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New Munchkin Midgets To Enter The Fray Indoors At Columbus


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#1 Rumble Series

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Posted 25 October 2008 - 11:28 AM

By JIM MORRISON

The Rumble Series

When Tony Stewart and Mike Fedorcak unload their midgets for the Rumble Series of Indoor Racing this winter, they’ll not have the only Munchkins in town. Since May, Ohio car builder Mike Streicher has constructed four new cars from Fedorcak’s original drawings. Two more will be completed before Toledo’s Rumble in the Seagate Centre and a possibility exists for two more to be assembled.

Fedorcak, creator of the Munchkin midget chassis Stewart’s driven to four Rumble Series wins in the last three years, reached a deal with Streicher in May for Steicher’s company to construct the cars. Since 2005 when Stewart set quick time and won the feature in a Munchkin that just hours before sat in the hinter regions of Fedorcak’s shop, the Hoosier fabricator has received several requests to build more Munchkins.
Fedorcak resisted.

His fabrication business has kept him busy and he’d been burned in the late 1980s when USAC changed its rules. Twenty years ago, Fedorcak had just reached an agreement with a California company to sell the cars and he was left holding the parts for new cars. Some of the chrome molly tubing he bent for those cars remain in his shop.

“I had 10 cars cut up and ready to put together,“ said Fedorcak. “Rule changes put an end to that. I still have the materials here from that.” In fact, Stewart’s car was the prototype Fedorcak assembled. That car incorporated refinements he wanted to make after completing the first Munchkin. At last year’s Rumble in Fort Wayne, Fedorcak and Streicher started talking about building more Munchkins. Chuck Rencurrel, who fielded a car an old Volkswagen midget for Tyler Nuckles, approached Fedorcak about a car. As Stewart and Fedorcak talked after the NASCAR star’s win at Fort Wayne, Mike Osite, an East Coast racer, spoke to them at length, offering to find Fedorcak a ride at the Gambler’s Classic in Atlantic City a couple of weeks later. Osite, from Brooklyn, N.Y., also wanted a new Munchkin.

“I made a real effort to get into the car building business and it didn’t go,“ said Fedorcak. “Now I am not trying to get into the car building business and people are wanting me to build them.“ Fedorcak and Streicher reached an agreement in May with Streicher’s Strei-Tech company in Findlay, Ohio, paying Fedorcak a commission to build Munchkins based on the original blueprints, photographs and jigs. The deal includes the chassis setup used on Tony Stewart’s car. Fedorcak also provides a few different anti-roll bars so each can be tuned to a driver’s preferences.

Streicher already built midgets, sprint and Silver Crown cars in his shop in addition to his other fabrication work. Undertaking the Munchkin project went surprisingly well considering it was the beginning of a whole new project, according to Streicher. Since they construct race cars already, his workers were able to figure out the little things they had uncertainty about. “A race car is a race car,” said Streicher, former USAC midget champion and a winner of the RCA Dome Invitational.

Rencurrel was the first to receive his chassis followed by the three delivered to Cicconi, All are identical to Stewart’s. Two additional kits will be completed after the Buckeye Bowl Indoor Midget Nationals. He’s had discussions about building two more after those are assembled but nothing has been finalized. Streicher needed to complete work for another customer -- he houses two traditional chassis owned by Rick Daughtery -- that races in the Rumble Series.

Thus far, Streicher’s only delivered kits, but he’s not opposed to providing a roller. It all depends on what the customer wants. Although the parts delivered in the kit are traditional body-style pieces, Streicher said nothing prevents a car owner from attaching different styles of panels. Over the years, Fedorcak’s Munchkins earned the reputation of being radically different. Other than being constructed lower to the ground and wider, Streicher disagrees with this contention. The parallel bar-style suspension was used by the Kurtis Kraft midgets of the 1940s, he said. “They are doing the same thing differently,” said Streicher.

So what makes the Munchkin so good? “It is a combination of things,“ said Fedorcak. “What I got was a happy medium of a lot of things for kind of a specific purpose.“ The car Stewart drives was designed for a short track. Many forget Fedorcak built another Munchkin to run a big track. It established a new track record at O’Reilly Raceway Park. Fedorcak, a trained draftsman, has ideas for a new car but Cicconi wanted one identical to Stewart’s. He reasoned Cicconi wanted to match driving skills with the two-time NASCAR champion on a level playing field, but another consideration was the expertise on chassis setup included in the purchase of the Munchkin kit. “I told him it was essential because of the fact that he had his cars figured out already,“ said Cicconi. Working with a car constructed from an existing design would not present as much of a learning curve on chassis setup for the five-race Rumble Series, according to Cicconi. Fedorcak’s been on the phone with Cicconi just about every other day to answer questions on the car’s assembly and suggestions for chassis setup.

The Munchkin has many differences from the midget he races with the New England Midget Association. The Volkswagen-powered Munchkin chassis is shorter than Esslinger-powered chassis Cicconi drives outdoors. The shorter length makes it turn more easily in the corners. Cicconi plans to race in the Rumble Series this year. He raced once before at Fort Wayne in Rencurrel’s Kalamazoo Twister. “I couldn’t hire a driver that made me happy so I am going to do it myself,,“ said Cicconi. Three Munchkin chassis arrived in Cicconi’s Ashton, Pa., shop in kit form in late September. Cicconi and others worked 10 to 12 hours a day to make a midget identical to Stewart’s. The second car -- for Osite -- was also completed in time to race in Columbus. The third car -- for Jim Morgan -- might not be ready until the Rumble in Toledo on Dec. 19 and 20.

Cicconi’s entered cars at Rumble Series races the last couple of years. Liquid Lou, as Cicconi is know, has a wealth of experience with indoor racing. He competes annually at the Gambler’s Classic in Atlantic City and is a past winner of that event. He raced at the old Niagara Falls Convention Center and competes during the summer with NEMA and ATQMA.

Like Cicconi, Streicher’s has many laps around the tight indoor circuits. Niagara Falls, Columbus, the RCA Dome. The list goes on. He loves that form of racing. “I don’t know why I like it but I always have,” said Streicher. Streicher’s racing career started in quarter midgets when just four and a half years old. Today, his son, Richie, races in the division. In fact, last year he finished second in one of the features

Fedorcak began racing in 1974, running go-karts. He purchased a midget in 1979 and raced super modifieds. He also ran an ASA stock car in the early 1990s. His skill with fabrication landed opportunities with the Baker Racing and Hemelgarn Racing teams at Indianapolis. Fedorcak did work on Stan Fox’s car during that time. Fedorcak attributes the Munchkin’s popularity and the demand for more of them directly on Stewart. Fedorcak won a Rumble Series feature in a Munchkin in 2003 and then parked it. During a poker game, Stewart called Fedorcak just hours before the Rumble in Fort Wayne to buy the car. He dug it out of the back of shop, not even certain it would run.

Stewart set a new track record and later won the feature. Since then, the NASCAR star’s visited victory lane three more times. He now owns two Munchkins, having purchased a second version that he had learned about during the summer which Fedorcak now drives that at indoor races.

Fedorcak originally developed the idea for the Munchkin during a ride to a surgical procedure in a Louisville hospital. His hands had been burned while racing supermodifieds and as he rode by the exit for the Indianapolis Speedway he filled his mind with concepts and plans started floating around in his head.
“By the time we got to Louisville I had the thing designed in my head,“ said Fedorcak, who had been close to winning at the Speedrome but never successfully. After Fedorcak drew out his designs on paper, family and friends helped him begin gathering parts even before his hands had healed. In January of 1987 Fedorcak began cutting parts and assembling the chassis. At his first race -- at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., -- he lapped the field up to third place. “During hot laps, they threw the green and I thought the other guys had not seen it,” said Fedorcak. “I was that much faster.” His next race came at the Speedrome where he won a race televised by ESPN. Things evolved from there. “I have been riding a wave ever since,” said Fedorcak.




COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Buckeye Bowl Indoor Midget Car Nationals, a new indoor race event date on a temporary one tenth mile oval built inside the Ohio State Fairgrounds Expo Center Coliseum has been announced.

The event combines the National, Regional, Kenyon and Ford Focus Midget Cars running a full show with a 60-lap feature . The pits open at 7:30 a.m., with the main gate opening at noon. Time trials are set for the midgets at 4 p.m., with a full midget event after 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Drivers that intend to compete at press time include 2008 KISS Champion Jon Stanbrough, former ARDC and ISMA Champion Lou Cicconi, Jr, , 2006 Turkey Night Grand Prix Champion Billy Wease,2008 MSA Supermodified Champion Tim Jedrzejek, 2008 HOSS Sprint Car Champion Geoff Kaiser, former NAMARS champion Matt Westfall, and 2008 USAC Midwest and Indiana Ford Focus Champion Kyle Hamilton is entered.

Indy Car Series pit reporter Kevin Olson will also enter. Olson, a two-time USAC National Midget racing champion (1982, '87), was inducted into the USAC National Midget Hall of Fame in 1997. He also was a five-time Badger Midget Racing Association champion and was a member of the USA team that won the International Championship Series.
Tyler Nuckles, Tyler Cottongim, Virginia Quinones, Dave Fuhrman, Ryan Klingenhoper and ARCA driver Brandon Knupp have also pre entered. Entries will be accepted through race day in all classes.

#2 Lowlife517

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:18 PM

Here's a good question for Tony Barhorst. What rules will you be following for the rumble series? If you follow the current rules for any midget club in terms of car construction they all follow USAC's rule that states:

Rule # 405
B. Roll Cage Construction
1. Cars constructed after 1/1/95
4130 steel tubing - Minimum O.D. 1-3/8; Minimum wall thickness .095
2. Cars constructed after 1/1/98
Main uprights forming the roll cage must be a minimum of 1-3/8 inches O.D. x .095 wall thickness.


With that being said were these new munchkins built to these specs and if not will they be allowed to race?
Bill Guess
USAC/STARS Midget #36/99

#3 streihawk8

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:26 PM

QUOTE(Lowlife517 @ Oct 26 2008, 09:18 PM) View Post

Here's a good question for Tony Barhorst. What rules will you be following for the rumble series? If you follow the current rules for any midget club in terms of car construction they all follow USAC's rule that states:

Rule # 405
B. Roll Cage Construction
1. Cars constructed after 1/1/95
4130 steel tubing - Minimum O.D. 1-3/8; Minimum wall thickness .095
2. Cars constructed after 1/1/98
Main uprights forming the roll cage must be a minimum of 1-3/8 inches O.D. x .095 wall thickness.


With that being said were these new munchkins built to these specs and if not will they be allowed to race?

DO YOU HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT I WOULD BUILD AN ILLEGAL CAR. THAT REALLY ######ES ME OFF.

#4 Lowlife517

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:37 PM

Mike Sorry if it came off that way but I'm not trying to directly say that you built an illegal car! I have seen the munchkin race several times but have never taken the time to look at one for more than a few seconds at a time. For all I know the original munchkins could have been built with 1 3/8ths od tubing.
Bill Guess
USAC/STARS Midget #36/99




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