Bryan Gapinski, Midget Racing Historian, Passes At 56

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Bryan Gapinski (left) interviews Badger feature winner Bryan Stanfill at Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway on June 8, 2017. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)
Bryan Gapinski (left) interviews Badger feature winner Bryan Stanfill at Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway on June 8, 2017. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)

WAUKESHA, Wis. — After fighting cancer for several years, midget auto racing historian, media person and announcer Bryan Gapinski died Sunday at his home. He was 56.

Gapinski handled media duties and was the announcer for the Wisconsin-based Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n. He was a familiar face at Badger’s “home track” Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wis., which was shuttered this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is tough,” said Badger president Quinn McCabe. “Bryan was a historian. He knew all the history of Badger. He knew everything and everyone in midget racing.

“It seemed like he was around forever. He was our PR guy and announcer. Bryan was a true race fan. He loved to go to the race track. He did a lot for midget racing. I think you’ll never find another one like him.”

Racing go-karts for a while, Gapinski was a young photographer for the Midwest Racing News in the 1980s. He began to contribute stories to MRN and other auto racing publications, including National Speed Sport News.

Gapinski was a midget car owner for a number of years. He represented Hoosier Tire and National Halibrand, the manufacturer of open-wheel drive-train components.

For some 20 years, Gapinski oversaw the National Midget Driver of the Year, an award determining the top national midget driver which used a unique point system based on several factors including car count, purse and event prestige. Tanner Thorson and the late Bryan Clauson were the only three-time winners of the award.

For many years, Gapinski was part of the announcing team for the pay-for-view broadcast of the annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla.

Gapinski was always on the lookout for midget auto racing memorabilia, something that would help document the early days of this segment of racing. Earlier this year, Gapinski had put together several YouTube segments, covering the history of the Badger group, which concluded its 84th season in 2020.

Gapinski is survived by his wife of almost 22 years, Jenna, and two children, daughter, Kailey, and son, Tyler.

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