed him the "Kid" but he drove like man. He won
12 features in his first full year of midget racing in USAC, and was just 21 years old,
but Eldon "Danny" Caruthers will ever be remembered for what he did that season,
and what he could have done in the future.

In the 1970's the midget racing landscape changed, the drivers that had dominated much of the
1960's, Bob Wente, Mel Kenyon, Mike McGreevy, and Bob Tattersall, had been surplanted. McGreevy
by retiring from the sport, Tattersal by passing away from Cancer in'71, while Kenyon and Wente,
took a step back, before a return to glory later in the decade by Kenyon.

In there place came a new group of chargers, led by Jimmy Caruthers, Dave Strickland, and Jerry McClung.
Caruthers and Strickland had a one of the greatest battles for a National Championship in Midget
racing history in 1970. When the dust settled Caruthers would narrowly win the title over Strickland.

The next season looked to follow the same script as Caruthers, Strickland, and McClung would all be back.
A newcomer would crash the party though, 21 year old Danny "Kid" Caruthers, younger brother of Jimmy,
and son of veteran car owner Doug Caruthers, would race, and dominate the USAC season in 1971.

Danny, like his brother Jimmy, would grow up racing Quarter Midgets in Southern California. The
primary track they raced on as kids, was called the Jelly Bean Bowl, and was owned by their father.
During this time Danny would become a National Quarter Midget Racing Champion. The Jelly Bean Bowl
would later be closed, but on the sight would be born the greatest attraction for kids in
the United States, Disney Land.

Caruthers would start his first campaign in USAC Midget racing with a bang, winning the first
three races he contested in the Midwest. Before Fall would come, Danny would win 12 USAC Midget
races, on tracks of every shape, and size. The "Kid" would win on short dirt tracks that
included, Lima, Ohio, Kokomo, Indiana, and three at Joe Shaheen's "Little" Springfield,
as well as Hales Corners, and Sun Prairie, In Wisconsin. On pavement short tracks, Danny would
win at Lakeside in Denver, and DeGraff, Ohio. On the big fast half miles, Caruthers would win at
Williams Grove, and Cincinnati, and on the mile and 1/8 at Nazareth.

On October 22nd of that year Danny would wrap up the Midget Championship with a second place
finish to Gary Bettenhausen at Manzanita Park in Arizona.

Three races remained on the schedule, and at that point in history Danny "Kid" Caruthers was
the youngest USAC Champion in History!

All season long Danny had driven for his father Doug, who would later become the winningest
owner in USAC Midget racing history with 98 wins before his passing in 1978.

On October 30th, 1971 the USAC midgets raced on the half mile at Corona, California. Danny would
be there, but he would not be driving for his Dad. While practicing for the nites feature event,
Caruther's throttle stuck, the midget he was driving rammed into the first turn concrete wall.
Caruther's suffered a fractured skull, and a broken neck, among other injuries. Five days
later young Danny "Kid" Caruthers would pass away.

It is hard to estimate what Danny Caruthers would have done in racing if he would have had a
better fate. 20 years later in 1991, a young Jeff Gordon would win his 12th and last USAC Midget race,
At Eldora, Ohio at age 20. Jeff would be the first of many USAC Midget Champions over the
next decade to parlay his title into fame and fortune in NASCAR. Danny Caruthers would not
recieve a chance like that. But, for one season forty years ago, Danny "KId" Caruthers
was the top midget racer in the world.

Midget Racing Icon Passes

13 October 2011 - 01:26 AM

Midget Madness Patrons,

I regret to tell everyone in the Midget racing community that Tom Davey passed away last nite
in Denver, Colorado. Tom raced midgets in the 1950's in the Rocky Mountain region, primarily
with the RMMRA. He also raced Big Cars in the BCRA. Tom is probably best remembered though,
as a photographer and writer for NSSN and Open Wheel Magazine. For the last thirty years
Tom, and his partner in crime Jerry Miller covered every Belleville Midget Nationals, as
well as the Chili Bowl on several occasions, and many other midget events, including races
in RMMRA, USAC, SMRS, SWIMS, MARA, and POWER-I among others.

Tom was inducted into the Belleville High Banks Hall of Fame with his best friend Jerry,
and the BCRA Hall OF Fame.

TD became gravely ill with Cancer, and heart problems, but recently was able to
visit with many of his longtime friends in racing. I have heard from Tom's son Mike, and
Jerry, that he greatly appreciated all the cards and letters that he recieved during his
final weeks.

RIP Tom, you were a great friend to the racing community, and a true gentleman.

Ray Cunningham

Belleville Midgets 2

04 October 2011 - 11:19 PM


Here's a few more questions about Belleville Midget racing

1.Name the driver that won the first USAC Midget race at Belleville. (Hint he was the last driver
to qualify a real roadster at Indy). And won several times at Belleville in Sprint Cars.

2. Name 7 drivers who have raced in the Indy 500, and the Belleville Midget Nationals.

3. Name 5 drivers that have raced in the Daytona 500, and the Belleville Midget Nationals.

4. Name 5 drivers who raced at Belleville in the BCRA (non wing sprinters) and the Belleville Midget Nationals

Bonus question, Encino, California driver Shane Scully was having the best year of his midget career
when he flipped out and over the fence at Belleville in the late 90's. His car was one of the best
looking in midget racing, and was numbered in honor of his racing hero. What was the number? and
who was the racing legend?