December 9, 2003 by

Iggy Katona

28 comments

Categories: Sports

ikatona.jpgEgnatius James Katona Jr., a stock car racing legend, died on Dec. 4. Cause of death was not released. He was 87.
Katona began racing motorcycles in 1934. He won most every competition he entered, including the Michigan Motorcycle Championship. After serving a year in the U.S. Army during World War II, Katona focused on racing open-wheel midget cars, AAA big cars and roadsters.
From 1953 to 1974, Katona finished in the top 10 in points, 21 consecutive times. The winningest driver in Automobile Racing Club of America Series history, Katona earned 79 career series wins, and holds the all-time series championship mark with six titles in 1955, ’56, ’57, ’62, ’66 and ’67. He was also the oldest superspeedway winner in history when he won his third victory at Daytona in 1974 at the age of 57.

28 Responses to Iggy Katona

  1. Dave Lyall

    My first racing hero, my first driver autograph, My first view of a professional racer. Iggy, was a nice man, a gentelman, a real racer. I grew up near Motor City Speedway in Detroit, and watched him race and win by determination, wilneyness, and shear guts. Igyy was of the old school, always made the best of what he had, and what he had was not the best, but Iggy was.
    Goodspeed Iggy. Dave Lyall

  2. JOHN J. HAAS

    I REMEMBER WATCHING HIM AT HEIDELBERG RACEWAY IN PITTSBURGH IN 1962. HE BROUGHT A RATHER STOCK-LOOKING 1962 FORD TO BATTLE THAT DAY. [I SUPPOSE THT ALL CARS LOOKED COMPARITIVELY STOCK TO THESE DAYS.] IGGY WON THAT DAY. HE WAS DOMINANT THAT DAY.

  3. richard guccini

    my dad would take us. my brother and i to motor city speed way in Detroit. Thats was around 1955. Iggy katona
    he was are all time best driver.the races would even be on tv . that was a big deal to us i was 12 and my brother was was 8 . my dad and brother are gone now . bet there with Iggy and his car #30. Was watching the race on tv today from daytona and they were talking about him . my dad and my brother would have loved to heard them talking about him. 2/12/05

  4. DON HOTTON

    My father and Iggy were great friend, they race together, spent time together, and enjoyed each other company for a long. One of my best memories was going to Daytona on the Beach race in 1957 with dad and Iggy, We lost Iggy a little while and my father Andy, not long after, I know they are at Flat Rock, Toledo, or Daytona racing with the other greats on the eternal high banks.
    Don

  5. Bert Kramer

    In 1967 I was 14 years old and my dad would drop me off at KIR Kentucky International Raceway in Florence, Ky. that was a 5/8 mile flat dirt track where they use to race horses. This is where I watched the ARCA drivers when they would come to our local track a couple times a year, drivers like Iggy Katona, Andy Hampton and Benny Parsons were the winning drivers and most all the Chrysler boys had the Hemi power cars, Iggy drove a 1967 Charger #30 and I will always remember a driver with a name like Iggy Katona. Today at 51 years old all my heros are gone in auto racing.

  6. deborah katona

    I am the grandaughter of Iggy. I have wonderful memories of my grandfather working on his race car. So nice to see the people that care about him the way that I did. Please send more emails of memories. Thank you Debbie Katona

  7. mickey ichesco

    I have some of the most fond memories of Iggy and spending countless times at his and elenor’s home in willis and marveling at what went on in that fabulus dirt floored racing barn…… thanks Iggy for all the fantastic memories

  8. Ron Katona

    As a young boy growing up in Saginaw area my Dad and uncles talked about “Cousin Iggy” I never did know if we were related. It is nice to see the tributes to a great driver.

  9. Brian Baker

    My Uncle had a TV repair shop in Dundee, MI and went to Iggy’s on a repair call once. He took my Dad who helped him for a while, this was in the early 1960’s. My Dad told how Iggy took them both back in his barn and showed them the operation. Iggy told them a story of how some NASCAR boys tried talking him into racing in their series. So he was invited to take a car to Daytona and practise with a couple of others. He was turning some good laps and someone else went out with him for a little one on one. Well, the other guy lost control and somehow passed Iggy backwards. Iggy pulled in the pits and said…. “pack it up boys, I got no busines out there when a guy passes me backwards.” I’m not sure when that was but he must have gotten over it eventually.

  10. Deanna Maleski

    Iggy and Eleanor rented my Mother’s homestead for 17 years in rural Willis, MI. Every night I listened to Iggy tune up his race car engine. Eleanor was an excellent housekeeper and renter as she kept my Grandparent’s home in excellent condition. My parents took me and my brother to see him race in Flat Rock and Toledo racetracks. Wow-it was loud…I used to cover my ears every time the cars went by the stands-I was about 8 years old. I have lots of memories of the Katonas living next door as I was growing up, and am attending my first Nascar Race at the M.I.S next Sunday. My Mother still lives in the same home next to where the Katonas lived and is a vibrant 85 year-old woman. We are reminiscing today, and thought I would add our memories. Deanna Maleski Biggle

  11. Dave Lyall

    I am proud to say I knew Iggy, first as an amazed young fan of 12, and later on as a fellow racer with a lot of common friends like Bill Mason and Andy Hotton. I have always liked racing, and still participate in Drag Racing. But there was only one Iggy. I follow the NASCAR events, and although I like how NASCAR has grown, I do not like the whinning and crying some of today’s prima-donnas do. They could learn a leason from a class guy like Iggy. He made it, not because of luck or finding the right team owner with deep pockets. He made it because he never stopped working hard, racing hard, and comming back with more when he lost. Iggy never had much to say, he let his talent and success speak for him. If you roughed him up, Iggy did not say anything to the press, but at some point later of his chosing you would realize you made a mistake leaning on the big guy. Iggy was a big man, but as a man’s man, he was a giant. Iggy was something special, a kind man who alway had a minute for a fan, he had a special gentle smile that spoke volumes of his humility, and as tough a man as he was, he had a softness in his eyes that went with his smile. They don’t make them like IGGY any more. Dave Lyall

  12. Mary Hartman Gaines

    Our father, Clarence Hartman, was close friends in the 30’s and 40’s. We were going through old pictures our our mother and dad and found a picture of Iggy, Dad and our brother, Ivan. The car was number 30. When Elenor came to our house, she made black cows. If you want a copy of the picture,let us know

  13. Fred Fisher

    I have been an Iggy Katona fan since my friend and I first saw him at the Michigan State Fair Grounds 1-mile (well oiled) dirt track in 1965-1966. We were Mopar fans (anything but a Ford!).
    In the first race I saw him (Sept 1965), he was leading the race in his orange #30 Dodge when a rock about the size of a softball was kicked up by a car ahead of him and it smahed through his windshield, breaking his nose. This made his eyes tear and blurred his vision. I think that is the only reason he pulled out of the race. He was about 50-years old at the time. I also remember after the race he was asked to pose with the rock in front of his car for a photo by a fan or a sports newspaper photographer and did so while holding the rock in one hand and a post race beer in the other (medicinal purposes?). This just made him a god in our eyes and so cool. Especially to a couple of kids 13-14 years old.
    At a race at the Fair Grounds in the Spring of 1966, we saw a pristine, white (factory helped, I believe) Ford driven by Jack Bowsher (another top ARCA driver). Jack set a new lap record and the place was abuzz. A couple other cars qualify and then Iggy goes out in his orange Hemi powered Dodge and beats Bowsher’s time by about a full second! The place went wild!
    Years later, in about 1983, I bought a slot-car to race at the local slot-car track. A buddy and I wanted to buy the same types of cars so the racing between us would be even and more fun. I picked an orange bodied car, and painted a number 30 on the sides and printed “Iggy Katona” on the roof where the driver’s name would go. My buddy just laughed and got the biggest kick out of it. I had told him stories about Iggy as my buddy was raised in Europe and was a big F-1 and Rally racing fan. I helped educated him about Stock Car racing. He would get the biggest kick out of the stories I would tell him about Iggy Katona!
    I just stumbled onto this site and have had a good time reading all the entries.
    Thanks,
    Fred Fisher
    Troy, MI

  14. Ashley Smith

    I never really knew my great grandpa but i’ve heard so much about him. I think i remember him when i was little but he died before i got the chance to know anything. My mom Debbie has told me a lot and im so grateful to be related to such a wonderful and talented guy. Keep writing. It means a lot to our family!!

  15. Tom Holbrook

    Ever so long ago I sold Coca Cola at Motor City Speedway to pay tuition while I was an undergrad at Wayne State. I remember Iggy well as a driver, though I never met him. I think that, during the summer when I started vending Coke, Iggy had been pretty badly hurt in an accident there and was sidelined. He returned, and won won won, of course. There was another winning driver there at the time, Ronnie somebody, whose name escapes me. Younger guy. And I remember Andy Barto, the Speedway owner, with his implanted voice box. Could find nothing on him on the Net–anyone have a site/source?

  16. jessica

    i am the great granddaughter of Iggy Katona daughter of Debbie Katona even though i don’t remember meeting you from what i hear and have read your were great! see you one day.

  17. Deanna Maleski Biggle

    Just wondering where Jimmy and Ronnie and their families are these days—Iggy and Eleanor rented my grandparents’ home for about 21 years in Willis during his racing days in the ’60’s and beyond. I am reading emails from his great-granddaughters-its hard to believe that so much time has passed. I can still hear the race car engine from my bedroom window…what a sound !!!Deanna Maleski Biggle

  18. AMANDA KATONA

    ALTHOUGH I NEVER GOT TO REALLY KNOW YOU I KNOW YOU SO WELL!!I HAVE HEARD SO MANY STORIES ABOUT MY GREAT GRANDFATHER!!!!I WISH YOU WERE STILL WITH ME WE ALL MISS YOU SO BAD!!!!!IT HAS BEEN 5 YEARS SINCE I SAW YOU LAST…I AM NOW JUST 11 YEARS OLD I MISS YOU AND LOVE YOU MY GREAT GRANDFATHER

  19. Lee Stacy

    My late brother, Nelson Stacy, raced against Iggy in MARC (later ARCA) 1956 thru 1960. They both won championships during that period. Nelson never spoke much about other competitors but I do remember a comment to the affect that Iggy was as hard a racer as they come. Iggy’s name came up in a converstion about racing in the midwest today and I did a google search. His relatives should feel proud of his accomplishments. Lee Stacy – My email address is salstacy@yahoo.com if anyone wants to contact me.

  20. Eric Waldron

    One of my all time heroes of auto racing. It was my honor to watch and meet Iggy Katona, one of the best stock car drivers that ever lived.
    Who could forget the late model dirt track wars between Iggy Katona, Jack Bowsher, Ramo Stott, Ralph Latham, and others? Those were the days!!!

  21. scott & austin katona

    the grandson and great grandson of late Iggy Katona. Scott- have great memories of hanging out with grandpa talking about racing! also enjoy seeing hsi off season hobbies like his race snowmobiles that he like to expierment with. Austin- i am the great grandson of iggy i remember talking to him at the nursing home. he was a nice guy and i wish i could have got to know him better.
    if anybody wants to contact us you can at skatona@se-power.com

  22. brandon

    i grew up in lewiston,mi where iggy retired.my great grandpa and him (in ann arbor)used to race motor cycles together(got pics w/them in their leathers).my grand father years later interduced me (age 10ish)to him at his place in lewiston.we used to bring him fire wood.i was always so impressed with his huge trophies.he gave me one of his daytona post card w/ his autographs,that was huge at 10!he also let me sit on his bsa motrcycle in his garage and told me a couple stories of him and my g.grandpa racing days…years later after i left the service iseen him at the gas station,he rememered me and my name.r.i.p.iggy we all miss you!!!

  23. Duke Williams

    Iggy was a great racer and an even better man. My father, Tom Williams owned midgets driven by Buddy Huesman and raced with Iggy after WWII. In the late 50’s and thru the 60’s my brother and I raced go karts with Iggy’s brother Tony. I would love to hear from Tony and his family

  24. Robert Stacy

    I never got to meet Mr.Iggy Katona in person. But see him win at daytona.
    Got to meet Scott & Jim gandson’s of Iggy.
    Worked w/ Mr.Ron Katona (Ronnie) for a 16 yr’s. Nice man!! He can drive at Daytona as well!!
    I got Mr.Katona’s pic on my wall along side of
    Nelson Stacy wish had to be some awesome racin back then!! Ifn ya need any more stast’s
    Please go to stacy motor sports.com

  25. mickey Ichesco

    I will always remeber the fun times I had with Iggy and havaing the privilege of getting to go to the races with him. I remember all the times he and Elenor would let me view all his picutures and the wonder baked goodies she made at holiday times.
    I have the fondest memories of the privilege of getting to go with him and Ron and Jim at the daytona speed weeks and all the memories we had there.
    In Ypsilanti there is a small auto museum that has many pictures of Iggy and his exploits on one wall that is visited by so many people that all have stories about Iggy.
    Thanks Iggy for all the great memories and the experience of being a part of the fun being with you at the race tracks over the years…… money can never buy all the fun and enjoyment that myself and many other fans have had just to be able to know you.
    Many thanks too Ron and Jim for sharing your dad with me
    Sincerely
    Mickey Ichesco
    Ypsilanti Michigan

  26. Nick Roman, III

    My father , Nick Roman, were friends and raced roadsters and midgets together with Iggy at Motor City Speedway in Detroit and flat rock etc with the great lakes racing asso. Also are both hunkys Hungarians. some of the other racers were al miller,felix brooks gerv umek, jack goodwin,cecil hayes bob rogers ronnie duman,spencer foreman, neal carter, and the announcer carson zeiter, oh miss those days.happy to have found this site.

  27. Amanda D. Katona

    By reading all these I take it that my greatgrandfather was a good man. I still ask about him all the time and I neve really saw him untill he was really sick. I might have been with him more when I was very little but I don’t remember it nor him. I hear people talk about him alot and all I hear is good things. I miss him dearly but I guess there is nothing I can do about it I have pictures of him But that is about it. I hear he was a great racer too. I am proud to be a great-granddaughter of Egnatious James Katona Jr.

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