22/5/1895 - 22/10/1941
Gus Schrader had a racing career that spanned from the 1920s into the 40s. One of the all time great midget racers Schrader drove in the Indianapolis 500 just once in 1932. Gus Schrader died 81 years ago, he was 46
Gus Schrader was born on a farm near Newhall. He met his wife, a practical nurse who he married in 1939, several years earlier when he had been hospitalised after a racing accident in California.
He started racing motorcycles in his teens and graduated to cars after World War I, racing Model-T Fords at first then switching to Nash, for whom he was the dealer in Newhall.
Schrader held track records in many states at one time and very few people ever beat him unless he wanted them to.
Schrader made one attempt at competing in the Indianapolis 500-mile race, in 1932.
He started fifteenth and had worked his way through the field to be running fifth or six on the eighth lap when his oil pump malfuctioned and the oil from the crankcase overflowed and sprayed onto the rear tires. He lost control and smacked into the wall.
Schrader raced throughout the country, though he gained most of his fame in IMCA competition and some of his most famous duels were with Emory Collins. Schrader was IMCA king from 1933-37 and finished second to Collins in 1938, losing the title in the final race meet of the season.
IMCA did not have a point system before 1938 and what records were kept were destroyed in a fire. However Schrader probably won in the region of 800 races.
He was killed in a race at the Louisiana State Fair at Shreveport in 1941. Schrader and his wife, Eunice, had made plans to head for Canada for a long-awaited hunting trip and this was to be his last race before retiring to run the old family farm near Newhall, which Gus had reacquired after it had been lost in the Depression.
He was 46 at the time. And, although World War II would have interfered, Montgomery Ward had offered him a job in racing for the following season if he had changed his mind about retiring.
In the race Schrader and Jimmy Wilburn were racing side-by-side in the feature, in one of the turns Schrader drifted out and Wilburn didn't. Schrader's car ran over an axle on Wilburn's and flipped end-over-end 15 times. Schrader died two hours later after suffering a fractured skull, concussion and cerebral hemorrhage. Wilburn was unhurt.
Gus had already sewn up the sprint car championship in the International Motor Contest Association that season, his third straight title.