Jimmy Brock was a crowd favorite at midget races in the Detroit area in the 1930's and early 1940's. He was said at the time that he was "absolutely without fear and drives with reckless abandon as fast as the little car will go." Although he did not often win, Jimmy was a real competitor. Read on for more from the time about this fascinating guy.
Jimmy Brock was not a great midget champion. He won a race occasionally, but not often. Rather he was one of those indispensible drivers that makes champions possible. Jimmy was one of those guys who showed up to race every night of the week whether it was at Detroit's Motor City Speedway or at tracks in the Michigan/Ohio area like the Flint Speedway, Bigelow Field in Grand Rapids or Ft. Miami Speedway near Toledo. He raced full time in the 1930's against drivers like Duke Nalon, Eddie Ostwick, Carl Foreberg, Sam Hanks, Art Hartsfeld and Ralph Pratt. That meant racing midgets indoors in the winter months at the Detroit Fairgrounds Coliseum or the the University of Detroit arena. On a good night, he might finish third. On a bad night, he might not qualify. Yet he was a crowd favorite because he was a fierce competitor.
Here is a feature story on Jimmy Brock written by my dad. It appeared in the Illustrated Speedway News on May 9, 1941:
"Jimmy Brock, undoubtedly on of the toughest pilots in the business today, was born in Detroit in 1908 and grew up there on Detroit's east side. When Jimmy was fifteen year old he was hanging around the speedway garages getting the inside dope on what made the big jobs tick. At sixteen he was wheeling one of them after having convinced an owner that he was at least nineteen. And not doing too badly either. At seventeen he had ambitiously constructed his own race car and set out to really win some purses.
He campaigned the big cars from that time on with very good success until 1930. In that year he was drawn to the bricks of Indianapolis by the lure of the fast moving five hundred mile classic. In that year he rode with Paul Bost, one of the outstanding pilots of the day. He rode again in 1931 and 1932 with Al Miller and Chet Miller and was Chet’s riding mechanic when he took that thrilling jump over the Indianapolis wall.
Begins Driving Midgets
With the appearance of the midgets, Jimmy became one of the very first Detroit boys to get the feel of the very newest type of speedster. Jimmy was the first in Detroit, and possibly in the country, to adapt a V8-60 motor to the midget field. He appeared with the spanking new black V8 with the three chrome stacks on either side, and in his first appearance finished well up in the money. Shortly thereafter he copped a feature at the fast Motor City bowl.
For the past six or seven years, Jimmy has devoted all his time to drving the ‘jeeps’ as he calls them. He has driven for many of the leading owners including Al Kamiinsky with his flying outboard, Angelo DiCicco, Detroit owner of the former (Ronney) Householder Offy; Lance Campbell with the fast No. 2 Offy, also a former Householder car. In addition to those named, he has driven the Al Placky outboard, the Bernard Jacobson outboard and several others.
Jimmy is about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. He is dark, good looking and of quite a pleasant disposition. He is absolutely without fear and when on the track he drives with reckless abandon. Always puts on a good show and is well liked by the spectators.
Has Sensational Spill
One of his most sensational spills was his tangle with Duke Nalon at the Motor City Speedway in 1940 which sent him hurtling over the high wall some forty feet in the air at a high rate of speed. Few expected to ever see him alive again as he disappeared from view. However, rescuers found him seating and swearing trying to get out of the half-buried racer. A quick trip to the crash house and he was O.K. again.
Jimmy is married to charming Marge Brock who is always on the job rooting for her Jimmy. As a sideline from racing the two operate the Lucky Star Café near Motor City Speedway where the race crowd often congregate after the races."
Brock was the riding mechanic for Chet Miller in 1930 and 1931. Here they are in the Marr Special in 1931. Many thanks to Kevin Triplett who has researched Jimmy's career and provided the link to this photo. For a complete Indy photo driver gallery go to the Indycar.com gallery.
Here is Jimmy in action in #25 about 1938. Location unknown.
Jimmy is pictured here in the DiCicco Offy, formerly owned by racing ledgend Ronnie Householder. This appears to be an indoor race, probably at the Michigan State Fair Coliseum. The photo was taken in 1939.
Here is Jimmy in the #28 Offy taken July 15, 1941. I have found no record that Jimmy drove after racing resumed following World War II. The reason is unknown. I found a notation on the back of one of my dad's photographs that he died in 1956.
While he may not have won as many races as some, Jimmy had the heart of a champion and proved it by getting out there and pushing the "big boys" every night. Thanks to Jimmy and all of those who were like him.