Much like his competitor, A. J. Foyt, Southern California local Rodger Ward’s pro racing career began early in the midget car scene, of which he first got involved in 1946 after being discharged from the U. S. Army.
Though his racing career started off sluggish, Ward went on to break Offenhauser’s long-standing track record with Vic Edelbrock’s Ford-based, “60 Shaker” motor at Gilmore Stadium on August 10th of 1950.
Edelbrock’s motor was the first to burn nitromethane, and both Edelbrock and Ward would go on to claim a victory on August 11th, 1950 at the Orange Show Stadium. However, it wouldn’t be the first win for the Edelbrock V8-60 as it beat the Offenhausers at Gilmore Stadium the night before. Ward would prove his motor cunning even further by beating some of the most exotic sports cars in class at a Formula Libre race at Lime Rock Park in 1959.
Prior to Ward’s ground-breaking, Formula Libre victory, midget cars were considered competitive only on oval tracks, but Ward and Edelbrock’s amazing accomplishment put midget cars in the more competitive races, and Ward would go on to enter the U. S. Grand Prix for Formula One with the same car under the assumption that it was quicker than the other cars through the turns.
Ward eventually one the USAC’s stock car championship in 1951; like Foyt, stock car racing was just as real a part of his motorsport career as were the much smaller-scale midgets.
The stock car world was one that proved successful for Ward, and it led to his testing and qualifying for the 1951 Indy 500.
Our featured video is of both USAC greats, Ward and Foyt, going at it on the track at Springfield, Illinois’ “100-Miler” during the 1963 racing season.
In the same way that our previous video was a testament to Foyt’s career, this is also a testament, except that here forces go head-to-head to show us how combined forces really can make the sprint car sport an exciting and fantastic venue!