New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame member Johnny Kay, an outstanding Midget driver for over 25 years, died Monday, Aug. 11. He was 85.
A win in the 1954 “Night Before the 500″ at Indianapolis’ 16th Street was the crowning event for Kay who posted victories under a number of banners including ARDC, AAA, USAC and NEMA from the post War 1940s through the 1960s. He was the second alternate at the 1956 Indianapolis 500.
Coming out the service, Kay went to a driver’s school at West Springfield in 1947. Among the best in the northeast by 1952, Kay was part of a group that included icons such as Johnny Thomson, Bill Schindler, Mike Nazaruk and Len Duncan.
Kay ventured into the Midwest. He headed west. In addition to continuing to win in the East, he picked up checkered flags at well know midget tracks like Flat Rock, Mich. and Winchester, Ind.
He suffered crippling injuries at San Antonio, Texas in 1959. Following a long rehabilitation, he came back to win in both ARDC and NEMA. In the late 1960s he scored a sprint car victory at Stafford Speedway.
A photographer of some note, Kay was also active in antique racecars for several years.
Kay was named to the NEAR Hall of Fame in 2006.