DAVE STRICKLAND NAMED MANZANITA MIDGET GRAND MARSHAL Dave Strickland, one of USAC's top Midget racers of the 1960s and 1970s, has been named Grand Marshal for the long-awaited return of the USAC National Midget Series to Manzanita ...
DAVE STRICKLAND NAMED MANZANITA MIDGET GRAND MARSHAL
Dave Strickland, one of USAC's top Midget racers of the 1960s and 1970s, has been named Grand Marshal for the long-awaited return of the USAC National Midget Series to Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. on Saturday night, November 21 - the Remax "Duel in the Desert."
Strickland, now living in Englewood, Colo., nearly won the 1970 USAC National Midget Championship, losing that year's crown to Jimmy Caruthers by a slim 12 points! He also finished third in the 1969 and 1971 series and recorded 24 USAC National Midget feature victories during his storied career. A frequent competitor in the winter series in New Zealand, he won the 1972 and 1973 "World Midget Derby" and "Bob Tattersall Memorial." He also tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but never was able to earn a starting berth in the "500."
Although he never won at Manzanita in several outings, he remembers one night vividly when he should have won the feature. He remembers winning the dash, then in the feature he and George Snider tangled and Dave's car went into a series of vicious flips, knocking down a light pole in the process. He was out of racing for several months with numerous injuries, including a broken shoulder and seven broken ribs.
Dave's son, Dave, Jr., is now a frequent USAC Midget participant and has scored five USAC National Midget wins himself, including one at Lincoln, Neb. in 1996.
The Phoenix race is the first of three which will conclude the 1998 USAC racing calendar and will be pivotal in determining the 1998 USAC National Midget Champion. Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif. leads Jay Drake of Val Verde, Calif. by only 10 points going into the race on Manzanita's fast half-mile. Ricky Shelton of Huntington Beach, Calif. is only 78 behind Leffler in third. Drake and Shelton are battling for the final berth in the December 3-4 Indy Racing League test session being provided by the Pennzoil Panther Racing Team at Texas Motor Speedway. The USAC campaign ends with races November 25-26 at Bakersfield, Calif. and November 28 at Las Vegas, Nev.
A 30-lap feature event caps the Manzanita program, which also affords USAC "Western States" Midget points. Rick Hendrix of Simi Valley, Calif. leads Bryan Stanfill of Bakersfield, Calif. by only 42 points in their battle for that championship.