Wisconsin Midget Racing


Ed Kramer of Wausau, Wis. got into racing in 1950. “We started a club—just a group of fellows who were enthused about ¾-midget racing,” he said during the Iola Old Car Show’s Pace Cars and Race Cars exhibit. “We came from all walks of life; there were guys in the car business, guys who owned gas stations and fellows who had retail stores.”

The men had an idea to form a club and each one built his own car or had help building one. The club lasted four years. “Some of us got hurt doing it and others lost interest,” Ed recalled. Out of 15 or 20 cars that were involved, mine is the only one left in the city [of Wausau].


Ed’s car – built in 1951 – is made from parts of different cars.  The axles are cut-down Model T Ford units. The engine is a 45-cid V-twin from a 1943 Indian Sport Scout motorcycle. A Model T Ford axle is also used up front. All the gears in the rear end were taken out and Kramer put a sprocket on the solid rear axle shafts and a motorcycle chain runs from the transmission to the differential.

According to Kramer today, the cars were built to specs set forth by the northern branch of a national organization for ¾-midget cars. The wheelbase, length, height, and weight all had to conform to the group’s regulations. The engines had to be below a certain number of cubic inches. “This one was all according to the rules,” Kramer said.

“We never went out for real racing,” Kramer explained. “We never had purses of things like that. We did it as a group to put on demonstrations during intermission at the old stock car races in Medford. During a break in the real racing action, the 3/4-midgets would do as little as two laps around the track. “All you did was you tried to get around the guy it front of you.”


Kramer said his father was a Packard dealer until the company went out of business in 1958. Then, they got a Studebaker franchise and that lasted until 1966. After that it was service work and used car sales until the city forced him out of his building to make way for a downtown shopping mall that’s in trouble now. Maybe the city should be building a racetrack that Kramer could race on.

About John Gunnell 136 Articles
John “Gunner” Gunnell has been writing about cars since ‘72. As a kid in Staten Island, N.Y., he played with a tin Marx “Service Garage” loaded with toy vehicles, his favorite being a Hubley hot rod. In 2010, he opened Gunner’s Great Garage, in Manawa, Wis., a shop that helps enthusiasts restore cars. To no one’s surprise, he decorated 3G’s with tin gas stations and car toys. Gunner started writing for two car club magazines. In 1978, publisher Chet Krause hired him at Old Cars Weekly, where he worked from 1978-2008. Hot rodding legend LeRoi “Tex” Smith was his boss for a while. Gunner had no formal journalism training, but working at a weekly quickly taught him the trade. Over three decades, he’s met famous collectors, penned thousands of articles and written over 85 books. He lives in Iola, Wis., with his nine old cars, three trucks and seven motorcycles.

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