Dick Klamfoth, an Over Night Sensation on the Beach?
If you attend any of the great historic motorcycling events put on all across America each year, you may come across a great racer from the past named Dick Klamfoth. Dick was born in 1928 making him about 85 now, but he talks and moves like a man 20 years younger. Klamfoth is one of the great men who can tell us about motorcycle racing in America just after World War II, Daytona Beach racing to be precise.
Klamfoth was raised on a farm in central Ohio. In those days you could get a drivers license at a younger age, 14 and as a driver be more of an asset to a family running a farm. He started riding motorcycles at age 14, rode some enduros on a Harley big twin. After riding to the Springfield Illinois State Fair grounds and spectating at the Springfield Mile he was awed. Encouraged by a central Ohio Norton dealer, Klamfoth set enduros aside and entered an amateur level dirt track race in Florida and placed second. With practice and a Norton racer supplied by that local dealer, Klamfoth won the Daytona 200 in 1949; this was the first of three wins at the famed Daytona 200 he would take. But after that spring event in Florida, Dick also won or placed well at other AMA professional level events through 1964. In all he took 12 national wins in his career and his record of three Daytona 200 wins stood until 1998 when Scott Russell won his fourth 200. In 1998 Dick Klamfoth was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
After opening and operating one of the earliest and largest Honda dealerships during the boom years of the 1960’s, Klamfoth retired in 1985. But not a man to sit around, and a true historian, Klamfoth has worked tirelessly to preserve the heritage of the unique beach racing that took place in Daytona Beach from 1937 to 1960. Over a decade ago he erected a large and growing stone monument recognizing the men who raced in the Daytona 200, the old Beach race. In doing so he has also povided a monument on which motorcyclists can reserve an engraved stone plaque to honor friends and loved ones from motorcycling’s past, beach racers or not. For more information about Klamfoth’s Beach Monument, go to http://www.daytona200monument.com/about.html. To learn more about the Daytona 200, check out Don Emde’s great book on the topic, http://partsmagazineonline.com/BOOKS.html