Johnny Ritter



                    His racing and life with photos and printed material


                                             By Tom Avenengo


                                                    Part One


Due to the size of this article, I’ve had to break it down into five parts.


If you’re reading this, then you’re probably a race fan.  And, if you’re a race fan, over time, you more than likely had one major favorite driver.  Mine was Johnny Ritter.


I first saw him race at Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson, N.J. back in 1946.  No, I can’t recall the exact date.  It could very well have been on a day he won the days feature race – May 26th or June 9th – or possible later on in the racing season.  It’s pretty hard to recall some events from when I was 9 years old.  What made me a fan of his was his driving style and that Canary Yellow Outboard powered midget that he drove – with the smoke and aroma of Castor Oil – something that one never loses over a lifetime – that aroma!


What follows are photos from his racing career, mostly in order from the beginning, back in the ‘30’s, and up to close to the end of his racing, in 1948.  Some of the photos were sent to me by various people, including his daughter, Sharyn.  Some I found on the Internet.  Hopefully, I’m not infringing on any particular photographer! 


Also, towards the end, is a record of his race wins, a tribute to him by the late Nat Kleinfield, articles of that fateful day when he was fatally injured, while changing a tire on his race car and Hall of Fame information from the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame, along with the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.



Prior to coming East, Johnny raced in the Detroit area.  Here’s a photo of him in the “Checkerboard Offy”.  Photo by:  Al (Ace) Blixt  © Al Blixt Collection.   Special thanks for the ok to use the photo!





Johnny in a # 28 Outboard at Nutley.





Johnny in the Peterson # 2 Outboard  at Nutley.




From back in the ‘30’s – Johnny in his # 23 Outboard at Nutley.





Not sure, but from the looks in this photo, he must have just won a race.  That’s Charlie Miller in the dark jacket and helmet.