McIntosh Hopes To Join Exclusive USAC Company

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McIntosh Hopes To Join
Cannon McIntosh is aiming for his second-straight Shamrock Classic victory this weekend. (Jacob Seelman photo)

DUQUOIN, Ill. – In racing, there are instances where a driver takes an immediate liking to a track for one reason or another.

Maybe it’s the speed, the technicality of the place or it just might be hitting the right setup right off the bat.

Like a duck to water, there have been several individuals who’ve won their first two career NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series events at the same track.

Cannon McIntosh hopes to become the next in line to accomplish the feat on March 7 during the fifth annual Shamrock Classic at the Southern Illinois Center, the site his breakthrough victory one year ago.

The 17-year-old came oh-so-close to victory number two during the 2019 season, finishing in the runner-up spot at both Gas City’s Indiana Midget Week round as well as the 79th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura, Calif., where he led a race-high 67 laps.

One hitch in the statistic is that no driver has ever repeated a USAC victory at the sixth-mile indoor dirt oval at the Southern Illinois Center.  Eleven tries have seen 11 different winners since the club’s debut there in 2005.

Furthermore, for all four previous Shamrock Classic winners, it’s been their first career USAC National Midget feature win.

However, records are meant to be broken. On occasion, skipping vinyl records (and racing records) will repeat, and these are among those who’ve repeated their first victory at one track with another triumph at the same venue.

Gays Biro was the first to do so at Motor City Speedway in Detroit, Mich., during USAC’s inaugural 1956 season, as was Jimmy Knight, who doubled up at Indiana’s Sportsdrome that same year.

Frank Burany caught his first two USAC Midget wins in 1957 at Soldier Field, which to this day still serves as the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.  Joe Garson scored just two career USAC wins, with both coming at California’s Gardena Stadium in 1958.

Johnny Roberts, meanwhile, notched his first in 1958 at “Little” Springfield Speedway, then scored again after a two-year absence from victory lane when the series returned to the famed, but now defunct, Illinois dirt oval in 1960.

Bobby Marshman, the co-rookie of the year with Parnelli Jones at the 1961 Indianapolis 500, notched his first two at the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Trenton, where he first won a 250-mile race on the one-mile paved oval in 1961 in a shared drive with three-time USAC National Midget Series champion Jimmy Davies.

That race marked the only time in USAC National Midget history in which two drivers were listed as the race winner. Marshman did so again, this time as the lone winning driver, a year later in 1962 at Trenton.

Allen Heath, the National Midget Hall of Famer who raced with the aid of a hook on his left arm following a racing accident earlier in his career, won his first two in 1963 and 1964 at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif., as did Bob Hogle in 1964 and 1965 and Tony Simon in 1972 and 1979, the first of which came during the prestigious Turkey Night Grand Prix.

George Snider, the inaugural Silver Crown champion in 1971 and a 22-time Indianapolis 500 starter, tallied his initial two at the Kearney Bowl in his native Fresno, Calif.

Cotton Farmer practically owned Mesquite, Texas’ Devil’s Bowl Speedway in 1966, winning the only two USAC midget races ever held at the legendary track.

Bob Hare was seemingly an indoor midget specialist, with all three of his USAC midget wins coming under a roof, including his first two at Ohio’s Cincinnati Gardens in 1967 and 1968.

Roger West controlled Santa Fe Speedway in Hinsdale, Ill., for victories in 1968 and 1969, while Jim McClean put up his first two on the board at the half-mile in suburban Chicago in 1971 and 1972.

Steve Lotshaw, who’d eventually become the 1979 USAC National Midget driving champion, got his first two series wins indoors three years apart in 1976 and 1979. Jeff Nuckles repeated victories at the Indianapolis Speedrome in 1979 and 1981.

Dave Strickland Jr. was a perennial master when the USAC midgets headed to the Rockies, but his first two series wins came seven years apart, both at Colorado National Speedway.

During the decades of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, Indianapolis Raceway Park served as a pivotal launching point for many careers on ESPN’s Thursday and Saturday Night Thunder series.

Jack Calabrase won his only two career series features in 1988 at IRP, which is now known as Lucas Oil Raceway. Don Schilling became the next to get his first two at IRP in 1989, followed by four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon that same year.

Others that followed at IRP included NHRA standout Doug Kalitta (1992), Dan Drinan (1992), Brian Gerster (1994 and 1995) and Chuck Gurney Jr. in 2008 and 2009.

On his way to a long versatile career in Indy cars, NASCAR and sports cars, P.J. Jones nabbed his first two USAC midget wins at the seaside oval of California’s Ventura Raceway.

USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. remains a top-flight talent with the series today, and in 1996 and 1998, his first two victories came at one of his favorite venues, the Belleville High Banks in Kansas.

Shane Cottle and Gas City I-69 Speedway have a connection over the years that includes two sprint car track titles, three of his four AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car wins and the first two of his three career USAC National Midget wins.

Brad Sweet is the only driver on the list to win his first two career USAC National Midget events on consecutive nights at the same race track, where the 2019 World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion accomplished the feat in 2008 at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway.

Kyle Hamilton – the 2012 USAC Silver Crown Rookie of the Year, 2017 Little 500 Sprint Car winner and 2019 Dave Steele Carb Night Classic victor – was a star at Grundy County Speedway whenever he competed in a midget at the Morris, Ill. track.

His success there included several STARS victories and USAC National Midget wins in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013.

It took both Tony Simon and Dave Strickland Jr. seven years between their first and second USAC National Midget victories. Cannon McIntosh certainly hopes win number two comes a little sooner than that.

He’s one to keep an eye on this season, following top-five finishes in each of the first two races at Ocala in early February, and will be one who very well could add his name to this collection of racing stars come time for the Shamrock Classic on March 7.

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