Mike Stahl is standing tall in the NAPA Niagara Indoor Midget Racing Series Castrol Cup points standing. But, at 6-foot-4, he stands tall everywhere he goes.
Stahl is second in points with 213, trailing leader Mike Tidaback by 59 and leading Colin Turnbull and Greg Furlong, who are tied for third, by one.
The third event in the four-race winter series will be held in the Niagara Falls Convention Center at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"I am rather tall for one of these Midget cars," laughed Stahl of Niagara Falls. "My owner, Don Dee, had to custom build the Midget car that I drive because I can not fit into anyone else's. Once I had the chance to drive Jeff Riberdy's car when he was hurt but I couldn't fit into the car.
"When our car was being built, I spent many hours sitting in the car while Don built the tubing and the pedals around my legs and feet. I guess that's a good way to keep my ride. No one else can fit into my car but me."
Stahl has been a consistent performer in the series. After starting ninth and finishing fifth in the series opening A-Main in December, Stahl drove to a solid eighth-place result after starting 18th in the 20 car A-Main field in the second race.
"It's so tight indoors to pass and it's getting tighter every year," said Stahl. "It used to be that you would start lapping slower cars in the first 10 laps of the feature and now you don't get into lapped traffic usually until later in the race. Everybody's faster these days."
In 1994, Stahl almost won the title in what was then a three-race indoor series.
"I was third in the points heading into the third race," said the driver of the Northeast Machine/Grand Island Sales and Service Midget. "I had won an earlier race that year. I needed to finish ahead of Dave McKnight to win the indoor points championship. I started 20th and finished third that night but Dave won the race and got the title. I was close.
"That was one of the only years I ran the whole indoor series. Usually I ran just a couple of races a year as weddings and other oddball stuff came up."
Stahl also runs three to four races in the NASCAR Late Model Pro-Stocks at Holland Speedway, blaming expenses and a lack of sponsorship for his limited schedule.
He has victories in one indoor Midget feature and two outdoor Midget events on his resume, but none at Holland.
Like many, he got his early race driving experience in the Go-Karts.
"I raced 11 years in the Go-Karts and won the 1987 WKA USA-20 national championship," Stahl recalled. "I started racing Midgets and stock cars in 1990.
"As far as this year's indoor series is concerned, I'm somewhat surprised that I'm second in points right now and hope I can do well the rest of the way."
Practice is Friday from 6-10 p.m. On Saturday, Jiffy-Tite time trials will be at 1 p.m., followed by Go-Kart heats. A drivers autograph session is at 6:30. Racing begins at 7, including Go-Kart features, Midget heats, the 20-lap B-Main, the Ace Collision Dash for Cash and the 35-lap A-Main.
Lancaster Motorsports Park will be hosting two International Supermodified Association (ISMA) events in 2000. The open wheel-open cockpit winged ISMA machines visit June 29 and in a doubleheader with Lancaster's Modifieds, Aug. 5. The Mr. Modified Summer 50 is Aug. 26.
The annual NASCAR Winston Cup Series visit to Watkins Glen, Aug. 10-13, has been renamed the "Global Crossing @ The Glen" as Frontier Communications has mergered with Global Crossing, an international data communications company.
Ransomville Speedway has announced tentative dates for this season's traveling DIRT-series specials. The Sunoco DIRT 358 Modified Championship Trail will run in the Alex Friesen Summer Nationals, Aug. 8. The DIRT Sportsman Championship Trail arrives June 30 and Sept. 15. The DIRT Pro-Stock Championship Trail invades Sept. 8.
Tickets are still available for the Friends of Auto Racing Awards Banquet, Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Hearthstone Manor in Depew. NASCAR star Kyle Petty will appear. Call 625-9458.