WM: 2003 Midget Hall of Fame inductees
Jason Leffler, a star on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck circuit joins post World War II standout Al Bonnell, famed West Coast car owner Johnny Balch, and respected racing official and historian Bill Hill as the 2003 class of the National Midget Hall of ...
Jason Leffler, a star on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck circuit joins post World War II standout Al Bonnell, famed West Coast car owner Johnny Balch, and respected racing official and historian Bill Hill as the 2003 class of the National Midget Hall of Fame.
The ceremony, a part of the 20th anniversary of the Hall of Fame celebration, will take place on Saturday August 23rd at the Angell Park Speedway Pavilion in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.
In addition, twenty additional honorees, selected by a blue-ribbon panel of auto racing historians will also be inducted on a special Hall of Fame weekend at Angell Park.
These inductees include: Lloyd Axel, George Bignotti, Frank Burany, Vito Calia, Mike Caruso, Ernie Gessell, Bob Gregg, Cecil Green, Bill Holmes, Swede Lindskog, Johnny McDowell, Mike Nararuk, Mike O'Halloran, Ray Richards, Johnny Ritter, Troy Ruttman, Joe Sostilio, Harry Turner, Chuck Weyant, and Bob Wilke.
Commenting on the inductees, National Hall of Fame President Bill Marvel noted "they represent a diverse group from across the country and comprise people from every aspect of the sport from drivers and owners to officials and historians. We're looking forward to a big celebration at Sun Prairie."
The 2003 class:
The 1997, 1998 and 1999 USAC National Midget Champion. His three consecutive titles is a feat that has only been accomplished on three occasions and with his 1999 crown he became the first driver to earn this distinction since 1962. Leffler's current total of 18 national wins includes the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the Hut 100, the Night Before the 500, the Copper World Classic, and the Belleville Midget Nationals. Although he competes full-time on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series he still enjoys open wheel competition and won the Night Before the 500 at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2002.
One of the first stars of the post World War II midget boom, Bonnell was voted "King Doodlebug" in the 1946 National Midget Racing Poll. One of the true pioneers, Bonnell claimed track championships at Cleveland in 1937 and 1938 and at Detroit VFW (late Motor City) Speedway in 1946. Bonnell also captured the CSRA championship in 1940 and the Zeiter Michigan-Ohio circuit in 1946.
One of the most storied and successful owners on the west coast during the heyday of midget racing. When the epicenter of American midget racing was located at California's Gilmore Stadium Balch's team was the standard for professionalism and results. Balch's success came in part due to the quality of the men who campaigned his cars including Hall of Fame drivers Eddie Haddad, Perry Grimm, Danny Oakes, and Johnny McDowell. In 1946 alone Johnny Balch's cars finished in the first four positions in the Gilmore Stadium title chase.
Captivated by midget racing at Kansas City's Olympic Stadium as a young man, Bill Hill has devoted his life to auto racing by serving in every conceivable role. Hill has served as an official with the United States Auto Club, as a public relations director, a popular announcer, a writer, and in the insurance industry. It is with the pen and microphone that Hill has gained fame in part due to his boundless passion for the sport and its people. In recent years, Hill has written two authoritative histories on the sport of Midget racing focusing on the plains and Rocky Mountain states, and a third publication is currently in progress.
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