1912 (Dec 15) – 1982 (Nov 25)
AAA Big Cars 1936 – 1950
Ader started out in his home state championship (GSRA) in 1934, winning the title two years later when driving for a youthful car owner, Joe Barzda (later to become a successful driver himself). He had already started competing in Central Pennsy events that year, and soon moved to AAA, but success was hard to find. Still, by 1941 he had climbed to third in Eastern points, earning himself his first “Offy ride” with Ted Horn’s team in 1946.
To the surpise of many, Walt started winning main events immediately, and led the standings early in the season, much to Horn’s chagrin (and Chitwood’s consternation!). Order was restored in due time, but Ader’s stock had sored out of sight. When Horn disbanded his team, Walt got picked up by Peaches Campbell, who was running the O’Day/Offenhauser, Chitwood’s 1939 title mount, but the combination proved to be short-lived as Campbell was somewhat dismayed to see his car fighting for “crumbs”, so he moved back to the IMCA where the pickings were a lot easier.
Ader was left scrounging for rides, and though occasionally he still found a modicum of success, the momentum had disappeared, added to which he crashed very badly in the summer of 1948. Two years later, after fulfilling his life long wish to compete (and finish) in the Indy 500, he retired from racing. He still tried to qualify his Indy mount, a brand new and supercharged Sampson/Offenhauser, in a few Champ Car races after that, but gave up after three failures. Walt Ader died in 1982 of a heart attack.
© Michael Ferner