Imagine how cool it would be to see Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes-amg F1 car line up against Timo Bernhard’s Le Mans-winning Porsche 919 Hybrid and Will Power’s Indy 500-winning Team Penske Dallara-chevrolet. You’d pay good money to see a race like that, right? Well, that’s exactly what thousands of people did, rolling into Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park road circuit in July 1959 to witness a starting line-up which included an F1title-winning Maserati, Le Mans-winning Jaguars, Targa Florio-winning Porsche ... and a short-‘n’-tall Kurtis-offenhauser Midget with a singlespeed transmission that looked positively ancient against the sleek European sportscars.
Given it was meant for an oval track, the Kurtis was adept at straightline speed but maintaining that through a road circuit’s left- and righthanders was where it was compromised. Not in Roger Ward’s hands, though. After narrowly losing to George Constantine’s Aston Martin DBR2 in the first 20-lap heat, Ward changed gear ratios for the main 60-lapper and harassed the more celebrated cars before taking the lead from Chuck Daigh’s Maserati 250F Grand Prix car with 10 laps to go and holding it until the chequered flag. And it wasn’t a case of realising a Midget was surprisingly well suited for the circuit, either; there were four other Midgets in the race and the next best finished only eighth. That date, 25 July 1959, has subsequently entered American motorsport folklore and is now known simply as “The Race”.