Terry Wente, USAC Midget Winner, Passes At 65

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USAC Midget Winner Terry
Terry Wente poses next to his No. 15 midget indoors at the Allen County Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1980. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time USAC National Midget Series winner and 1988 series runner-up Terry Wente passed away Dec. 22. He was 65 years old.

Wente, a Missouri native, was the son of the third all-time winningest driver in USAC National Midget history, 1963 champion Bob Wente.

Terry, along with brothers Bobby Wente Jr. and Mike Wente, were frequent competitors with the series throughout the 1980s, with Terry being the most frequent racer of them all.

Terry Wente made 161 feature starts between his 1979 debut and his final start in a points race in 1991. He reached victory lane with the series in just his seventh start, winning the first USAC race of the decade on Jan. 6, 1980, at Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind.

That night, he was driving for car owner Jerry Hatton.

Wente reached his highwater mark in the championship race between the years of 1986 and 1988, where he annually reeled off consistent finishes in the final standings, among them an eighth in 1986, a third in 1987 and a second in 1988.

Despite no victories in that span, Wente did record eight runner-up feature finishes in those three years and totaled a career-high 13 top-five finishes in both 1987 and 1988.

Despite scaling back to a partial USAC schedule in the following years, Wente tallied his second and final victory with the series in late 1989 at his home state track, Moberly (Mo.) Motorsports Complex.

He finished 10th in the standings in his final season of 1991, then made one more start in the non-points invitational USAC Midget race indoors at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Ind., in January 1992 before embarking on an ASA Stock Car career in 1992 and 1993.

Following the conclusion of his racing career in 1994, Wente began owning and operating Wente’s O&W Restaurant and Saloon in Chesterfield, Mo., for 26 years before retiring on Aug. 31.

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