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George Duvall built Southern California Plating delivery truck

Southern California Midget Racing and Gilmore Stadium

Earl Bell Gilmore, son of Gilmore Oil Company founder Arthur Fremont Gilmore was a natural at using motor sports to help promote the Company that was the largest independent oil company on the West Coast at the time. In addition to sponsoring automobile and air racing activities, he was responsible for Gilmore Stadium being built in Los Angeles, California, it opened in 1934.

It was excellent timing on Gilmore’s part as his new venue opened less than a year after one of the first midget auto races was held on June 4, 1933 at Hughes Stadium, in Sacramento, California. One of the first midget races held in Southern California, was at the Loyola High School Stadium in Los Angeles on August 10, 1933. 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 1934 until 1950.

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. The lead photo at the top of the post shows the Southern California Plating Company 1935 Ford delivery truck that was customised by George DuVall and finished in 1936. Behind the truck on a custom trailer is a midget racer that the chrome shop sponsored. Just below can be seen a photo of the Don Lee Special driven by Carl Young for the Cadillac Agency. Fred Offenhauser can also be seen below assembling one of his midget racing engines.

The photos are courtesy of the Revs Institute. You can view other interesting posts here on The Old Motor covering the Gilmore Oil Company. If you can identify any of the individuals or the cars seen in the photos please let us know.

Don Lee Offenhauser Special driven by Carl Young at Gilmore Stadium

Don Lee Special driven by Carl Young.

Worker smoothing an aluminum tail section with a vixen file on an Offenhauser powered midget

Worker smoothing an aluminum tail section with a vixen file.

A Gilmore sponsored midget racer powered by an Offenhauser

A Gilmore sponsored machine.

Fred Offenhauser assembling a midget engine

Fred Offenhauser with one of his midget engines.

Joel Thorne in the Allen Offenhauser Special at Gilmore Stadium

Joel Thorne in the Allen Offenhauser Special.

Gilmore Stadium midget racer powered by and Offenhauser engine

Gilmore Stadium Midget Racer in a shop

Midget Racing at Gilmore Stadium

13 responses to “Southern California Midget Racing and Gilmore Stadium

  1. My father, when a young boy – 12 yo I believe – was a “starter” at Gilmore. In his records, which are in my possession, I have a couple of photographs of races, one of which the vehicle is in a mid air flip. I also have copies of race ‘programs’. If interested in adding this to your page here, please let me know!

  2. I am looking for info on Harry Hart, midget racer in the ’30-’40’s from Hollywood, CA. He raced in the first midget races at the North Central Kansas Free Fair on the Belleville High Banks in ’41, taking home the most money of the entrants that week. thanks for any help you may provide

  3. My father Carl John Kroells II (Joe) raced a 3/4 midget powerd by a flathead harley davidson engine in California. Does anyone remember him?

  4. My dad suffered from a neck injury that he stated happened when he was racing midgets after the war in the Los Angeles area and had an accident where he flipped and ended up upside down in the grandstands. He didn’t talk about it much more than that. A story on CBS studios took me to a web page on Gilmore Stadium and then your site. The pictures on your site would back up what he was staying about the seating right next to the track. Would anyone happen to have any results or pictures showing his name, Joe Gates? I know he spent some time in the LA area after the war however he was from Wisconsin if that helps too. Thanks!

  5. Attn: Bob Gates,

    My dad, Carl (Joe) Kroells was in the WWII and dreamed of nothing more that racing midgets. That was the greatest generation what ever lived! He resided in the Los Angeles area mostly, but later moved to Porterville, Ca and I remember going to the track with him just watch the midgets run. I grew up in Burbank, CA and so the track wasn’t too far from Burbank and was most likely in the LA County area. I don’t remember the name of this particular track. I was watchin Ralph Story on PBS last night about all the places come and gone in California and the Gilmore Track was one of them. They showed a clip of the midgets running at Gilmore and all I could think about was my running with the pack. So many of these guys are in the 90’s now or passed on, so I don’t expect anyone to remember my dad. Maybe is running with pack in Heaven. I guess I’ll find out when I meet him again some day. Thanks for listening.

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