Crocky Wright was born Ernest Schlausky inNew Jerseywhere his formative years came in the era of “the mighty midgets” and gave him a chance to see them race at the famed Nutley Velodrome in the 1930s. He also was a lover of motorcycle racing where his hero was a speedway racer by the name of Emerson “Crocky” Rawding. After serving in the military during the Second World War, the young Schlausky made an attempt at racing in midgets. It was during this period that Ernest Schlausky made a trip toNew York City. He had begun to adopt the first name Crocky in honor of his hero when a truck with a business ad on the side of it drove past him in “The Big Apple.” The ad on the truck said “Wright” and after picking the name right off of the side of the truck from that day on Ernest Schlausky was known to the world as Crocky Wright.
Crocky would soon find his calling in writing about racing. He would go on to write articles for racing publications and books about the history of midget racing that proudly sit in the bookcases of lovers of the sport. Eventually Crocky would migrate fromNew Jerseyto settle inIndiana. The state was the perfect place for Crocky as it was (and remains to this day) a hotbed of midget racing. Of the many books that Crocky had written was a history of three-quarter midget racing on the East Coast and it so happened thatIndianawas a hotbed of those as well.
The TQ’s were the perfect car for Crocky as it combined his two loves with the midget car and the motorcycle powerplants. Crocky became a big supporter of the UMRA by coming out to the track to cover the races and also keep meticulous notes on the events. He also had a sharp eye for talent and at a UMRA event inMadison,Indianaon July 18, 1989 one upstart driver fromColumbus,Indianacaught his eye. The driver was Tony Stewart. The date became so etched in Crocky’s mind that for many years he would purchase a cake on July 18 and bring from the trailer that he lived in across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and share it with employees at the track to celebrate the day that he discovered the future racing legend whose cause he championed in the early years. Many stories about Crocky have been well documented. The fact that he was the only man ever fired from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for driving the tour bus too fast. The fact that he was also a motorcycle daredevil at heart, performing the “wall of fire” stunt up until the age of 77! It has also been well documented that in recent years Stewart purchased a home inColumbusfor Crocky to live in. In later years you could tell that Crocky was slowing down physically but his love of the sport never did. He could still be found in the press box at Eldora,Bloomington, and ORP whenever there was a big race. He even came out to the fair race inColumbusin July of 2008 and was in the grandstands as Jason Vest took his first career UMRA feature win. On December 23, 2009 one of the most colorful lives came to an end as Crocky Wright passed away at the age of 90.
However, the story does not end there as in his will Crocky set aside money to go towards the purse of the Rushville Nationals to be held on June 25 and 26 at the Rush County Fairgrounds. The Dutch Mill Buffet UMRA TQ Midgets invite race fans to come to the Rushville Nationals to honor the memory of a truly one-of-a-kind individual, Crocky Wright.
Article by: Alex Wollf
ERNEST “CROCKY” WRIGHT
Few men have invested themselves in the sport of midget auto racing with more passion than Ernest “Crocky” Wright. Wright first caught the speed bug when exposed to motorcycle racing, and was particularly captivated by the exploits of Emerson “Crocky” Rawding.
Wright, who first raced motorcycles, got his first taste of midget racing before World War II, and resumed his racing career after a stint in the Army, Wright would race with the ARDC and in “big cars” on the Penn-Jersey Association, while also finding time to carry his motorcycle to the Western Pennsylvania championship in 1948. Adding to his diverse interests Wright joined the Putt Mossman International Daredevils thrill show in the 1950’s and has never officially retired from the stunt game.
Wright’s stint in the Army also allowed him with the opportunity to serve as a reporter, and he has used his writing skills to file thousands of race stories and columns. Along with noted scribe Ernie Sexton, Wright founded the Johnny Thomson Fan Club and the latter’s death led to a small book that was followed by others on drivers and race tracks from across the land, and even a racing novel.
Wright’s four-volume history of midget racing provides a chronology of important races across the country, with an emphasis on East coast activities, and is much sought after by historians. In addition, Wright’s love affair with the famed Nutley Velodrome led him to write the definitive history of the lightning quick high-banked oval. Wright’s autobiography ‘Fate Guides My Destiny’ tells the tale of a man who has had a vest for living and is without question one of the true authorities on midget auto racing.
The tireless Wright continues to be a keen observer of the racing game and his restless fingers continue to tap out one high quality race report after another.
Article from: National Midget Hall of Fame