Sleepy went on to win his way into several league titles during the course of his high school days, including All-Southern Section guard and linebacker. He graduated in 1971 but not before he also tried his skills at wrestling. Ironically, he wrestled at several matches that the late Dana Carter had also attended.
Even before Sleepy graduated from high school the bug to race bit Sleepy again and it was motorcycles that soothed the itch this time. But it was a brief relief. Until he could afford a race car, he and brother Bobby spent many hours racing in and around Lake Elsinor, California area. In 1973, Sleepy won the 100 Expert Class Championship on the TT track at Lake Elsinore.
Leaving the bikes as a winner, Sleepy took up racing Midgets again in 1974. This began Tripp's long historic drive into some of Midgets most prestigious and notable record books.
Tripp was only twenty years old when he first got a taste of full Midgets racing. He had saved up his money for a couple of years toward this goal. Sleepy then convinced his father to split the expenses of racing. The first Midget was powered by a VW motor and it cost $7,500.00. Tripp claims that his first race was his first crash. He say's "I stuffed it into the front fence at Corona Raceway, Corona, California". A betting man would not have picked Sleepy to become a legend based on this full Midget racing debut but then again, even Sleepy never considered himself a "natural talent".
Then everything seemed to come together. Sleepy won his first race at Corona Raceway, California. He then went on to win thirteen more main events and earned the 1974 United States Racing Club Championship (USRC) while still in his rookie year! Now that's "Sleepy Tripp Excitement"
After the end of the USRC season USAC came to town with it's annual Turkey Night Race and a couple of other national points races. As Sleepy watched the USAC boys run at Ascot on Thanksgiving night he decided to join the club and race against what were considered the nations best Midget drivers.
Sleepy wasted no time adding his name to the USAC win list. He took top honors at Bakersfield Raceway, Oildale, California and earned the first of many national points chases with the prestigious United States Auto Club.
Sleepy's racing career seems to have been mapped out in perfect sequential order. While he was still young and unsettled he moved to Indiana to chase the national points title which he confidently won in 1975 and 1976.
It was during 1976 that Sleepy was asked to race down under for the first time. He became an instant hero with fan-fare whether is was Australia or New Zealand he was racing.
While Sleepy was winning a good deal of money over seas he was spending it just as fast in the States in the season. It was Sleepy's father (Jerry) that convinced Sleepy that if he lived and raced in California he could work at the family business to help him pay his way.
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