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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale WITHOUT RESERVE and SOLD to the highest bidder January 27th – 31st, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 16th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Descended from the wild and wooly dirt-track Sprint cars and Midgets that continue to thrill legions of racing fans in America, Quarter Midgets have been around in one form or another since the days before World War II. Today, there are over 4,000 quarter midget drivers in the United States and many of the most recognized American racing champions began their careers as kids driving quarter midgets. Among them are A.J. Foyt, Jeff Gordon,, Sarah Fisher, Jimmy Vasser, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Terry Labonte, and Bobby Labonte to name only a few of today’s top drivers that started in quarter midgets. While many venues exist for Quarter Midget racing today, the oldest continually run dirt Quarter Midget dirt east of the Mississippi is the Hulman Mini Speedway, operated since 1958 by the Terre Haute Quarter Midget Association (THQMA) located in Terre Haute, Indiana. The west coast is the home to another Quarter Midget hotbed where the Capitol Quarter Midget Association has operated a Quarter Midget dirt track since 1954. Notably, NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon raced during his youth with the Capitol Quarter Midget Association.
A number of manufacturers produced Quarter Midgets over the decades, and despite their diminutive proportions, the cars were quite sophisticated, attractively finished, and costly, with finished cars priced in advertisements from $495 – a considerable sum during the 1950s. In ready-to-run form, they often included two-tone paint finishes, racing stripes, naugahyde upholstery, chrome bumpers/nerf bars and roll bars. One-piece bodies, racing-style torsion bar suspensions, and metal belly pans were also common Quarter Midget accoutrements. Produced at Bell Gardens, California, this lovely little Mantz ‘500’ Quarter Midget racer is a particularly striking period piece from 1958 and very much a scaled-down version of the larger Midget and Sprint cars of the era. As the company’s top-of-the-line model, it has the optional chassis design with a 45-inch wheelbase length. This ‘500’ model came equipped with a more-powerful, 3-horsepower Continental “Red Seal” AU-series motor. The four-stroke Continental units, lovingly referred to as “Connie” engines, were the power unit of choice in the 1950s for Quarter Midgets, with period Continental advertising copy stating, “Heart of the finest quarter midget racers…Continental Red Seal power,” and claimed that 95% of all the quarter midgets used their engines. Power transmission is accomplished with an optional automatic clutch.
This highly engaging factory-built racer has a low center of gravity and a full torsion bar suspension, which has been fully adjusted. It retains the factory-installed Nalpak racing wheels and includes both hand- and foot-operated brakes. With all options, sold new for over $600. Authenticity is assured with this true registered quarter midget retaining its data plate with assigned car number and date issued. Provenance is also exceptional, with the Consignor having acquired it from the family that bought it new, and it is understood to have been a winner during 1958 in Southeastern Ohio. It clearly benefits from a full professional restoration with quality second to none and starts and runs. It is accompanied at auction with an original buyers’ guide and provides an exceptional opportunity to acquire and enjoy a true, well-documented factory race car and a wonderful piece of American motorsports history.