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Few individuals are able to reach the pinnacle in multiple racing disciplines. Even fewer have managed to translate their success adeptly between midgets with wing sprint cars.
The crossover is fairly minimal in most cases outside certain events, but a multi-talented racecar driver is a quick study and can adapt to the feel of a midget or sprint car as long as it has a steering wheel, a seat and four wheels.
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On Wednesday night at Placerville Speedway’s Hangtown 100, Gio Scelzi became the newest member of an exclusive club of 17 drivers who’ve won feature events with both USAC’s NOS Energy Drink National Midget series as well as with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars.
Tuesday night Hangtown 100 winner Kyle Larson’s exploits as a racer are quite well-known with victories ranging from all three of USAC’s National divisions to the World of Outlaws to NASCAR’s Cup Series and even to the 24 Hours of Daytona. Scelzi, meanwhile, has turned heads in becoming the youngest winner in WoO history in 2018 as well as the youngest to score sprint car wins at both Knoxville and Williams Grove.
While not the youngest to ever win a USAC National Midget event – that record belongs to Zeb Wise – at 17, he’s the youngest to accomplish the feat in both series, but it got us to thinking, who else has been able to successfully translate their success from USAC Midgets to the World of Outlaws and vice versa?
Doug Wolfgang’s 140 career WoO victories rank fifth all-time, but he did get one with the USAC Midgets, in 1982, at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
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Brad Sweet’s 50 career WoO wins slot him within the top-20 all-time. He was also a standout on the USAC National Midget trail in the late 2000s, winning 11 times on such famed dirt half-miles as Eldora, Manzanita, Knoxville, Iowa and Belleville, Kans.
Arizonian Ron Shuman won 24 times with WoO and 12 times with USAC, and is one of eight drivers to win with WoO plus all three of USAC’s National divisions: Silver Crown, Sprint and Midget in his career along with Jimmy Sills, Kyle Larson, Jack Hewitt, Wolfgang, Tony Stewart, Rickey Hood and Ken Schrader.
NARC Sprint Car superstar Brent Kaeding notched his one and only USAC National Midget victory in a major way, capturing the 1985 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. to go along with nine with WoO.
Christopher Bell and Rico Abreu have each scored USAC National Midget driving championships in their careers, Bell in 2013 and Abreu in 2014. To this day, they continue to make regular appearances in both series, including this past week at Placerville with USAC. Bell, a second-place finisher Wednesday at the Hangtown 100, has five with WoO and 23 with the USAC Midgets, which ranks 20th all-time. Abreu, meanwhile, has 8 with WoO and 16 with USAC.
A handful of drivers have tallied just one victory in one series or the other in their careers. Rick Goudy, a 1978 CRA Sprint Car champion, scored three USAC Midget wins, including the 1978 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ascot Park to go along with a singular win in the inaugural season of WoO in 1978 at Chula Vista, Calif.
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Jerry Stone got one in each series with a USAC Midget win indoors at the Seattle Kingdome in 1977. Fifteen years later, in 1992, he tallied his lone WoO in Tulsa, Okla. Kevin Swindell won four USAC National Midget races in his career, the first two of which came on pavement with a victory in the 2007 Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Ind. in addition to one WoO triumph in 2006 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Shane Golobic has been a recent standout in USAC National Midgets with a 2016 win indoors at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin as well as a 2017 Indiana Midget Week championship and a runner-up finish in the points for 2017. He reached victory lane with WoO for the second time this September at Placerville.
Larson, Golobic, Scelzi and potential winner Aaron Reutzel, a two-time All Star Sprint Car champ and WoO winner this season in Perris, Calif. and led 15 laps Wednesday at Placerville, are among the contenders at this Saturday’s November Classic at California’s Bakersfield Speedway.