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Ventura USAC Midget Thanksgiving GP

Ventura USAC Midget Thanksgiving GP
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Photos by Albert Wong
LOS ANGELES – Annual sponsor Automotive Racing Products of Ventura (a leading supplier of automotive fasteners) added $15,000 to the USAC Thanksgiving Midget Grand Prix this year on Saturday, November 27 at Ventura Raceway. ARP spread the money from first to last positions so more drivers would benefit from the additional money. It paid $600 to start the feature. Semi-main non-transferees (P. 5 and lower) received $200 each--an increase of $100 per position more than past Turkey Night GP events.
 
First time Thanksgiving Midget GP winner Logan Seavey, 24, collected $10,000 (Tulsa Chili Bowl Saturday A-main winning amount) instead of the usual $6,000. Runner-up Buddy Kofoid, who turned 20 on December 2, earned $5,000 instead of $3,000. Third place Mitchel Moles, 21, received $3,500 instead of the usual $2,000. P.10 paid $1,000, an increase of $225. Other payoffs were $800 for P.15 and $675 each for positions 23-26. Last place paid $150 more than last year.
The best finishing “double duty” driver in the 360 cu. in. sprint car and midget main events November 27 received a $500 bonus from ARP. Five double duty drivers were eligible. The winner was Ryan Bernal, who placed second in the sprint 30 lapper (No. 57) and seventh in the midget 98-lap GP in No. 87w. Runners-up in order were: Chase Randall (P 5 sprint and P11 midget); Carson Macedo (P3 sprint and P18 midget); Chase Johnson (P6 sprint sand P21 midget); and Cory Eliason (P15 sprint and P26 midget). ... No. 57 Eagle sprint car owner Paul Silva (crew chief on Kyle Larson's two midgets) told me he does not build his race cars. He has respected northern California race car fabricator Rod Tiner construct them.
 
TNGP Drivers Home States: Midget drivers came 12 states as follows: California – 32; Oklahoma – six; Indiana – three; Texas – two, plus one each from Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Washington. Sprint car drivers came from three states – California--26 and one each from Oklahoma and Texas.
 
CHASSIS / ENGINES- 50 Midgets: There were six midget chassis led by 29 Spikes. Next most popular was Bullet by Spike with ten, Triple X – five, King – four, and one each by CS9 and Edmunds. There were nine midget engines. Speedway Toyota led with 20. Stanton SR-11X supplied 12, Esslinger five, 1 Way Chevy--three, and two each from Ed Pink Toyota. Fontana, Standridge (a Chevy and a Fontana), Stanton SR-11, and Van Dyne (a Mopar and a Chevy).
 
The 28 sprint cars had 13 chassis builders. Maxim led with 11. Triple X followed with four. There were two each from Eagle, Ellis, and Spike. One car came from CS9, DRC, KPC, 777, Stinger, Tiner, and TCR. Engines: Chevy had 14. Two came from builders Bailey Bros., May, and Shark. Fisher, Engle, Lawrence, RC Performance, S & S, Timmons, Van Dyne, and VSR all built one engine.
TROPHIES: TNGP trophies were displayed on a table in the pits. They included the perpetual Aggie Trophy with a bronzed Stetson hat worn by the late race organizer J. C.Agajanian. Aggie, the Indy 500 winning car owner in 1952 and 1963, revived the TNGP in 1955. The Stetson is perched atop the trophy at a forward angle. The three-tiered wooden base includes individual metal plaques with the name, year, and track of each TNGP winner since the inaugural race in 1934. Ron Shuman's name appears eight times. The Aggie Trophy inspiration was the famous Indianapolis 500 Borg-Warner Trophy that has the name, victory year, and face of each winner on it.
 
The Indianapolis 500 also presents an annual rookie of the year award since 1952 for the highest finishing rookie. The TNGP Don Basile Rookie of the Race Trophy (for the highest finishing TNGP competitor regardless of racing experience) is highlighted by a stainless steel ice bucket with a midget on top. It is a 1950s-60s era trophy dash actual award. Metal plaques on the base are etched with the names of all rookie winners since the award originated in 1998 after the passing of Don Basile. His son Bob suggested the award to honor the NSCHoF inductee/race promoter and Agajanian's long-time right hand man. The winner each year initially received $200 cash. That award later increased to $500.
TNGP Winner Trophy: Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor as usual built a unique and coveted trophy that went to the midget feature winner. This year he built a pair of one-sixth scale model midgets--a 1934 midget (No. 34) on the left side and a modern day roll cage silver midget (No. 80 for the 80th running of the TNGP) on the right side. Jim said it took about three months to assemble all the parts necessary and construct the innovative trophy during his busy schedule.
 
Jim said he plans to paint the No. 80 car in the colors and number with sponsors of the winning car. It will be black and white, No. 25 with sponsor Trench Shoring on the hood when winners Tom Malloy and Logan Seavey take permanent possession of their trophy. Tom will place it among his outstanding collection of famous open-wheel and Indy 500 cars, driver helmets, and racing paraphernalia in Corona. Tom calls the site his “garage” because he also restores famous race cars there.
 
Californians Malloy and his crew chief/two-time USAC Western driving champion Jerome Rodela, 40, from El Monte, and crewman Chris Trammel, from Ventura, were elated to win their first TNGP. That was a major goal. Malloy funded the team's relocation to Indiana for the 2021 season and opened a new race shop (in an ex-school building). They raced in all 40 USAC National Midget 2021 events. They won two features—at Lawrenceburg, Indiana on June 5 and Ventura's TNGP. Malloy also fielded a No. 25m midget in which Colby Copeland finished 16th in the TNGP. Seavey, the 2018 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Driving Champion, finished sixth in 2021 USAC national midget driver points and Malloy's No. 25 King/Ed Pink Toyota placed fifth in final entrant point standings.