In one week in August, the noisy little thunderbugs drew 65, in the Rose Bowl on a Tuesday night, 17, at Gilmore Stadium on Thursday night and 65, in the Coliseum on Saturday night. Danny Oakes, Dapper Dan to his legion of fans, was one of the mightiest of the midget drivers. And in , he was to become the dominant midget car driver on the West Coast. Dapper Dan is still dapper. Not on the race tracks -- he is 91, after all -- but on the dance floor.
A Little Giant Behind Wheel
Southern California Midget Racing and Gilmore Stadium | The Old Motor
Southern California Midget Racing and Gilmore Stadium
The area soon became a hotbed of midget racing activities, suppliers and shops. Races for the little cars were held at the track from shortly after it opened in until In these photos, some activities at the track can be seen, but most of them cover sponsors and shops that supplied services, parts and engines. Behind the truck on a custom trailer is a midget racer that the chrome shop sponsored.
The car has been restored and is painted in the midnight blue and white 65 livery of the Johnny Balch Offy. Operating out of his race shop located at 53rd and Figueroa in Los Angeles, which was formerly owned by another well-known race car fabricator, Curly Wetteroth, Lesovsky constructed the Balch car as one of a series of five nearly identical cars built during the spring and early summer of That night, the car placed first in its heat race, the helmet dash, and in the feature event. Oakes continued to drive the car for Balch for the remainder of the season where he captured the Gilmore Stadium season championship. At the close of the Gilmore season in , Balch sold the car to Indy driver Chet Miller and a succession of owners and drivers followed.