Midget racing began in the United States in the 1930s, quickly spreading to Australia and beyond. Racing historian Gordon White once wrote, “At their best, the midgets were gleaming little cars that raced under the lights on tracks small enough that they were almost in the laps of the spectators. They snarled and roared in a wheel-to-wheel brand of racing more closely competitive that that usually seen anywhere else, even at Indianapolis.”
Midget cars have four cylinder engines, 300 to 400 horsepower and weigh 1,000 pounds (450 kg). The high power and small size of the cars combine to make midget racing quite dangerous; for this reason, modern midget cars are fully equipped with roll cages and other safety features. They are intended for races of relatively short distances, usually 2.5 to 25 miles (4 to 40 km). Some events are staged inside arenas, most notably the Chili Bowl held in early January at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, OK.
Many IndyCar and NASCAR drivers, including Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Mario Andretti, used midget car racing as an intermediate stepping stone on their way to more high profile divisions. Midget racing currently has 3 sanctioning bodies in the United States, which include the United States Automobile Club (USAC), the Badger Midget Auto Racing Association (BMARA) and POWRi Midget Racing.