Australian midget team packing their bags for Belleville, Kansas

MELBOURNE, Australia (March 3, 2001) - The annual Belleville Midget Nationals, held each August in the small rural Kansas township made famous by this classic event, will be the destination of the Australian midget auto racing team of Rodney ...

MELBOURNE, Australia (March 3, 2001) - The annual Belleville Midget Nationals, held each August in the small rural Kansas township made famous by this classic event, will be the destination of the Australian midget auto racing team of Rodney Hudson-Davies and Leroy Beasley. They will be accompanied by Rodney's wife, Tina, and their two sons, Ashley and Aiden, together with Leroy's wife, Michele.

The Belleville race has long been one of the U.S midget calendar's major events since it was inaugurated in 1978. The high-banked track and almost circular shape that practically eliminates distinct turns, gives rise to spectacular speeds, making it the fastest half-mile dirt track in America.

It has drawn many visitors from "Down Under" to witness the awesome magnetic attraction of the mighty midgets as they circulate at 120 mph. It's even seen entries from Australian and New Zealand drivers over the years.

This season Hudson-Davies and Beasley will be fulfilling ambitions to visit this midwest Mecca of midget racing. Knowing Rodney as I do, you can bet he'll be sweating it out with every driver that laps those Belleville high banks as if he was behind the wheel himself. As one of Victoria's leading drivers (he was VSDA top points scorer early in the season), there's no doubt he'll be soaking up the full atmosphere of this prestigious event.

With an accomplished record of achievement while driving mini-sprints from 1989 to 1999, with State Championship and Rosedale class and outright club titles to his name Rodney also found time to fill the role on the Rosedale Speedway club committee to which he made a profound contribution.

Now he has graduated to the midget ranks where he has settled in very well since teaming up with Leroy and Michele Beasley to drive their Cosworth powered midget and is in his second season with them. He took a brief break from the mini-sprints in 1997 for his first taste of midget racing with six outings in the Rob Southouse Volvo/JSR but felt he needed a better car under him before fully committing himself to the class. He then spent a season as crew chief and sponsor to Troy Jordan and his Autocraft midget.

Now his career in midget auto racing has taken a more positive direction since becoming part of the Beasley team and Rod is convinced the path will carry him on to bigger and better things as the midget division is where he wants to be.

As for Leroy himself, he is a third generation member of the legendary Beasley midget auto racing dynasty. Beginning with grandfather Arthur, one of the original pioneers who introduced the midgets in Australia at Melbourne's Olympic Park Speedway back in 1934 and a leading driver of the pre-war era. Leroy's father Stud and uncle Alf became icons of midget racing. Stud began racing in 1937 at age 16 in a career that spanned over 36 years to become one of Australia's all time greats.

His younger brother, Alf, was also an ace driver of the mighty midgets who unfortunately was killed in a race smash in 1958. Leroy's older brother, Clark, started racing midgets in 1970 but cut short a promising career when he suddenly retired and then decided to take up residence on the U.S. West Coast in the mid 1980's where he introduced and became heavily committed to electric car racing in California.

Leroy continued the family tradition when he took up driving his own midget but then made a calculated decision to find a more talented driver to chauffeur his car.

Enter Rodney Hudson-Davies.

Now the partnership has taken the pair to become traveling companions and come next August their first stop off in the USA will be to take in the famous Belleville Midget Nationals in their quest to further their knowledge in midget auto racing to which they are both firmly dedicated.

The Belleville High Banks, located in Belleville, Kan., is managed by a volunteer racing committee that host 10-12 racing events annually. "The World's Fastest Half-Mile Dirt Track" allows drivers the rare opportunity to run "wide open" the entire track, and the sweeping oval is one of the most demanding test of endurance and skill for drivers. The track's mainstay is the annual Belleville Midget Nationals, held every year during the first weekend in August. As the nation's most prestigious midget car race of the year, the best equipment, owners and drivers flock to the small rural community of 3,500, which is transformed into a racing Mecca of more than 30,000 people each August.

For more information on the Belleville High Banks, write to: Belleville High Banks, P.O. Box 349, Belleville, KS 66935, or call (785) 527-6050. Sponsorship inquiries may call or fax (402) 761-3676 or via e-mail at wdake@alltel.net. Information is also available on the World Wide Web by logging on to http://www.highbanks.org or http://www.whowon.com.

Reserved tickets for the 24th Annual Belleville Midget Nationals are available by calling (785) 527-5179, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

-Jeff Nun

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Series Midget