National Midget Auto Racing Hall Of Fame Driver Tommy Astone Passes

Tommy Astone Jr. in 1974. Photo from nmarhof.com.

West coast legendary Midget Auto racing driver Tommy Astone Jr. has passed away while doing some work around his property. Details are pending at this time. Astone was 70 years old.

Tommy Astone had an impressive run in the USAC National Midget series from 1974 through 1976, securing seven victories for his team. He finished runner-up in the final USAC National Midget standings in 1973-1974 and third in 1976, and was in victory lane on four occasions.

Astone was part of a legendary west coast racing family that has been involved in the sport for over 75 years. Growing up in Fresno, California, his father, Tommy Astone Sr., was well known and beloved in the Midget Auto Racing circle as a racer/car owner, fielding drivers such as his son Tommy Jr., and Jimmy Caruthers.

The younger Astone began racing Super Modifieds at the age of 18, before moving into the highly competitive Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) in 1969. Almost immediately, Astone made a mark in the sport by winning a twin 50-lap program at San Jose Speedway, then winning the Western States Midget Championship race at Tahoe-Carson Speedway in 1970.

Despite missing several weeks of racing due to an injury, Astone entered the last BCRA race with a 12-point lead. Needing only to finish the race to will the Championship, he was black-flagged and finished Second in the points championship.

Astone began racing some races under the USAC banner during the 1971 season, along with the BCRA, USRC, and URA Midget racing clubs. In 1972, he launched his first full season in the USAC Midget series where he finished seventh in the points standings and named Rookie of the Year.

He won his first USAC Midget race on June 20, 1973, in Burlington, Iowa. He finished the season as runner up to Larry Rice for the Championship. The following year Astone spent the season holding second place most of the season. A crash at Clovis Speedway sidelined the racer for the final two races of the season, but he had accumulated enough points to finish in Second place in the USAC Midget Championship again.

Tommy Astone at the Imperial Raceway in November of 1987 in the Terry Caves #44 Midget. Photo from the Imperial Fairgrounds Facebook Fanpage.

Astone finished 1976 in Third place for the USAC Midget Championship before returning back to the west coast to focus on BCRA racing. His USAC Midget career includes seven USAC national wins and five USAC Western States Midget wins. Tommy Astone Jr. was inducted into the Bay Cities Racing Association Hall of Fame in 2009

He was selected to the National Midget Auto Racing Hall Of Fame in 2018, along with Mario Andretti, Bryan Clauson, Kenny Irwin Jr., Bobby Marshman, and Mike Streicher. With the passing of Astone, Andretti is the only living member of this latest class of Midget Racing HoFers.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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