Bill Chennault born in 1930 in the Kansas City Missouri area was a standout athlete in high school, ...but he turned down several football scholarships from major universities to pursue a career in automobile racing. In 1953, Chennault claimed his first championship with the Kansas City Midget Racing Association (KCMRA).
Many of the KCMRA’s races were held at the ¼-mile dirt oval at Olympic Stadium on East 15th Street in Kansas City with a group that included fellow hometown drivers Willie Hunziker, Carl Williams, Ed McVay, and Roger Lane along with Omaha Nebraska’s Bobby Parker that also raced at Riverside Stadium in North Kansas City. In addition to Kansas City, the KCMRA group made stops at race tracks throughout Missouri such as Lake Hill Speedway in Valley Park and Ozark Speedway in Joplin as well as Playland Park in Council Bluffs Iowa and Shawnee County Speedway in Topeka Kansas.
Chennault would claim four more KCMRA championships during the nineteen fifties - in 1955, 1956, 1957, and 1958 to match the record of five championships set by the owner of his Offenhauser-powered midget, Vito Calia. Chennault narrowly lost the 1954 KCMRA championship to the flamboyant Texan, Jud Larson, despite Bill winning three consecutive features over a three-week span in the month of August 1954.
Olympic Stadium was the scene of Bill Chennault’s greatest triumph on June 16 1957 when he set quick time at 12.89 seconds in the Calia midget then beat the United States Auto Club (USAC) regulars to win the 100-lap feature in 23 minutes and 34/100 seconds at an average speed of over 65 miles per hour.
While he was capturing his KCMRA championships, Bill did not confine his racing to just midgets, as during 1955 Bill drove a modified 1932 Ford coupe at Riverside Stadium and won a remarkable eight modified stock car features including four of the season’s first five races and won the 1956 Missouri-Kansas Modified Association championship.
In 1956 and 1957 Chennault also competed in International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) big cars and was a consistent top five finisher in Tom Randol’s Offenhauser powered machine. Chennault finished sixth in the IMCA national points and earned the 1956 IMCA Rookie of the Year award. During 1957 Chennault drove a 1957 Chevrolet in the IMCA stock car championship and tied with Frank Richards for tenth place in points in a series that featured Ernie Derr, Don White and champion Johnny Beauchamp.
Late in his career, Bill traveled south to Florida during the 1960 Speedweeks in Daytona Beach and competed in a three–race program won by 2-time UARA champion Bernie Wilhemli, who edged Chennault in the final night’s feature ahead of Mel Kenyon and Bob Harkey.
Bill Chennault who passed away in 1965 from the effects of diabetes was named to Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame in 2005 and today becomes an honored member of the National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame.