Create a free account to unlock this article!
Already a subscriber? Log In
In every year of the Western World Championship’s half-a-century-plus existence, Sprint Cars have maintained an integral presence in the event in a variety of different variations and sanctions.
However, in 11 of those 52 past editions of Western World, midget racing has also been included on the event card, as they will be once again with the USAC NOS Energy Drink National & Western States Midgets this weekend, Nov. 13-14 at Arizona Speedway for the 53rd running presented by San Tan Ford, a two-night doubleheader with the AMSOIL USAC CRA & Southwest Sprint Cars.
Like the sprint cars, the midgets at Western World have not only intertwined their involvement with a number of different sanctioning bodies, but also at a variety of tracks since the closure of the event’s mainstay of Manzanita Speedway at the conclusion of 2009.
The Mighty Midgets of Arizona sanctioned the first such midget appearances at Western World between 1985 and 1988 at Manzanita. The same familiar names seemed to resonate at the top of the midget running order as did the sprint cars. Tempe’s Lealand McSpadden, who captured three Western World Sprint Car victories in 1978-93-95 in his own right, also won twice in the midget in 1985 and 1987.
Ron Shuman (Tempe, Ariz.), owner of five Western World Sprint Car victories in 1975-77-81-84-94, also scored a win with the Midgets in the event during the 1986 running. Seven-time Arizona Midget Racing Association and two-time World of Outlaws midget champion, "Cactus" Jack Yeley, father of five-time USAC National champion J.J. Yeley, was victorious in the Midget portion of Western World in 1988.
Gary Faucett took top midget honors of the unsanctioned variety at Western World in 1989. The Arizona Midget Racing Association headed event of 1991 brought another Western World triumph for Shuman. Bob Broseman and Josh Pelkey won non-sanctioned midget shows at Western World in 1992 and 1995, respectively. Pelkey later went on to become the Arizona Sprint Car Association king in 1997.
Following an 18-year absence, the midgets returned to the Western World program in 2013 at Peoria, Arizona’s Canyon Speedway Park, this time, for the first time, under the USAC National & Western States umbrella. There, Bryan Clauson snagged a memorable victory on the final corner from Darren Hagen.
The night belonged to BC as he later notched the win in the USAC Southwest Sprint Car feature, becoming the first and only driver to win a sprint and midget feature on the same night during Western World, which was sandwiched between his two other WW sprint wins in 2012 and 2015.
Hagen found his redemption a year later in 2014 at Western World in winning the midget race at Canyon. Five years later, in 2019, USAC Midgets debuted at Arizona Speedway for Western World with Brady Bacon dominating the midget from start to finish on the final night en route to winning after earlier tallying 360 c.i. sprint wins in 2009-16-18 and with the 410 c.i. in 2010. Kevin Thomas Jr. won the opening night.
Western World activities at Arizona Speedway begin this Thursday night, Nov. 12, with open practice for both sprint cars and midgets. Pits open at 3pm MT with on-track practice from 6:30-9:30pm . Adult pit passes are $30 while pit passes are $10 for kids age 7-12 and free for kids ages 6 and under. Thursday night’s practice will feature an extra treat with the Beaver Stripes Racer Appreciation BBQ dinner.
On both Friday and Saturday night, Nov. 13-14, the pits open at 1pm MT, grandstands at 3pm and racing at 6:30pm. General admission adult tickets are $30, while kids 11 and under are just $10. Pit passes are $40 for adults and $15 for ages 7-12 and free for ages 6 and under.
The previous year’s Western World Midget winners include Kevin Thomas Jr. and Brady Bacon, who each raced their way to San Tan Ford / Beaver Stripes victory lane in 2019.
Western World tickets are on sale now at www.arizonaspeedway.net.
Both nights of the 53rd Western World Championships will be streamed live on FloRacing at https://bit.ly/2ZpafUr.
PAST WESTERN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS MIDGET WINNERS:
1985: Lealand McSpadden (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1986: Ron Shuman (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1987: Lealand McSpadden (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1988: Jack Yeley (Mighty Midgets of Arizona)
1989: Gary Faucett (Midget)
1991: Ron Shuman (Arizona Midget Racing Association)
1992: Bob Broseman (Midget)
1995: Josh Pelkey (Midget)
2013: Bryan Clauson (USAC Midget)
2014: Darren Hagen (USAC Midget)
2019: Brady Bacon (USAC Midget)