Eraced: Charlie Wiggins’ Story on Film

Charlie Wiggins, the Indianapolis mechanic and race driver who starred in the Colored Speedway Association in the late 20s and early 30s, is the subject of a new film biography which begins production next spring. The film will be produced by Welburn Media Group, headed by Ed Welburn and Madisun Leigh.

Welburn, the former Vice President of Global design at General Motors, said he was inspired by For Gold and Glory, the documentary and subsequent book about Wiggins and the Colored Speedway Association.

“Watching the documentary about Charlie, I was excited and at the same time deeply saddened that such an amazing piece of African American history, of American history, of car history, could be completely unknown to me, my enthusiast friends, and most auto racing experts,” said Welburn. “I decided that I had to bring Charlie’s story to life.”

Leigh is helping to adapt the screenplay from the documentary.

“It’s yet another missing piece of the puzzle that is the contribution of African American ingenuity and genius to our country’s rich history,” said Leigh. “Charlie was a humble yet daring man who, despite the stifling impediment of Jim Crow laws and unimaginable personal tragedy, rose again and again to meet those challenges and obstacles.”

The project has received production support from the NTT Indycar Series and from Firestone.

Wiggins won the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes at the Indiana State Fairgrounds four times, and also worked on William Cummings’ car in 1934, when Cummings won the Indianapolis 500. The crew explained to the speedway guards that Wiggins was their janitor. After the track closed for the day, Wiggins and the rest of the crew worked on the car. On Race Day Wiggins had to watch from the “Coloreds Only” section of the track.

In december, i wrote about including CSA records in the all time Indycar records as baseball did with the Negro leagues:

Wiggins won several other races during the Colored Speedway association’s brief time as a racing series. Following Wiggins’ career ending injury in the Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, the association’s attendance dwindled and the league folded in 1936 at the end of the season.