The American Racing Drivers Club was organized in 1939 by a group of East Coast midget drivers and car owners for the purpose of looking after the interests of fellow midget drivers and owners. Bill Schindler was elected its first president and virtually every midget driver in the East signed up.
ARDC is governed by a Board, which consists of a president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, driver’s representative, owner’s representative, and a member at large. A trustee is elected into office for a three-year term. Elections occur at a general membership meeting held in November. The Board of Governors usually meet once a month to discuss matters of the club.
ARDC members include lifetime members, owners, drivers, owner/driver combinations, crew members, associate members, working officials and the press. Over the years, drivers such as Mario Andretti, Nick Fornoro Senior and Junior, Larry Dickson, Johnny Parsons Jr., Ron ‘Sleepy’ Tripp, Jan Opperman, Bobby Marshman, Tom Bigelow, Smokey Snellbaker, Mitch Smith, Mel Kenyon, Wally Dallenbach, Len Duncan, Leigh Earnshaw Jr., Pancho Carter, Billy Hughes, and many more have come from the ranks of ARDC.
ARDC, having no ‘home’ track, travels to speedways throughout the Eastern Atlantic region. It retains its own entourage of officials including a starter, race director, an announcer, scorer and pit stewards.
In a single season ARDC sanctions or co-sanctions approximately 20 races ranging from New York to North Carolina. They can race on dirt ovals varying in size from one-quarter mile to five-eighths mile.
An ARDC show consists of two or three heat races, usually eight to ten laps in length. Followed up with a twenty to twenty-five lap feature race. The cars are lined up according to an established ARDC handicapping system.
ARDC averages 30 registered drivers per year. Their experience varies from the first year rookie to the seasoned veteran of twenty years or more.
The drivers come from all walks of life with most of them being a ‘blue collar’ member of the work force. Many have developed their driving skills racing a micro sprint or quarter midget although some have seen duty in the three-quarter midgets, late model stock cars and sprint car divisions (URC, 358, 410).
The midget chassis registered with ARDC come from established builders like Stealth, Beast, Ellis, Drinan, Striker, Hawk and Beaber. The vast majority of engines are a four cylinder in-line configuration. The professionally built engines come from the better known shops such as Brayton, Gearte, Fontana, Snyder, and Skat. They are identified by their cylinder head in combination with the engine builder for example …. Brayton Ford, Gearte SB2, Pontiac, Olds Quad 4, Brayton Alan Johnson, Gearte – 12 (dash 12), etc. Occasionally you will see a Skat V-4, a Chevy V-6, or an in-line Ford 6 cylinder.
ARDC employs the stringent safety rules that are generally accepted nationwide. In general, they must have a full roll cage made of aircraft grade moly tubing, the thickness and diameter as specified in the rulebook. A five point seatbelt system is used and must be replaced with new every three years. All cars must have an aircraft type fuel bladder with alcohol being the only type of fuel accepted. All drivers must wear fire-resistant suits, underwear, gloves, socks, and hood. Arm restraints are mandatory as they keep the drivers arms within the cockpit should the car be involved in a rollover situation. A top wing can be used (promoters option.) The wing aids in stability and traction and is primarily found on midgets racing in the eastern United States. The wheels are made of a lightweight material, are limited to 13 inches in diameter and a maximum width of 10 inches on the right rear of the chassis. An 8-inch width is the maximum width for the other three corners.