Info on driver Cal Niday and his Lotus 11
Posted 08 July 2008 - 05:27
Currently in Seattle for the historics
Posted 19 July 2008 - 16:17
I worked for Cal at his shop "Speed 'N Sport" in Hawaii in '64-'65.
I don't remember anything about a Lotus 11 but I do remember a 23B
At that time he was a Lotus dealer and had picked up the 23B for a customer named Jack Bishop to replace the TR-4 he had been racing (which I bought from him as my first race car).
When Jack couldn't come up with all the money right away Cal decided to modify it and run it himself.
We didn't change the engine or transmission but the terrific fabricator we had - Gordie (?) also a successful midget driver, fabricated a clutch pedal/lever arrangement which allowed Cal to disengage the clutch but with about a 12" throw.
After it was done we took it out to Hawaii Raceway Park for a test day. Cal got in it and took a few fairly quick laps. Then Gordie took it out and impressed me with his smoothness, quickness and ability in a road race car.
Then Cal let Jack take it out and he promptly stuffed it! No, serious mechanical damage but fibreglass everywhere!
After it was fixed, I think Cal raced it at least once and then Jack got it.
Since this is all from memory from 44 years ago my facts may be a little off.
Good to hear about Cal after all these years. He was a very interesting guy and the prototype of a competitor.
Years later when I was working in the Mid-West I ran across a guy that had been active in midgets when Cal was King and he used to tell me about what a maniac he could be. Was never hard for me to believe!
Even in retirement as a driver, in Hawaii - playing around with Sports Cars it was obvious in our heavily mixed class races that Cal only new one thing. If someone - don't car what he is driving - is in front of you he needs to be passed!
Posted 20 July 2008 - 13:51
Posted 20 July 2008 - 16:42
It was during a vintage midget event.
Exactly what those injuries were and if he died from a resulting heart didn't come up at that time, as I remember.
In a way Cal got a 30+ year grace period..
In '55 when he had his big crash at Indy the doctors basically gave up on him and suggested that his wife, Elsie, go home since he wasn't going to make it. But, they didn't know Cal!
Posted 20 July 2008 - 17:52
It was hardly a show, some of the vintage guys run those cars pretty hard
I believe the initial reports, in their zeal to have "old guy killed racing" got carried away.
Too bad - and unsurprising - there is so ridiculously little on him at Wikipedia, he had a fascinating story and is much more than "an old guy killed at a vintage race."
Posted 20 July 2008 - 21:00
Although it didn't eliminate head injuries since he lost vision in his upper field. Sort of like holding you hand horizontally across your eyes. For that reason USAC refused to clear him for Indy again, a major blow to a driver from his background. Sort of like telling a successful ball player that they can never play in the Majors again.
On his trophy wall in the shop he had that helmet and a picture of being pulled out of the crashed car. If you didn't know the driver in that picture was alive you probably wouldn't be able to look at it!
I will always remember, like a movie, finding out what he was made of at a race at Hawaii Raceway Park. The track was fun, fast and extremely dangerous by modern standards. Coming off the back straight (the return for the Dragstrip) there was a nasty, nearly flat out left/right with a bump in the middle. Scared me every time I drove it. The outside was dirt and gravel and there was a telephone pole about 20 yards out.
Cal came in there to fast ran off the outside when he hit the bump. I thought we were going to see a very bad wreck. But, after he got in the dirt/gravel he barely lifted and slid around the outside of the pole, throwing rocks and dirt everywhere and blasted back on the track down stream losing hardly any time!
Posted 21 July 2008 - 01:34
Posted 21 July 2008 - 01:45
Somewhere, way back in my memory, I seem to recall a mention of a Lotus with Olds power but can't put a finger on it right now.
I am still trying to get my head around the idea of stuffing an Olds V8 into that spindly tube frame of a Lotus 11.
Anyway, sorry I wound up going off in other directions but whenever I think of Cal I remember lots of good stories. He was quite a character.
If I can put my finger on anything about the 11 I'll let you know.
Posted 26 August 2008 - 19:23
My only contact with Cal Niday was by phone after he had returned to California. He sent me pictures and detailed information but this material appears to be lost after folks helped me move out of my house of 50 years to make room for a road right-of-way.
I have a dash plaque that Cal Niday won in Hawaii and sent to me but do not know if he received it while racing the Lotus 11. The inscription on the dash plaque says "ASSCH, Sportscar Race, Hawaii Raceway Park, Oct. 18, 1964, 1st Overall Main, CAL NIDAY."
These things I know concerning this Lotus 11 with the V8 engine. The car went to Hawaii originally from the NW. After the engine was destroyed in Hawaii it ended up with Cal Niday and modifications were made. These modifications included the Olds V8 engine, Powerglide transmission, a much stronger rear end (possibly a Triumph), wide aluminum wheels, and flared body work very neatly done.
The car was found in Hawaii by a couple of G.I. servicemen who purchased and brought it back to Sacramento where one of my racing friends saw it an thus I purchased it and brought it to the Seattle area.
I will have limited access to a computer until the end of second week of Sept. so if you do reply I may not respond back right away.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
Posted 27 August 2008 - 06:09
Niday may not have left much of a trail with this car but perhaps someone knows were he acquired it. It may have been well-known before this.