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Newsletter Vol. XV 2018 Ed. #1
Bill Schindler, Mike Caruso Offy #2, Freeport, NY, 1948
At the height of midget racing's golden years in 1947, the American Racing Drivers Club sanctioned more than 24 race meets per week, paid purses averaging more than $3,000 per event, and grew to become the largest midget circuit in the country with total prize money of over $2,000,000 (in 1947 money) paid to ARDC racers. It's easy to understand why the ARDC circuit attracted the greatest number of professional midget racers in the country.
President of ARDC since its inception in 1939 through the 1947 season, Bill Schindler was also the ARDC drivers' champion in 1940, 1945, and 1946. In 1947 Schindler piled up an amazing 53 main event wins, primarily at the wheel of Mike Caruso's #2 Offy, but occasionally driving for Slim Schloeder and others. Incredibly, Schindler's efforts did not produce the ARDC crown, loosing the point chase 12,165 to 11,150 to George Rice, who won 39 times, finished second 24 times and third on ten occasions.
Seventy years ago, Bill Schindler prepared for another all-out assault on the 1948 ARDC midget championship. Schindler relinquished his ARDC presidency to Philadelphia racer, Mike Joseph, who was one of the original ARDC founders and served as ARDC vice-president in '45 and '46.
Schindler returned to Mike Caruso's deuce and Mike Nazaruk was added to the team to steer Caruso's Kurtis-Kraft Offy #3. Nazaruk proved to be a capable teammate, winning three main events in front of capacity crowds at Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, NJ. Mike won the track title at Middletown, NY, taking two wins in the Caruso car and two more driving for Buck Wheeler.
Mike Nazaruk in Mike Caruso's #3 Offy, 1948
Bill Schindler stepped up his midget racing efforts in 1948 and at the end of the campaign he had recorded 53 main event wins for the second straight year. However, at season's end he was crowned the 1948 ARDC midget champion over Chet Conklin and Steve McGrath. Schindler also claimed track titles at Hinchliffe Stadium, West Springfield Speedway in Massachusetts and Civic Stadium in Buffalo, NY.
Bill Schindler cut back his midget activity in 1949, taking over the Ted Horn Estate Offy sprint car on the AAA circuit. Schindler also ran Indy in 1950, 1951, and 1952 to reach the pinnacle of American auto racing. Bill Schindler had lost his left leg in a sprint car crash at Mineola, NY in 1936 and rarely used a prosthesis to drive midgets and sprinters, but employed one at Indy to meet AAA medical requirements. After World War II, Schindler made many visits to veteran's hospitals to inspire soldiers faced with the loss of a limb - just another reason why his legion of fans at the tracks continued to grow.
Bill Schindler in the Earl Beal Offy #2 at Allentown on 9-20-52.
Bill Schindler continued to race AAA sprint cars as an Indy veteran until he crashed the Earl Beal Offy through the backstretch fence at the Allentown Fair on 9-20-52 and sustained fatal injuries. Decades after his death Bill Schindler remains one of the iconic Eastern drivers.