Wally Pankratz Driving School and Three Generations of Midget Racer Legends

"Racing has been my passion since I was little. My father was my hero - So I was doomed early in life," says Wally Pankratz.
A Wally Pankratz Midget Car in Action.
A Wally Pankratz Midget Car in Action.

Wally's father was the 1940's Midget Racer legend Bob Pankratz. As a racer Bob was largely considered a journeyman, but his legend grew as he went on to become a master automotive craftsman, injecting new ideas into racecar construction. Bob's innovation and craftsmanship helped contribute to the transition in racecar construction, from the pre-World War II rigid chassis, to the flexible and adjustable streamlined components we're used to today.

Currently living in Orange, California, Wally is the second generation of Pankratz racing legends. He is a very accomplished Midget Racer in his own right, sporting an impressive race resume.

2000 Western States Midget Champion
63 Main Event Wins - Super-modifieds
2 Main Event Wins - Dirt Modifieds
7 Main Event Wins - Sprint Cars
44 Main Event Wins - Midgets
1977 Ascot Midget Champion
1981 Super-modified Racing Association Champion
1984 Kings Sprint Car Champion
1997 Jimmy Caruthers Memorial Award - USAC

Like his father however, Wally may be best remembered for what he's done with his post race career. Wally has a successful and well-respected driving school held at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California.

"Four years ago I realized that the open-wheel midget and sprint car schools on the west coast were all on dirt. If you want to be a major league racer though, you need to know asphalt. So, I thought that there would be a need for a pavement school."

"My school is a one-on-one program, so all students get 100 percent attention. We run 200 total laps - 12 sessions of 15 laps, and one 20-lap run. I watch and fine tune students after each session," explains Wally.

"I have been lucky to have really talented people come to the Orange Show - Bobby Grewohl, Alex Bowman, Jake and Cody Swanson, Tanner Swanson and his brother Kody Swanson, Michael Lewis, Austin Smith - all these have gone on to success in Midgets and Focus Midgets."

"Cody Williams went on to be National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year, and his brother Austin was the '09 Rookie of the Year for CRA-USAC and Victorville Speedway," adds Wally proudly.

"K&N has been very generous with their help and support. We use K&N air filters, oil filters and small breather filters. K&N filters insure our school cars engines run their best and will endure for thousands of laps," says Wally.

Starting next year Wally will begin offering a Primer Course for beginning dirt drivers. They will utilize the Speedway bike track at the Orange Show Fairgrounds. That track is run by Speedway bike racing great, Shawn McConnell.

"Because the track is so small the cars will be virtually sideways the entire circuit," says Wally. "This will quickly teach throttle control and car control, without the necessity of using great speed to shake the car loose. Dirt track is a better teacher of car control than pavement in the beginning," adds Wally.

Topping off the third generation of Pankratz Midget Racers is Wally's daughter Randi. Randi is an up and coming TQ driver. She has raced as far away as Paris, France and New Zealand and locally at Ventura, Bakersfield, Hanford, El Cajon, Irwindale and Perris, California. In the 1999 season, she held the 1 lap record at Irwindale and finished 3rd in Western States TQ points. Her plans include moving up to the midget class. There's no telling what Randi will come up for her post racing contribution, but rest assured, as a Pankratz it will be good.

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