About the Author

The first race I ever saw was during a summer vacation in 1962 under the covered grandstands at the Minnesota State Fairground track.  The racing bug bit me then, and that was it.  I started attending races at Hialeah Speedway in 1965, and discovered the winged supermodifieds of old Hollywood Speedway later that year.  I drove my first race the day I turned 16 at Old Hollywood, and first raced Mini-Stocks at Hialeah in 1967.  While I have competed in a variety of cars at many current and long since gone Florida tracks, my personal driving and racing career never took off the way I envisioned it would.  My passion for the sport never wavered, I have either listened on the radio to, watched on TV, or attended every Indy 500 Since 1964. Starting in 1966, I have been to Over 20 Daytona 500’s, seen the old Can Am cars at Mossport, Indy cars at Portland, Homestead, Indy, Pocono, St. Petersburg, etc.,  assorted SCCA races, have crewed at the 24 hours of Daytona, raced go-karts, personally raced on all 5 configurations at the “new” Hollywood speedway complex, built racecars from scratch, sat next to Smoky Yunick on a plane back from Indy, have seen Jeff Gordon race at East Bay, watched an F1 race in the pouring rain from a tree limb at Watkins Glen, saw Davey Allison’s first race ever at the Birmingham Fairgrounds track, and attended hydroplane races at the Miami Marine Stadium.  I saw the last Le Mans start at Sebring from the Ford GT pits, drag races at Masters field, airplane races at the old Tamiami Airport, entered a car in the “Rod Run to the End of the World’, and way too much more  to list here.  I confess  a personal soft spot for open wheel oval track cars, especially  sprints and supermodifieds.  I’ve attended the Knoxville nationals, ASCS NW Speedweek,  From 1978 to 2011 missed only two years of the East Bay Winternationals, and been to dirt races from Skagit Speedway to East Bay Raceway…and a whole lot in between.  I’m from South  Florida originally, and after trying life in the Pacific NW for a few years moved back in 2009. Nowadays I live in the St. Pete area with my lovely wife of over 20 years, Debbie.  I’m opinionated, bombastic, politically incorrect, probably wrong at times, never been called boring, and hope I will never bore you either.


  • Joe Clymer says:

    I”m Joe Clymer and Bob Hamkle took me under his wing as a 13yr old , and a lot happened over the years with founding of the Modocker NHRA club and going to Bonieville in 1951. My wife Barbara baby sat Robert Wayne Hamke who just Died. We just attended the funeral of my last great buddy Dick Passwater who ran Nascar in the early 50″s with Frank Arford and Bob Hamke crew chief. I’am greatful to my mentor Bob and his wife Eva and our prayers to Sandy.

    • art says:

      Hi Joe,
      Boy what a year 2020 is turning out to be! I have so many memories of Robert Hamke..I remember him wheeling the #3 rear engined super at old Hollywood like it was yesterday. Most everyone always talks about the #74 silver Nova, he won the state championship with that car. That was the second one, the first one he got with the metallic blue 64 Chevelle #119. The beating he got a Hialeah Speedway was unreal. The Hialeah guys always gave anyone not in the clique a lot of grief, and I can’t think of anyone who got crashed at Hialeah Speedway more than Robert Hamke did. He never let it stop him, he could and did outwork everyone. He was also one of the cleanest drivers in an era and at a track where being a clean driver was not necessarily an asset. In the pits and at his shop he helped everyone, even giving some great help and advice to a nobody mini-stock racer like me. He was a true racer’s racer. RIP Robert

      • dana barlow says:

        Hi Art,
        I do miss talking with ya as often as we did many years ago.
        Man are hero’s are less and less ,were we can still go talk to them face to face. I had met Bob Hamke way back,when I was told who I should asked about ideas for making a front motor mount for the hot rod I was putting together. Rob Bean an I went up to Bob Hamke,it was a gas station,with open wheel mod repair going on early 1960s. Mr Hamke drew out a idea for me {now wish I’d kept that little scrap of paper} of how too using 3×3 in. angle iron across the front of my Ford Y-block running out to Model A frame rails. I did it an it work very well,the man was amazing engineer ,super innovator, It was short visit. A few years later after Rob Bean an I started racing at Hialeah Speedway,got to know Bob’s son Robert Hamke a little,who also took after his Dad,super Fab an innovator . Robert built a lot of great race cars,and when I designed an build my own Late Model Mod in 1978/9 I got from him parts I could not make. Always fun going up to Johnson St. to BS an buy something. Around 1986 I got a call from Robert asking if I’d come by the shop,the guy I sold it to,then sold it to a new guy who ,had taken it to Hamke’s for a set up. Wanted too asked about some things I’d done an set up I had used as a starting point. After I got there,Robert really only ask about my spring # that were in it when I sold it,he had looked it over well.. He had a helper make a copy of last page of my log book. My respect for him has always been super high,as I was about to go,I got the best complement I ever got “This is the best home built Late Model I’ve seen in 10 years” Ya ,I had a lot of innovation built in to it.an when I drove it, was in top 5. But car after I sold it didn’t go well with new owner,getting Robert to set up was really good plan by newest owner. Last time I got to talk to Robert was at a Hialeah Speedway Reunion . So here we are closed in by China 19 an I’m bugging you for old time sake,Howdy

  • James Thompson says:

    I grew up in North Dade as a teen I went to Hollywood when we could get a ride that’s was just plain crazy I never seen anything like it.in highschool we would go to Hialeah the palmetto was just 2 lane .latter in life after college I got a job teaching woodshop at Miami centeral in 1976 I opened Americans Sr I had the Sutton boy in my class they were related to the Allisons by marriage .my interest renewed there was lots going on then .I was in to paint and body latter on I meet Marty hand Shaw and even painted one of his cars. Now that I have retired I moved to deland fl so I can still be close to the tracks nsb as well as barberville thanks for all your hard work .

  • John Kelley says:

    Read every word of your Rod Perry article. Was in Miam iarea every year for va ca in early 60s late 50s mostly. LOVED the racing there especially the “Bathtub’ of Roddy Perry. The ground would shake as the cars passed by Not to much Hialeah,just Medely and Hollywood and then. Palmetto. Always remember the Palmetto bugs on the rail on the top of the Grandstand.Ugh!!! Went to Bobbys Days house once and picked out a bunch of negs,All South Florida stuff and he was going to print them up for me,but alas he passed.Never got them. I think the bathtub was the Austn Ford. Thanks so much for remembering Rod Perry. I live in Ct. John Kelley

  • daveclayton fernandez says:

    i am really glad that you mention banjo mathews driving for Opie Clayton, Opie was one of south florida racing unsung heros to me ,his son Jerry and grandson Johnny Opie clayton Thank you Dave

    • art says:

      Hi Dave, there are so many of the early guys who this sport owes so much to. Thats one of the biggest missions of this site, to keep the past alive for us all. Thanks for the interest, Art

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