The Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. Board and Officers send our deepest condolences to the family of our 2020 Inductee Buddy Cagle. God Speed Buddy.
Buddy Cagle 1930-2020
Buddy Cagle: Tulsa Racing Legend Passes at age 89.
Sad news out of Tulsa today with the passing of Buddy Cagle. From the late 1940’s to the 1970’s Cagle was a stalwart in Open Wheel Racing. He competed successfully in midgets, jalopies, champ cars, modifieds, super modifieds, and sprint cars. While in midgets nationally, and the jalopy-modified-super modified ranks locally, he had few equals in his illustrious career. He was also able to compete as a Kansas Dirt Legend at Venues that included Ce Jay Stadium in Wichita, and the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson during his considerable time behind the wheel of a race car.
Buddy Cagle first became interested in midgets during his youth when a couple of the mighty mites were stored during WW II in a garage he would hang out at. In 1948 Buddy obtained a phony birth certificate at age 18 to race in midgets. (21 was the minimum age to race at that time).It was a less than glorious start for the Tulsa teen, and involved him wrecking another competitor in his second race driving Earl Stampers V8-60 Midget, and being asked not to return following the accident.
After a couple years learning to race midgets with Stamper and Burt Van, the likable Cagle’s career took off in the midget ranks in 1950 racing with Angelo Howerton at tracks that included Little Rock, and Memphis. He would win his first feature at Memphis that season, winning a whopping 700 dollars, which is worth about 7,500 in 2020.
During the 1950’s Cagle became one of the greatest racing stars in midgets not just regionally, but racing across the United States.
In 1952 Buddy became teammates with Jud Larson, and Jimmy Reece, running for Bill Meers and his Orchard Cleaners Specials. Cagle would always remember 1952 for another reason however.
At the DuQuoin Mile Buddy would obtain a ride in a former midget ran by the late racing star Rex Mays. Driving this Offy powered car Buddy would crash violently going end over end, hitting the guard rail, ripping the seat from the car (with Buddy still in it!) When officials raced to the scene they found Buddy still strapped to the seat face up in the infield lake! Cagle suffered only minor injuries, while one of the wildest wrecks in the Magic Miles long history would become legendary.
The Tulsa hot shot midget racer had to put his career on hold to serve a stint in the Armed Services until the 1955 season. Upon his return he started driving midgets for John Zink, who would win the 1955 Indy 500 with Bob Sweikert, and the 1956 Indy 500 with Pat Flaherty, running his beautiful roadsters wrenched by AJ Watson, and Denny Moore.
During the mid 1950’s Cagle would also try his hand racing in the champ car division with owners Lee Elkins, and Pete Salemi. Buddy would run at DuQuoin, and the old Phoenix Fairgrounds.
The goal for many drivers during this time was to race in the Indy 500. Buddy Cagle took a crack at it in 1956 racing for Salemi in the Central Excavating Special. Unfortunately Buddy crashed in practice, and that dream was never accomplished.
However In the midget ranks Cagle developed superstar status driving for Zink and others.
Racing in California during one of those stints, Cagle would win at Gardena, and San Diego, in URA Competition during his travels.
One of his finest memories running a midget came racing in his home area. On a glorious day in 1958 Buddy would win in the afternoon at Tulsa’s 1/5 mile dirt track in midget competition. While hustling up to Kansas City that evening to win a 100 lap midget showdown at Olympic Stadium that night. In the Olympic feature, Cagle would lap the field except for second place finisher Eddie McVay!
Buddy would compete successfully in midgets on and off going into the 1960’s. While winning his last race in the division in 1964 at Tulsa Speedway racing for John Zink once again.
During Buddy’s racing days running across the nation he developed a couple favorite tracks that always stood out in his memory. The old Cincinnati High Banked Half Mile, and the infamous Langhorne Mile, two of the fastest and most dangerous tracks of the era.
In the 1950’s Buddy also started racing in the local Jalopy racing scene that included fellow midget racing star Howerton among others. Over time the jalopies would evolve into modifieds, and later super modifieds.
In this form of racing Buddy Cagle would become the top local racer for many years. At Tulsa in 1964-65-67-68 Cagle would win the track championship racing for his friend John Zink. While winning the Muskogee title in 1968. Upon his retirement he was the all-time leader in points for the Tulsa Super Modified Division.
Racing during those days in Oklahoma, while venturing occasionally to Kansas, and other venues, Cagle would have to face off with competitors that included Jack Belk, Ron Fowler, Pete York, and Howerton, among the regions stalwarts.
The late Buddy Cagle was a legendary racer who crossed the decades seamlessly racing from one form of car to another from the 1940’s on. After his retirement he received many honors over the years, including being inducted into the High Banks HOF in 2014, and just last March, the CARB HOF for 2020.
Buddy Cagle was a devoted family man, businessman, and teacher. He was a friend to many, and he will be deeply missed. RIP Racer Buddy Cagle🏁