INDIANAPOLIS – Tommy Astone, a 2018 National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee and seven-time USAC National Midget Series winner who finished second in points in both 1973 and 1974, passed away on April 14 at the age of 70.
First emerging as a star in BCRA Midgets during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Fresno, Calif., native began to hit the trail with USAC, earning USAC National Midget Series’ Rookie of the Year honors in 1972 and finishing seventh in points.
The following year proved to be Astone’s breakout year with USAC, winning three times in 1973 for car owner Doug Caruthers during the season at Iowa’s 34 Raceway, Michigan’s Hartford Motor Speedway and Tennessee’s Appalachian Speedway.
Astone finished second in the standings by a mere 30 points behind champion Larry Rice.
In 1974, Astone scored three more wins with the USAC National Midgets, including the most prestigious victory of his career, the Night Before the 500 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. He earned subsequent triumphs during the year at the famed Angell Park Speedway in Wisconsin as well as Suntana Speedway in Utah.
Once again, Astone took the runner-up spot in the final series standings, 112 points behind Mel Kenyon.
Astone won again for the final time with the USAC National Midgets in 1976 at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, finishing third in the final standings. He also notched his one and only career victory with the USAC National Sprint Cars for car owner Warren Dorathy at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg, N.Y., one of 38 career USAC Sprint Car starts for Astone.
Astone also made a pair of USAC Championship Dirt Car starts in the mid-1970s, earning a best of ninth at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds in 1975, again for Caruthers, with whom he won all seven of his USAC National Midget races with.
Around that time, Astone made his return to the West Coast, competing with BCRA as well as becoming one of the original competitors in the USAC Western States Midget Series, where he tallied five victories in total.
His first USAC Western States Midget win came in 1983 at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif., for owner John Runjavac, while the final four were for Terry Caves’ team during the 1988 season at Kings Speedway in Hanford, Calif., Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz., and twice at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway.
Astone was also inducted into the Bay Cities Racing Ass’n Hall of Fame in 2009.