Cal Niday raced at Denver race tracks during the "Golden Era" of Midget Racing. He drove in the Indy 500 on three occasions. He finished 10th in the 1954 Indy 500. He died as a result of a crash during a historic racing car exhibition run at Willow Springs. One of only three drivers to compete in the Indy 5oo with a prosthetic leg. The others being Bill Schindler and Al Miller.
Cal Niday died 32 years ago, he was 72
Born in Turlock, California, Calvin L. Niday started racing at seventeen, but lost a leg in a motorcycle accident after leaving High School. However with the introduction of Midget racing in the 1930s with did not require gear changing, Cal found his niche.
He raced on track around the Denver area during the "Golden Era" of Midget Racing and toured Australia on two occasions, during the winter of 1946/47 and again in 1948.
His abilities got him noticed and he was offered a drive at Indy in 1953. He ran at the Brickyard again the following year posting a best finish of 10th.
In 1955 he was back at Indy and was running third late in the race when he crashed heavily in Turn 4. He fared better than Bill Vukovich who had crashed fatality on lap 57 and credited the Bell helmet he was wearing, the first Bell helmet ever worn in the Indy 500, with saving him from more serious injury. Severely burned, he was in a coma for three weeks. He made a good recovery but his eyesight was damaged permanently, loosing sight in his upper field of vision. USAC thus refused to clear him to race at Indy again.
In 1957 Cal moved to Hawaii where he opened a race shop, Speed 'N Sport. He also did a little racing at local tracks.
He finally quit racing but was still involved, serving as president of the Western Racing Association, a group devoted to the restoring and preservation of racing cars.
Cal still drove in exhibitions which were often not that far short of racing. It was at one such event on the dirt oval at Willow Springs Raceway where Cal was tragically killed. A car had spun in front of him and while trying to avoid it, he clipped the rear tire and flipped. He was thrown out and, though it appeared that he had suffered only minor injuries, in the ambulance on the way to the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster he suffered a series of heart attacks and passed away.