General News
Wednesday, 22 October 2014




Tulsa, Okla. is the site for the annual January inductions for the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees, to be announced this weekend during the annual “Gold Crown Midget Nationals” at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., comprise a mix of drivers and car owners whose names will be enshrined in the hall which is presently housed at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisc.

The inductions are part of the festivities surrounding the annual “Chili Bowl” Midget spectacular at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds and they will be held on Friday, January 16.

Alphabetically, this year’s inductees are: Chuck Arnold, Nick Fornoro, Mike Gregg, Steve Knepper, Freddie Meeker, Norm Rapp, Jim Whitman and Ashley Wright.

Arnold, of Stamford, Conn., who served as the USAC Western States Midget Chief Steward from 1975-1981, won the 1954 NASCAR Midget title and finished as the runner-up the next year. In 1952 he was named “Most Improved Driver” in the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC). He recorded 14 feature victories in USAC National competition before his driving retirement in the early 1970s.

Fornoro, of Rockaway, N.J., began racing in 1947 and before retiring in 1956 won the 1950 ARDC and 1953 NASCAR Midget titles. After his driving career ended he became one of the country’s premier chief starters and during the period from 1956-1992 he served in that capacity for ARDC, the ATQMRA TQ Midget series and eventually for Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) at their high-profile championship events. His sons Nick Jr. and Drew also became champion Midget drivers.

Gregg, of Washougal, Wash., is also a member of the Colorado and Belleville (Kans.) High Banks Halls of Fame. An eight-time champion of the Rocky Mountain Midget Racing Association (1977-78-79-80-81-82-84-87), he recorded significant victories in the 1981 Belleville Midget Nationals and at the Seattle Kingdome in 1984. The 1973 USAC “Rookie of the Year,” Mike notched four victories in USAC National competition. He also was the 1971 WMARA “Rookie of the Year.”

Knepper, of Swansea, Ill., a member of a legendary motorsports family, is an eight-time champion of the Midwest Auto Racing Association (MARA), taking titles in 1986-87-89-90-92-96-2002-03. He began driving in 1981 and two years later won the 1983 St. Louis Auto Racing Association (SLARA) title. In 1988 and 1998 he scored wins in the prestigious “Belleville Midget Nationals” in Kansas and in 1992 he won the “Hut Hundred” at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track.

Meeker, of Fairfield, Conn., was NASCAR’s 1955 and 1956 Midget champion and promptly retired at the end of the 1956 racing season. Somewhat of a rarity by capturing titles driving both Offy-powered and non-Offy machines, he was a frequent competitor with the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) and the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA).

Rapp, of San Francisco, Calif., competed in the Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget wars for two decades and also participated in a number of events in the Iowa circuit. Since 1955-he has operated a parts supply business which has now become a large inventory for owners seeking vintage Midget parts.

Whitman, of Paramus, N.J., earned NASCAR Midget titles in 1957 and 1959. During 1957, while driving for legendary car owner Ken Brenn, Jim scored five feature wins in 23 starts.

Wright, one of the most accomplished Midget car owners in USAC’s early history, fielded cars for Shorty Templeman, who helped Wright earn the 1956 USAC National car owner championship. At the annual “Night Before the 500” classic in Indianapolis, they scored victories in all three feature events that night! In 1957 Wright served as the race organizer for the popular “Tangerine Midget Tournament” in Florida which featured 11 races at eight different venues. The owner of the Hardwood Door Company of Chicago, his cars were driven by many of the era’s biggest names.