Back in the Day” – Racing at Chicago’s Soldier Field …

Posted: February 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

By: Stan Kalwasinski — “Back in the Day” –

United States Auto Club (USAC) midgets use to visit Chicago’s Soldier Field pretty much every year from 1957 until 1966 with the exception of 1959 when the asphalt track was torn out for the summer-long Pan American Games.

Wisconsin’s Frank Burany won the first USAC midget feature held at “The Field” on June 8, 1957. Burany, who was a big winner at Soldier Field in the pre-USAC days, beat Andy Linden and Tony Bettenhausen to the checkered flag in the 50-lap headliner that night.

Frank Burany won a lot of feature races at Soldier Field. The Wisconsin driver is pictured in Tony Saylor’s roadster midget in 1963. (Vince Mayer Photo)

Over the years, drivers like Eddie Johnson, Leroy Warriner, Gene Hartley, Jimmy Davies, Tommy Copp, Johnny Riva, Chuck Rodee and Mike McGreevy were USAC winners at Soldier Field.

Before a small crowd, McGreevy defeated Jimmy Knight and Bob Wente in the last USAC event held there – a 50 lapper on July 23, 1966. Over the years, numerous Indianapolis 500 drivers would appear for the midget competition, including future ‘500’ winners A.J. Foyt and Parnelli Jones.

Two years before his Indianapolis 500 win, Parnelli Jones receives a Bardahl racing jacket for setting the night’s “fast time” on July 1, 1961.

Driver Parnelli Jones, Announcer Bill Wilson and a registered USAC doctor join in the presentation. (Wayne Bryant Photo)

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