I’ve been resisting writing about quarter-midgets for quite some time – for several reasons. First, they are new to me and there is a great amount of information out there on the internet about them. And second…. they are just too cool and I’m deathly afraid I may like them way too much and find their history irresistible to study.
But as of tonight….I give up.
Most recently, I wrote about a car that would be related to a quarter midget – the James McDaniel Special. Click here to read the story about this car. Then, after I found the cool Viking Craft brochure on building your own quarter midget – I could resist no longer. So….from this point forward I’ll start including information about quarter-midgets as I find it and as those of you who have copious amounts of files share them.
What’s A Quarter Midget, You Say???
Well remember I’m still learning, but quarter-midgets were smaller version of race cars for kids. They may have started in the late ‘40s, but by the mid 1950’s I see plenty of advertising and magazine articles about them. They even raced them too, and there were some really neat designs. Sadly, with the advent of the go-cart in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, all the cool-bodied quarter midgets disappeared.
So how are they related to our Forgotten Fiberglass interest group? First, many but not all were constructed of fiberglass. Others were aluminum, and of some were of course steel. Second, several companies that produced full-size fiberglass sports car bodies produced quarter midget bodies too. Names like Victress, Kurtis, Viking Craft, and others. These are “our” kind of companies, gang!
So let’s have at it, and check out the first brochure I’ve found from Viking Craft about their Quarter Midget Roadster – sold in complete kit and ready for assemble. How ‘bout that!
Viking Craft: Quarter Midget Roadster Brochure (1955)
So this is the start of something new and I hope to be able to share many and varied histories of these companies and the quarter-midget cars they made – all small scale and fun to learn about, no doubt.
So Merrill Powell from Victress….want to spend some quality time with me on the phone and share with us what you and Victress did concerning quarter midgets? I know many of the Forgotten Fiberglass fans out there would love to learn more.
Hope you enjoyed the story, and until next time…
Glass on gang…
Click on the Images Below to View Larger Pictures
I raced out of Vegas 1956-59, Caruthers, Mantz, and Squalo Grand Prix, Showboat & later Hacienda (asphalt ! ? ), sponsors Horseshoe, & Golden Nugget , went to S. Cal. a few times, Norwalk,Orange show, Remember Scotty’s Muffler, and a car named the flying brick that was loaned to me when I broke, I remember a car from Cal = Souji Bomb !
hi Ron, I have an old Jellybean Bowl program with our names in it, the programs were updated almost weekly so some names aren’t there, so I’d be willing to get you a copy. just not sure how to get it to you, I have some old pictures from Firestone but not the Jellybean bowl, let me know
We raced together at the original Firestone track in Norwalk along with your sister, Christine. In fact, my father purchased your car for my sister’s son. She didn’t want to get involved and the car sat in our back yard for some time. I was gone in the military when he moved and I never saw the car again. I still have my car that Sam Hirsch built.
I went out to the Pomona track, probably 20+ years ago and saw Martin Massey and Mike Cresswell there.
I have a few photos or you, your dad and sister in my collection. Happy to share.
my name is Ron Phelps I drove a my first quarter midgets was Caruthers roaster than a Caruthers midgets and last one was Kurtis roaster my number was 23 Caruthers midget name Higgins missile. I race against
Jimmy and Danny caruthers,Mike and Bobby Olvero Dean Thomson and many others I won many trophies for fast time trophy dash fast heat races main event and many track record. I race at jelly beam bowl,Compton Lawndale, Pam Pacific Auditorium Las Vegas and Firestone.I hope find some picture of and my racing friend and me racing
Hi Ron Phelps,
We raced together for many years at Firestone (Norwalk, Los Alamitos), Lawndale (old and new) and Vegas to name a few. I’m doing some research at this moment on our quarter midget days and I have quite a few photos of you in your car racing against me and many of our old friends at these tracks. What a great time!
I hope we can make contact.
As Bob Falcon said, it was Doug Caruthers who built it for his kids, and his plant managers son, Jack Geisler also got to drive it on the little paved oval they mad for it that became known as the Jelly Bean Bowl. Although Disney purchased the property, it was a year or so before Viking had to move out, so racing went on at the bowl through 1955. Doug raced Midgets, and created the very 1st Quarter Midget for his kids, but it took off and became very popular as a racing class. The first one used a Continental, and had a leaf spring front suspension, while later versions used a torsion bar front suspension. Single right wheel drive, hand brake, just like the bigger midgets and Indy cars of the era. Art Ingells of Kurtis Kraft was quick to copy the idea and came up with his own quarter midget, as he was also local, in Glendale off San Fernando Road. Viking moved to a new location but continued to make trailers, RVs and midgets.
What puzzles me is the tubular front axle in the picture. Dad and I went over there from our home in Cypress and bought a Viking Craft front axle and spindles for my homemade go kart. The axle was cast aluminum, unpolished. I hit a post with the kart and broke the axle, we went over and bought another one, this time polished cast aluminum. Maybe 1954.
I still have the go kart with the Viking Craft axle on it, at our place in Montana. Should have bought the original spring with it but didn’t, later had one made up at Novo Brothers Blacksmith Shop in Santa Maria.
Maybe they went to a tubular steel axle because of breakage of the cast aluminum. The kids racing these things were usually pretty docile but the dads raced each other sometimes, one leg in and another leg out, and it got pretty competitive.
Glad you jumped into the Quarter Midgets, Geoff.
I had a 1960’s Kurtis as a starter car for my kids. We had a lot of fun with it !
Very nice Viking-Kraft brochure.
One more thought…The Viking cars were produced by Doug Caruthers who had a company in Anaheim named Viking Trailers. Doug was an ardent racer and as I recall developed the Quarter Midget class racer for his two youngsters. He also had a small dirt oval in the back of his trailer factory that gave way to become the parking lot for Disneyland. This main lot was at the corner of Ball Road and Katella Avenue.
There also was a company named Wallburg who produced a “trainer” model. This car used a fiberglass body that was quite similar to the full midgest produced by Frank Kurtis, The trainers did not have a suspension system, front or rear. I had one that I bought second hand to train my two oldest children on the techniques of racing. We raced on a 1/10 mile dirt oval about a mile south of Ascot Speedway in Gardena.
I really worked hard on that little racer since there was a big difference in the size of the kids, which required a big shift in the cockpit to fit the one who had the driving duty on a given Friday night.
Would you like some pix of this car?