The American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) organized in 1939, predating NASCAR by nearly a decade. Its president, Shannon Mausteller, recently announced the midget sanctioning body will not have any races in 2024.
“It is tough to book races when you have six to seven cars showing up for an event,” Maustellar, of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, said. “The club still lives, the name still lives, but we don’t know what will happen in the future.”
In its post-WWII heyday, the club drew large fields of cars on both dirt and paved ovals. Bill Schindler, who once raced the Indy 500 with a prosthetic leg, served as the group’s first president. Even Mario Andretti competed in the sanction’s events during the early 1960s.
As recently as the 1990s, ARDC held races that required drivers to qualify into the feature through consolation events.
“Competition from every other open wheel division on the East Coast,” said Maustellar of the reasons for ARDC’s decline. “It seems everyone wants to be a sprint car driver. Pennsylvania is sprint car country. There are so many divisions of sprint cars, from micros to 410s, winged and non-wing.”
Mausteller prefers the ARDC midget over a traditional sprint car.
“The appeal of the ARDC midget for me is it is more reactive, more fun,” Mausteller said. “Everything happens quicker when the right rear is 82″ or 84″ [the permitted sizes in ARDC] compared to a sprint car, with a 105″ right rear.”
Last year, ARDC traveled to tracks mostly in Pennsylvania and the immediate surrounding area.
“Will the future appeal of midget racing bring the ARDC schedule back?” said Mausteller. “I can’t say for sure. Judging by the reaction we got, I think people knew the writing was on the wall. We got a lot of ‘sad to see you go’ type of messages, but not any ‘what can we do to have ARDC come back’ type of messages so far.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.