Torn From The Headlines – Oct. 27, 2010

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MIDGET MADNESS: Midget racers line up for a heat race before a capacity crowd at California’s seaside Ventura Raceway in April 1991. (Chris Economaki Photo)

MIDGET MADNESS: Midget racers line up for a heat race before a capacity crowd at California’s seaside Ventura Raceway in April 1991. (Chris Economaki Photo)

50 Years Ago – October 26, 1960

Hank Arnold, of Tucson, Ariz., edged closer to the Arizona Super Modified Sportsman championship by winning the 50-lap feature Saturday night at Manzanita Park in Phoenix. Arnold started 12th, drove around Habe Haberling for the lead on lap 12 and beat George Koch to the checkered flag by half a lap.

25 Years Ago – October 30, 1985

NASCAR officials announced a name change for the NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series. The series will now be known simply as the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, and the cars will carry the same name. The Grand National name will move to the NASCAR Busch Late Model Sportsman Series and cars.

Countdown To 100

Rookies are often an important part of the Indianapolis 500. The 1965 rookie class was one of distinction.

Mario Andretti finished third, Gordon Johncock was fourth and Al Unser ninth. These three drivers combined won seven 500s and made 80 starts. They rank second, third and fourth in miles driven and raced at Indianapolis in four different decades.

There were two other rookies in the top 10 in 1965. Mickey Rupp finished sixth and gave veteran owner Pete Salemi his best 500 finish. Rupp never raced at Indy again, tending to his go-kart business.

NASCAR veteran Bobby Johns finished seventh as a teammate to winner Jimmy Clark.

Newsmaker – David Steele

Dave Steele made auto-racing history on Sept. 27, 2002, when he swept the inaugural Indianapolis Twin 25s for the USAC National Midget Series on the paved oval at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Steele, 28, of Tampa, Fla., collected a $50,000 bonus from Prolong Super Lubricants for winning both races and his total earnings of $59,780 for the night were the highest in the 69-year history of midget racing.

Driving the Mopar-powered midget owned by Dino Tomassi, Steele won the first 25-lap feature from the sixth starting position, leading the final six circuits. The 22-car field was inverted for the second feature and Steele responded with a stirring, memorable drive to the front in less than 12 laps.

Chris’s Column – August 21, 2002

“A half-century ago eastern promoter Sam Nunis used to pay ‘deal money’ to his stars through the driver’s side window while seated in his Lincoln. A generation later, ARDC President Ed (Dutch) Schaefer paid prize money from the trunk of his personal car. Yet another generation later, after last week’s West Coast sprint-car show at Pennsy’s Grandview Speedway, SCRA President Ron Shuman doled out the night’s prize money from the trunk of his car. Some things never change.”