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3/4 Midgets – Exciting Racing On A Budget

3/4 Midget racing action. [John Wiedemann Photo]

3/4 Midget racing action. [John Wiedemann Photo]

 

Turk’s Tracks

A Few Loose Lug Nuts from Pit Row

by Gene Turk

In a previous article, I discussed the formation of the Legend Car Series and how the Legend Cars might be a good starting option for those that wanted to begin a racing career. Another option for those that enjoy the excitement of open cockpit, open-wheel racing might be 3/4 midgets which allows you to also keep your racing costs down.

Surprisingly, 3/4 midgets, also called TQ midgets, have been around since about 1950. The earliest recorded events took place on the east coast. The idea behind the cars was simple, build a car close in size to a midget, install a motorcycle engine, and go race on a clay oval track. About this same time, this type of race car was also getting started here in Wisconsin. In 1951, my father build a racecar that followed the 3/4 midget design concept. At that time, they were known as micro-midgets. The cars were powered by British Triumph or BSA motorcycle engines and had the engine placed behind the driver. My father drove his race car through the mid-50’s and raced on tracks throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and eastern Iowa on county fairground dirt tracks. So how have the TQ midgets changed over the years?

The Midwest TQ Midgets specifies the racecar as the following. A four-wheeled, open cockpit, open-wheeled, single seat vehicle fabricated for racing purposes with an active driveline between the driver’s legs. Power comes from various motorcycle engines ranging from 700 cc for four valve heads to 840 cc for two valve heads at approximately 135 HP while running on 115 octane racing fuel. Minimum weight should be 800 pounds with fuel, oil, water, and driver. Wheel base is to be between 58 and 65 inches. Also, cars must be self-starting. Their rules state that these are to be non-wing cars. However, other clubs do run winged cars.

One of the things that are unique about the TQ midgets is that they race both outdoors on clay oval tracks and indoors on paved tracks. The advantage is that the indoor racing season starts in January and is never rained out. As an example, the Atlantic City track begins indoor racing on the 3rd week of January. Indoor tracks are also operating in Trenton, NJ and Rochester, NY. Closer to home is the Cedar Lake track in New Richmond, WI. They have invested $100,000 in a state of the art ventilation system to keep the spectators lungs free of the exhaust fumes and preventing a blue haze from hanging over the track.

So now that you have all of the particulars on TQ midgets, what is the cost? One option is to buy a manufactured chassis for a few hundred dollars and build the car up from there. Popular engines are the Suzuki GSXR and the Kawasaki equivalent. A quick check of engines for sale shows a price of $2,000 for a race ready Kawasaki engine. A new race car will probably be in the $10,000 to $ 14,000 range. A quick check on used TQ midgets for sale finds a four year old car for sale for $4,000 that needs its engine “refreshed”. Race ready cars are seen for $4,500 to $8,500.

So there you have a snapshot overview of TQ midgets. If you are interested in attending a TQ midget race, check with your local track or do a google search on what track near you has scheduled TQ midget races. The races are usually 6 cars per heat race that will last for 10 laps. The feather race is usually 16 cars for 25 laps. These little pocket rockets never disappoint in putting on some very close wheel to wheel exciting racing. An interesting side note is that the TQ’s lap times can be very close to the full size midgets.

 

 

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Gene Turk
Gene Turk was born with racing in his blood. At age 8 he started racing Quarter Midgets as member of the Great Milwaukee Quarter Midget club. For five years he raced the #7 car that his father built. He then graduated from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Internal Combustion Engineering. While in college he obtained his Private Pilot’s License. Along the way he has attended numerous Indy car and stock car races at the Milwaukee Mile during the 60s, 70sand 80s along with area Midget car races. He would also frequently fly to the Brickyard to watch the Indy 500 time trials in the 60s and 70s and more recently attended the 2014 Indy 500. He has also attended numerous sports car and NASCAR races at Elkhart Lake Road America. Finally, Gene has owned many classic cars including his present 1990 Corvette and is a self-described “Gear Head.”