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The History of Quarter Midget Racing

This informative article was extracted from the Program for the  3rd. Annual Cal Expo. Winter Indoor RACE, 1985, the author's name could not be found. This was a Quarter Midgets of America (racing association) event.  It then follow that credit must be given to that organization for it's original creation.

Quarter Midget racing is a pastime for the whole family. The racing is limited to the youngsters (both boys and girls) between the ages of 5 and 15, but the father or mother, as crew chief, and mother father in the timer/scorer tower also play a very important role. The rules and specifications are extremely strict so that no competitor can have a distinct mechanical advantage over the other racers.

Since this is more than likely your first contact with Quarter Midget racing, we will answer some of the more frequently asked questions and others that all too often go unanswered. We feel that honest answers will result in enthusiastic support by the community, and perhaps may enlarge the scope of the sport.

"Do they ever get hurt?" and "Are they safe?" -- We are very proud of our safety record. Yes, they do have "pile-ups," bumps and flips just about as often as the "big" tracks, however, no driver has received more than a few bruises or scratches. Failing off of a 2 wheel bicycle usually produces more serious injuries. A good indication of our safety record is evidenced by our insurance rates: $7.50 for the first driver in the family and $5.00 for each additional driver. This covers the driver and handler for one whole year of racing and is less than the average insurance rate for a child that plays little league baseball for three months. This enviable safety record is the result of a comprehensive safety program that stresses both safety procedures and equipment.

"How fast do these cars go?" - This depends on the individual track and engine class. Quarter Midget tracks, both dirt and asphalt, are designed specifically for Quarter Midget racing. Most of the tracks are banked, 1/20 mile around the inside, and 25-32 feet wide. The average pattern that a driver takes is approximately 366 feet long, and a fast stock class car will take about 7 seconds to complete one lap, averaging 30 MPH and reaching peak speeds of about 36 MPH on the straights. As the drivers grow older and driving skills improve, they have the opportunity to advance to more powerful and faster cars. Some reaching 80 MPH.

All drivers must attend and complete a required driving course, usually staffed and conducted by their parent club. Everything is safety oriented: First-aid kit, track fire extinguishers, corner men, flagman, control lights, seat and shoulder belts, leather jackets, gloves, a helmet, goggles and/or face shield, naturally all Q.M.A. approved. One rule, for example, requires that an ignition cut-off switch be located outside of the cowl area so that the engine can be "killed" by someone other than the driver in case of an emergency.

Quarter Midget racing is not a training ground for future race drivers. Though some of the competitors do go on to other forms of racing after they are over the age for Quarter Midgets, most do not. Our organization does not go out of its way to discourage a youngster from gong into a racing career, but the emphasis of the sport is on sportsmanship and a family working together, rather than simply on winning. One of the most outstanding examples of the sportsmanship aspect of this sport can be seen in the fact that the prizes for the winners at all local and national races are never monetary awards. Trophies are the only tangible recognition given by the Association in honor of a racing victory. The true prize in this sport, however, is the intangible one--the benefits garnered by a family that spends its time together in the pursuit of an

What is Quarter Midget racing doing for the youngsters? As close as can be determined, 99 out of 100 will never step into racing equipment after they leave Quarter Midgets.  Most participants in this sport are here for much more than that.   They develop a father/son or father/daughter "team" comradeship that is unequaled in any other sport. They gain the experience and meaning of sportsmanship, of knowledge and an appreciation of things mechanical. They are learning driving etiquette and capability, and they are learning that there is one place to race--on a race track, NOT on a highway.

Perhaps you have additional questions or would like to know how you and your child can become part of a Quarter Midget racing club. If you are at one of our displays, a car show, or watching a driving demonstration at the "big" track--your best source of information is a driver's mother or father. Just look around, find Mom or Dad, and ask. We are certain any and all questions will be answered truthfully and with pride. -- or, check back page for a local contact and possibly plan on attending a meeting to get additional information.

Miniature auto racing has been with us almost as long as auto car racing itself. Although it is nearly impossible to date the start of the sport, I'm sure the early 1930s were the real spawning years. Children have always copied their elders, so it was not uncommon for them to turn to "soap-box" racers as soon as the first big cars stripped down and began to race one another. It didn't take long before fathers began to attach washing machine or similar engines to the wooden boards and toy wagon wheels, so their children could drive on country lanes and in backyards, in imitation of the race cars of those days.

The first notice of an organized meet was two day event called the "Children's Speed Classic" staged on May 26-27, 1934 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The cars were built by Floyd "Pop" Dreyer, who worked for the Duesenberg Brothers, Indianapolis race car builders. Oil drums were placed on a section of the main straightaway to mark out a small oval here the cars reached the fantastic speed of 20 m.p.h.  Pop's three-year old son was one of the drivers.

Prior to this, in 1932, the Winston Corporation of Joliet, Ill., manufactured a "Winston Racer" which was large enough to hold either a child or an adult. By 1934 the Maytag Washing Machine Company of Newton, Iowa was turning out a somewhat similar car. Both cars had an engine mounted behind the driver and drove the wheels by a "V-belt" arrangement. The engine in this case was the same one cylinder "Multi-Motor" used by Maytag to power their washing machines.   During the years from 1934 to 1940, Maytag sold over 500 of these little "Maytag Racers".

By 1938 a group of fathers had banded together in the small Los Angeles community of San Marino, and under the guidance of a local service station operator, Coyle Tracy, formed the Junior Midgets of America, Chapter One, more to keep the little motorized cars off the street than to promote racing. Some cars were the aforementioned Winston and Maytag Racers, but most were home built. Very few had any form of a body, only wooden frames. Power came from a variety of sources, including ex- washing machine engines, lawn mower and pipe threading engines. One car used an electric battery powered auto starter.  Ages of the drivers ranged from six to 14 and included girls. Speeds up to 30 m.p.h. were reached on the 1/10th of a mile flat, dirt oval during the weekly races. Of the 21 cars, in the club, costs varied from $65 up to $1200.

Anything was raceable as long as it had four wheels and an engine under two horsepower, no body, no floor board, no seat belt. Safety equipment, as such, was not required, with the exception of goggles to protect the eyes from the dirt. By winning the "Helmet Dash" several weeks in a row, a youngster could win a driving helmet. A unique aspect of membership in the Junior Midgets included the drivers' school grades provision, failing grades and no racing that week. Nation-wide attention was given this group of racers by articles in major magazines and newspapers as well as in newsreels and films.

A big boost to the sport of miniature car racing came with the formation of the Junior Midget Motor Car Company by a Los Angeles auto parts dealer, Joe Lucus, and Lou Faegol, the son of the owner of the Faegol Truck Company. They began making a hand-made production model racer styled after the "big" midgets of those days. The engine was mounted in front of the driver and used a chain drive to the rear axle. Without a body, it was called a "Midget-Midget" and looked like the first GoCart. The appearance of these cars brought a standardization to the cars and a few safety features.

After World War 11, various groups across the nation formed local Junior Midget clubs to resume racing the small cars. A couple of kids driving their cars on the street were invited to a vacant lot to participate with other youngsters in some informal races. One of these boys was Jimmy Caruthers, now an Indianapolis 500 race car driver (remember the original vintage of this article). Jimmy was nine years old and brother Danny only four. The skill and enthusiasm of the youngsters inspired Jimmy's father, Doug Carruthers, to build a track for them on the grounds of his Viking Trailer Company. Dubbed the "Jelly Bean Bowl" it was a 1/20th of a mile, banked, dirt oval.

Having had prior racing experience racing dragsters on the dry lakes of Southern California, Doug Caruthers saw the need for some form of organization to the races, and thus formed the Quarter Roadster Association, styled after the big time URA (United Racing Association), using many of the same rules and regulations. Caruthers also saw the need for a standardization of cars and engines and soon began the manufacture of a rear engine, one- fourth scale midget--a true quarter midget.  Many of these cars were sold through a large department store, and soon after many clubs across the country adopted similar engine and car specifications as those of the Quarter Roadster Association.

Within a few short years, there were more than a dozen companies turning out hundreds of these little Quarter Midgets. The hand-formed sheet metal bodies were replaced by the light weight fiberglass style that were easier to produce.  Safety standards were raised, with the introduction of mandatory driving helmets, roll bars and seat belts.   National growth came in leaps and bounds to the sport. In Northern California, alone, there were 17 tracks and almost 3000 drivers in 1957.  During this period there were 35-40 companies mass producing quarters as well as hundreds of smaller garages turning out custom made cars.

Realizing the strength in a national organization, another attempt was made to nationalize the sport by the formation of a single association to be the governing body for all races. These races were to be run under a program of standard car and engine specifications and a uniform set of racing and safety rules. From these efforts was born the Quarter Midgets of America, a nationally recognized sanctioning body for quarter and half midget races in this country and Canada. Since its birth, the organization has been responsible for setting uniform engine, car, racing and safety rules. Coordinating and sanctioning racing events, providing insurance for tracks and drivers, and publishing an Annual Directory and a bimonthly newsletter--The QuarteReporter all came into the realm of the Association. Annual meetings of National Officers and Directors are now held at the yearly Grand Nationals,

Since the formation of QMA, membership growth has not been rapid, but nevertheless it has been constant. In 1964 the first "QMA Grand National Championships" were held in Hayward, Calif., with 150 entries. By 1975, and the running of the 12th Annual "Grand", attendance has grown to well over 500 participants.

A recently added region in Florida has brought the Quarter Midgets of America into 13 regional areas, including a club in Canada. Governed by elected national officers and a board of directors, QMA has taken steps recently to gain more national recognition, including the entry of a float in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade. Many of the regional States Races and the Grand National have had a financial assist from major auto parts companies.

As to the future of quarter midget racing: it will continue to grow and make changes the same as the sport it imitates. Already the past 10 years have seen several innovations, such as mandatory safety roll cages, quick release seat and shoulder harnesses, new style fiberglass bodies with such added strength that it replaces the need for bumpers and nerf bars. In addition, better performance from the small engines has in turn lowered track records with increasing regularity.

The National Organization
-To create and maintain a clean, safe, healthy sport, which may be enjoyed by father, son, mother, daughter in close relationship with better sportsmanship.

-To acquaint the younger generation with the handling of mechanical devices, coordination, alertness, and ability to handle motor-driven vehicles.

-To impress the younger generation with the idea of fairness, generosity, and a sense of responsibility, without envy to others.

-To develop, direct and promote the objectives of associated clubs and their members on a national basis.

-Uniform engine, car, racing and safety rules.

-Coordination of racing events. * Maintain records of members addresses, track locations, and capabilities. o Publish a bi-annual directory of racing rules and club addresses.

-Protective insurance for drivers and tracks. o Communications for information and interpretations through Regional Directors. 9 Publish news of interest to Quarter Midget owners.

-Conduct an annual meeting of QMA Board of Directors and Representatives to coordinate QMA activities.

The goal is to build and strengthen the Association through unification by conformance to rules and regulations under one jurisdiction.

The Board of Directors of QMA consists of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and technical, safety and publicity directors. All officers are elected by the general membership and serve for a period of two years.

The United States has been divided into 13 regions, each having a Regional Director responsible for the management and coordination of all the clubs in his region. Today there are approximately 70 clubs in the 13 regions. Each club holds weekly or semi-weekly races. Under Regional control most clubs hold sanctioned races during the year. The sanctioned races serve to qualify drivers to compete in the yearly States Championship meets held each 4th of July weekend.

All Quarter Midget cars must meet certain requirements before they are allowed to race. These requirements cover wheel base, height, tire sizes, weight, etc. Also body construction and auxiliary equipment.

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