Omar Toft

Omar Toft

30/6/1886 - 12/12/1921

Racing driver, promoter of the Speederettes and farmer. Killed in a crash at the Arizona State Fairgrounds.

Omar Toft was born and lived in Bourbon, Missouri. He was of Danish stock, his father had moved to California after his wife died in 1892 when Omar was just four. Omar was a racing driver, promoter and farmer.

In 1913 he competed in the Los Ageles to Sacremento Panama-Pacific Road Race. Omar drove a Simplex entered by the wealthy Los Angeles socialite Leotia K. Northam. he started third and crossed the finish line in eigth.

In 1916 he raced in the Montamarathon Classic held on the board track at Tacoma Speedway. Driving an Omar Special with a Duesenberg engine, he started in second and finished sixth place, collecting $250 for his efforts. From there he went to Cincinnati but a stuck valve put him out of the race. At the 'Brickyard' he came sixth in October and on the road course at Santa Monica he took part in two races. In the first he burnt a bearing and retired and the next day his clutch went in the second. He raced on the dirt oval at Acot Park in November finishing 7th.

Jimmy Murphy was asked to be his riding mechanic in the Corona races that year as he was only 5ft 7in and weighed just 10 stone. However the car failed to pass scrutineering on the morning of the race and Murphy ended up winning the race with Eddie O’Donnell of the Duesenburg Team.

The next year he gave up on the Omar Special and bought a Miller. On the dirt and board tracks he had a reasonable season, though he didn't win and only stood on the podium once.

Continuing with the Miller in 1918 he had a better season. On the board track at Uniontown he came second once, third twice and forth twice.

He drove in the Indy 500 in 1919 but retired with a broken connecting rod.

He cut back on his racing and became a promoter. In 1918 he organised the Stockton race for the Speederettes, billed as the World Championship for women racers on a dirt track.

Toft had competed with the best male drivers of his day, including Barney Olfield, but he fell out of racing competitively in the late 1900s.

The Speederettes were wealthy women who did not own their own race cars and Toft had negotiated to have the women drive well-known “big” race cars of well-known male racers. Unfortunately Nina Vitagliano Torre was killed along with her riding mechanic, Bob Currie. A child was amoung the spectators injured. The deaths and injuries ended the short life of the Speederettes.

Omar was killed in a crash in a 50 mile race at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in 1921. The accident happened after 24 miles. The race was stopped and awarded to De Palma, who had led from the start. Toft died from head injuries.

historicracing.com

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