Dick Klam­foth

From his first ar­rival at Day­tona in 1948, Dick Klam­foth was the dom­i­nant racer of his time. Sec­ond in the Amateur race in 1948 was fol­lowed by vic­tory in three of the next four Day­tona 200s. Rid­ing his Nor­tons, he was the Amer­i­can equiv­a­lent of Ge­off Duk

Classic Racer - - WHAT’S INSIDE -

For­ever to be as­so­ci­ated with the Day­tona 200, Klam­foth’s run to the higher ech­e­lons of Amer­i­cana two-wheels be­gan when he was just 20 and he never re­ally rolled off that throt­tle.

Born in Sept 1928, Dick Klam­foth grew up on an Ohio farm. His ear­li­est mo­tor­cy­cle ad­ven­tures were on his 61cc Har­ley-david­son. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school in 1946, he was able to get an op­por­tu­nity on a de­cent race bike in 1947. Dick: “This lo­cal rider named Frank Barselo had bro­ken his leg. I got to be known a lit­tle bit for be­ing pretty good at tear­ing my Har­ley apart and fix­ing it. So I said to Frank, who had mar­ried a farm girl who lived close to me, ‘hey you broke your leg, how’s about me fix­ing it and rid­ing it?’ “He told me that he was okay with it but had a part­ner in it – they had bought it to­gether. Floyd Ni­code­mus was his name, and he had to check with Floyd to see it if was okay with him. Any­how, I told him that I would take the mo­tor­cy­cle and fix it up, paint it, and if I wrecked it that I would fix it up and take care of it. “So, I go to see ‘Nick’ and he said ‘it was al­right with me’ so I got to ride their In­dian. I started out as a Novice and started win­ning races so the next sea­son (1948) I moved up to Amateur. There were a lot of races start­ing to hap­pen down here af­ter the Sec­ond World War. That win­ter I talked with Smitty (Jim ‘Smitty’ Smith) and he had bought five or six Nor­tons. He didn’t have any money but the guys paid him to get them, dis­trib­uted out of Hamil­ton, On­tario by J M Mcgill (the Nor­ton North Amer­i­can dis­trib­u­tor). So Smitty sold them to all the Ex­pert rid­ers… they were sin­gle-knocker Manx Nor­tons. Smitty said: ‘You’ve got to ride a Nor­ton down at Day­tona for me.’ I said okay… I’d never been down to Day­tona.” The clos­est chal­lenger to the Manx was the Big Base In­dian Scout, a spe­cial rac­ing engine made in limited num­bers (50 or so, although the re­ported pro­duc­tion num­bers vary). Ed Fisher was also in his de­but race on the beach, rid­ing the In­dian. He said: “My first year was in 1948, I was en­tered in the 100-miler Amateur race. If my Sports Scout that I built had fin­ished I know I could have run with Dick. It had the big base bot­tom end, truly the dif­fer­ence was that it had scrap­ers on the fly­wheels and got the oil out of the bot­tom end bet­ter. I worked for the In­dian dealer in Lan­caster and they agreed to sell me the big base bot­tom end. They sold me a mag­neto drive to put down into the oil pump drive to run the mag in­stead of where it should have been and the thing broke. They gave me the pin, told me how to drill the hole, where to drill the hole… I did ev­ery­thing ex­actly the way they said. Dick: “We drew for po­si­tion and I started way back. There were about 120 bikes in the races and go­ing down the back­stretch I’d have to shut off and find a way be­tween the guys.” His de­scrip­tion is best de­scribed as an un­der­state­ment. “So I go down to Day­tona and fin­ish sec­ond,” he said. It was a Nor­ton one-two in the Amateur race, with Dick be­hind Don Evans of California. In the 200, Floyd Emde was rac­ing a sim­i­lar Big Base In­dian Scout to Ed Fisher’s and won the race flag to flag. But again, the Nor­tons were highly com­pet­i­tive. Dick: “Billy Mathews got sec­ond to Emde in the 1948 200 with his Nor­ton.” Although it was a very nar­row vic­tory over the Mathews Nor­ton, they were to trum­pet their vic­tory un­der the head­ing ‘to fin­ish five miles ahead of the next Amer­i­can-made mo­tor­cy­cle.’ It makes for a bet­ter ad­ver­tise­ment than ‘to fin­ish with a nar­row vic­tory over a Nor­ton’. It was to be In­dian’s last hur­rah and their fi­nal win in the Day­tona 200. Dick: “The next year I got onto their fac­tory team for the 200 and I won the race. It was a long-stroke Manx in 1949. The AMA never ap­proved the short-stro­ker, even though it was out at that time. It was a higher revving thing. The (long-stroke) Nor­ton Manx had a 100mm stroke and it wouldn’t stand more than 6250rpm, so that was the shift­ing point. That bike was good to me and I won a lot of dirt tracks on the long-stroke Nor­ton Manx too.” For the sec­ond year run­ning, Billy Mathews fin­ished sec­ond in the 200, part of a Nor­ton sweep of the top three po­si­tions. In 1950 the po­si­tions were re­versed with Billy get­ting his sec­ond win (his first was in 1941, also on a Nor­ton). When the Nor­ton team re­turned in 1952, the equip­ment was re­vised af­ter rul­ings by the AMA on pro­duc­tion bikes vs rac­ing spe­cials. As a re­sult, 1952 brought the gar­den-gate frame from the pro­duc­tion model to re­place the rigid-frame Manx. Dick: “The frame broke ev­ery year I rode that thing down here, it was an em­bar­rass­ing story. The plunger frame had a cast-iron thing where the tubes came down and were sweated into this joint… this was prob­a­bly from where they ran side­cars on the thing. But they broke, as the back straight was so rough… it was like skip­ping a rock on a lake. You just went pow, pow, pow, pow… it was hard to sit on the mo­tor­cy­cle – there weren’t holes in the track but the track was so rough. But it was al­right, as we still won the damn thing.” It didn’t seem to mat­ter to Dick much as he not only won the Day­tona 200 beach race, but he also won the La­co­nia race in New Hamp­shire, to take the road race dou­ble for 1952. At Day­tona, he fin­ished ahead of an­other Ohio racer, Bobby Hill, to make it a Nor­ton onetwo. It would have been hard to be­lieve at the time af­ter win­ning five of the pre­vi­ous seven Day­tona 200s, but 1952 marked the end of Nor­ton’s dom­i­nance at Day­tona. Ed Fisher was one of Dick’s strong­est com­peti­tors at the time, pri­mar­ily rid­ing Tri­umphs. He said: “Dick had the bar­rel off and was work­ing on the pis­ton of his Nor­ton. We never talked too much, I knew him and he knew me, but we were com­peti­tors. Dick looked up, saw me watch­ing and said: ‘What are you try­ing to do? Try­ing to see how I’m go­ing so fast?’ “At La­co­nia in 1952 I was rid­ing mytri­umph. Dick was on a real good road race-pre­pared Nor­ton (gar­den-gate frame ver­sion). He had a road race gear­box in it and they asked me if they shouldn’t use a wide-ra­tio gear­box. You didn’t need a wide-ra­tio gear­box for La­co­nia, you needed a close ra­tio one. The year be­fore Bob Fisher had rid­den their bike in the 50-miler with a wide-ra­tio box, but he came from dirt track and mo­tocross and they liked wide-ra­tio gear­boxes, as you didn’t have to shift so many times. So, I led Dick for part of the race but my Tri­umph trans­mis­sion wouldn’t stay in third gear any­more and he went bye-bye, so I fin­ished sec­ond. But the next year (1953) I won La­co­nia and Dick got third.”

The gar­den-gate Nor­ton was to get mods for 1953. Dick: “The next year they put a cou­ple of struts like those that held the front fender on, just to keep the rear end from fall­ing off the mo­tor­cy­cle. It never fell off and was still stuck to­gether, but it was a lit­tle squir­relly. You couldn’t broad­slide it into the turns be­cause the steer­ing mech­a­nism would only turn a lit­tle bit and you couldn’t crank it. A lot of peo­ple on the Har­leys and stuff would broad­slide the turns but I had to just ride it around as fast as I could. “That damn thing… if you knew the mech­a­nism of it, when the sus­pen­sion went down on the back straight, it didn’t have any damp­ing ac­tion in it and it would pitch you up in the air rid­ing across these things. The springs would break and I don’t know why they couldn’t do some­thing about it. You had to run a stock mo­tor­cy­cle like how the Har­leys had to run the WR… there weren’t any other frames any­how. Nor­ton had it, but that was be­fore the swing­ing arm was out on the Nor­ton street mo­tor­cy­cle, as that mo­tor­cy­cle wasn’t made with the feath­erbed frame. I was my own me­chanic and I worked on the bike day and night, tear­ing the en­gines down. Fran­cis Beard was the tuner of the Nor­tons for the fac­tory over in Europe and he had sev­eral win­ners.” Hav­ing Fran­cis’s specs meant that Dick had the best of the best avail­able. How­ever, 1953 wasn’t as suc­cess­ful for him as the pre­vi­ous four years had been, with Paul Gold­smith win­ning Day­tona, Ed Fisher win­ning La­co­nia, and Joe Leonard win­ning at Wind­ber, Penn­syl­va­nia. It was the end of the road for Dick rac­ing the Nor­tons and he was to switch to BSA 500cc twins for 1954. Fel­low Ohio racer Bobby Hill bested him for the win that year as BSA took a one to five sweep at the 200. Dick: “We be­came friends rid­ing against each other. I beat him a lot, and he beat me a lot. I would take the bike home af­ter the races… they came from the fac­tory with Cyril Hal­liburn, the chief with the BSA me­chan­ics that were there for Day­tona. They tore my BSA down, as they had some weak points. I rode a swing­ing arm, when the rest of them were rigids at Day­tona. So mine was 40lbs heav­ier, but I got sec­ond to Bobby, who rode rigid. The swing­ing arm chas­sis was the spare mo­tor… the frame came with the mo­tor. So if you needed the back-up mo­tor, you got that frame as well and I rode that spare mo­tor with­out it even be­ing jet­ted.” It was in­tense rac­ing at Day­tona in those days with huge fields and you never knew where you would end up start­ing the race. Dick: “You didn’t qual­ify down here, so they drew for po­si­tion… they drew your num­ber

out of a hat. I could never pull up the beach with the gear­ing and stuff that I had com­pared with the Har­leys and all. I would end up go­ing into the north turn, prob­a­bly in eighth or 10th in the draft ev­ery lap, but then I would get on the back­stretch and I could pass them all be­fore we got to the other end of the race track and I’d come out first on to the beach. Then we’d get on the beach and they’d all come back around me – there were about 20 of us rac­ing for the lead. The salt spray was get­ting onto my gog­gles and you couldn’t see s**t. You’d put a pow­der puff on the back of your hand to smear it, but that only made it worse. It took you about half a mile be­fore the smear would dry off, you’d take your knuckle across the avi­a­tion glasses. Then you’d be lap­ping rid­ers, as there were about 150 mo­tor­cy­cles in that race. “One time the pack opened up and a Har­ley rider was rid­ing slowly down the mid­dle while ad­just­ing his car­bu­ret­tor. I hit him right in the ass, I sailed up into the air and went into the Pal­met­tos and brush 20ft off the road. I was go­ing about 100mph and here I was sail­ing through about six or eight feet of un­der­brush. Bill France al­ways graded the road off there, but the pile of dirt and sand he graded off was in the bushes where I was run­ning through. So I hit that sand out of con­trol to start with and went ass over wheels and hit right in the mid­dle of the road. “Now there are 100 mo­tor­cy­cles that I can hear com­ing. I started to pick the bike up but I couldn’t move it. So I was jump­ing up into the air wav­ing my arms think­ing ‘I’m gonna be dead, I’m gonna cause one hell of an ac­ci­dent be­cause there are 100 mo­tor­cy­cles com­ing down that back­stretch. One batch went by and I’m lis­ten­ing for the next batch as I’m fight­ing to pick the thing up. “I yelled at a guy who was walk­ing along there to help me. We yanked it off the road, and I just walked back to the pits.” There wasn’t a faster rider in dirt-track rac­ing than Everett Bras­hear on the fac­tory Har­ley-david­son (five Na­tional wins in 1955). The Nor­ton wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it was still com­pet­i­tive on the dirt-track scene. Everett: “Of course, most of it was rider abil­ity and un­der­stand­ing dirt tracks. Dick Klam­foth rode enough dirt tracks that he un­der­stood a lot about them, but he was pretty fa­mous with road rac­ing. The thing about Dick was that he had a lot of prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence on his Nor­ton and it made him very suc­cess­ful. He was com­pet­i­tive any time there was a race of 100 miles or fewer, but the 200-mil­ers were where the com­pe­ti­tion was the strong­est… in the dis­tance races.” Although those BSA years were not par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful by Dick Klam­foth stan­dards, there were some high­lights. That sec­ond place fin­ish to Bobby Hill at Day­tona in 1954 was fol­lowed by a win in the half-mile at Rich­mond, Vir­ginia on his way to fourth place in that first Grand Na­tional cham­pi­onship. It was a year that was largely dom­i­nated by Joe Leonard on his Har­ley-david­son, with Paul Gold­smith sec­ond in points. Dick fin­ished fourth for the year, just ahead of Hill, Al Gunter, and Bill Tu­man. Tri­umph could be a fac­tor in the races as well. Ed Fisher: “In 1952, when I ran Tri­umph, I was still an amateur on mile and half-mile dirt. At the first Ex­pert half-mile race that I rode (Rich­mond 1953), Paul Gold­smith was there. There were weather prob­lems, but they fi­nally got the track ready to run. I fin­ished up there in my heat to get a front row place for the main, the fi­nal. We take off with Gold­smith in the lead and half­way through the race I was try­ing to get into sec­ond spot and Gold­smith was now a straight away ahead of me. With a cou­ple of laps to go I pulled up on the in­side of him in the third turn. He thought he was out there by him­self and he looked over and I think he thought I was go­ing to run into him and turned right. So, I won the race. “The next year (1954), I was sec­ond af­ter get­ting by Tu­man and a cou­ple of other guys. Dick and I were talk­ing af­ter the race and I told him that I didn’t try to pass him, as I fig­ured get­ting sec­ond to Dick Klam­foth wasn’t so bad. Dick said: ‘You think you could’ve passed me?’ I told him, ‘Yeah, I think I could have passed you if I’d de­cided I wanted to go by you.’ Dick: ‘What makes you think that?’ I said,

‘I beat Gold­smith last year and he’s a bet­ter half-miler than you are.’ Dick said again: ‘What makes you think that?’ I told him, ‘be­cause he was!” Dick was to trade the 500 twin for the leg­endary Gold Star the fol­low­ing sea­son. He said: “For 1955 I was rid­ing BSA on the Gold Stars…sin­gles, you know… and we did pretty well. They gave me a bike to make a dirt-tracker out of it. I got the twin frame I had be­fore – a rigid frame – but I didn’t like some of the stuff about the engine, I thought it could be im­proved. Then I found out that I could get $400 for a Manx Nor­ton engine and I’d had five or six Manx en­gines that I’d used. “In Europe they wanted to use what were ba­si­cally Fran­cis Beard en­gines for their Cooper cars in the 500 class of car rac­ing. So, I got hold of Cyril Hal­liburn that win­ter and asked ‘if I come over there, can you pick me up at the air­port and can I stay at your house?’ I wanted to use the fac­tory to work on the engine, as I thought there was a pos­si­bil­ity that it could be im­proved for dirt track­ing. I took four en­gines over to Europe, and had two al­ready sold. So I brought them all over on the Queen Mary and took them as bag­gage. It cost $240 and I had a ball. Cyril came over to get me with a two-seater and a rum­ble seat and here I’ve got four en­gines in bag­gage. He has two kids and a wife with him. So, go­ing home it was very well loaded.” One as­sumes they must have looked like an English ver­sion of the Bev­erly Hill­bil­lies. Dick: “Cyril was in engine test­ing where the fi­nal bikes came for bike test­ing, and we’d ride them back to his house and to the fac­tory, where we’d stamp them ap­proved. He made ar­range­ments for me to work in the engine test depart­ment, get­ting cam grinders and oth­ers to work with me. They have a club over there and there is a bar, so I drank a lit­tle beer… Guin­ness stout… man I got tired of that s**t.” Day­tona brought Dick a DNF in 1955, with an­other sec­ond in 1956 fol­low­ing home Johnny Gib­son’s Har­ley in a race of at­tri­tion in which leader Paul Gold­smith’s Har­ley stopped with two laps to go. From 1949-1956 Dick had three wins, and three sec­onds, along with two DNFS. There was no­body else with any­thing like that record of suc­cess, which was stag­ger­ing con­sid­er­ing how many en­tries there were in those early days of beach rac­ing. The re­sults just did not come for Dick on the Gold Star, the 1960 race in par­tic­u­lar, in which he was for­tu­nate to be un­in­jured af­ter a huge crash. He said: “The Har­leys could go down the beach and it was the same thing as with the Nor­ton, it just couldn’t pull the beach. One year (1960) I didn’t do any­thing. I had a big crash in the first turn with a Har­ley rider from Michi­gan, Bates Molyneaux. One time I got ahead of him quite a ways and the sand in the corner was get­ting deep. I thought he must be close by and I went into the turn in my reg­u­lar pat­tern, when he came sail­ing by me on the out­side, bent out of shape af­ter go­ing ‘ass over teacups’. I bent up the front end and it took me out of the race.” An­other fac­tor might have been that Everett Bras­hear had teamed with Tom Sifton, the great Bay Area tuner, now work­ing with BSA Gold Star. Everett: “Sifton… he was my teacher. It was his BSA and it was a good one. We were com­pet­i­tive, and very much tied in with Dick Mann.” Dick Klam­foth was hav­ing a real fight on his hands as the shared tech­nol­ogy be­tween Sifton, Bras­hear and Dick Mann, circa 1958, made for very tough com­pe­ti­tion for any­one on the same ma­chin­ery, as they worked on ever-higher de­vel­op­ments for the Gold Star. Added to that level of com­pe­ti­tion was the ever-im­proved Har­ley-david­son team, with cham­pi­ons such as Joe Leonard and Car­roll Reswe­ber, who be­tween them, from 1954 to 1961, ac­counted for seven or eight Grand Na­tional cham­pi­onships. Stay­ing with BSA, Dick had a string of re­tire­ments or crashes at Day­tona from 1957-62 be­fore get­ting a sev­enth place fin­ish in the 1962 200, the race hav­ing moved from the beach cir­cuit to the Day­tona Speed­way in 1961. This paved road-rac­ing course ex­cluded the high banks that made

Day­tona fa­mous. That was all to change for 1964 when the bikes first ran on the high-banked su­per­speed­way. In 1964 Dick re­turned to Day­tona for the last year of his rac­ing ca­reer. It was the one year he ran the Match­less G50. “There’s an in­ter­est­ing story on that one. I was a Honda dealer and they come out with the 250 and 300 (305). I sold a lot of them – I was the big­gest Honda dealer in the US two years in a row, in 1964 and 1965. “I had spent all win­ter tear­ing the 250 apart and those things were smooth as silk. I’d been to Ja­pan a cou­ple of times as a dealer in­cen­tive and saw how things were made there. Honda pub­lished a book about all their con­quests in rac­ing, and their bikes turned 14,000rpm – it was un­usual to have one hold to­gether at that rpm for very long back then. So I worked that 250 engine all over and tested it, and I thought I could win the 250 class. As a pro you were al­lowed to run that 250 race at Day­tona.” Dick, hav­ing pro­cured a pri­vately owned Match­less G50 (for the 200), was now run­ning Bri­tish and Ja­panese ma­chin­ery but found him­self strug­gling with the com­bi­na­tion. He said: “With the Honda I was run­ning a foot­shift on the left side. The Match­less foot­shift was on the right side. One shifted ‘up’ for high, the other shifted ‘down’ for high. Jimmy Hill was an old friend and my old pit­man, and he was one of the last guys with In­dian be­fore they went un­der. He had helped me with the Nor­tons by giv­ing me pit boards. I was run­ning real well in the 250 race, think­ing that I’m ca­pa­ble of win­ning it be­cause at three-quar­ters of the race there was a less­ened in­ter­val. I had not been run­ning hard, as I was not tak­ing chances on an engine that revs to 14,000. Right be­fore I came onto the bank­ing I shifted the son-of-a-bitch the wrong way and over-revved it. I was go­ing down the back­stretch and then all of a sud­den… have you ever had a mo­tor­cy­cle engine ex­plode un­der you? A valve came off and blew the engine up. It was on the last lap and I pulled the clutch in and coasted across the line, fin­ish­ing sev­enth or there­abouts. So, there went the light­weight race.” Next came Dick’s fi­nal 200, which hap­pened mostly be­cause he was there with the Honda for the light­weight race. “I thought maybe I can find some­thing half­way good to race in the 200 miles. There was a guy who said: ‘I’ve got one (a Match­less G50) you could ride’. It was a bad deal for me… he brought this bike to a mile stretch of road where I could do a plug chop on it. I loaded the Match­less, the engine was sup­posed to be ready for rac­ing. I couldn’t get it started. The thing would oil up, the plug was full of oil and the guy said it was ready to go. I called the guy who owned it and told him that I couldn’t keep the thing run­ning and it kept oil­ing the plug. I asked him if I could tear the engine down and he said: ‘Oh no, you can’t tear my mo­tor­cy­cle down’. I got Jimmy Hill and told him that I didn’t give a s**t and that we were tear­ing that mo­tor­cy­cle down. Jimmy had been with Match­less and had got­ten a G50 for Dick Mann to ride but the G50 wasn’t ap­proved that one year and so they sold it to some­body. When we were tear­ing it down Jimmy said: ‘This bike is fa­mil­iar… I’ve torn this down be­fore and this mo­tor­cy­cle is the one we sold to get rid of it since the AMA wouldn’t ap­prove it, and they used it for En­durance runs.’ The Class C rules had been en­forced by the AMA upon Dick Mann’s G50 at the 1963 Day­tona 200 and, as a re­sult of his rac­ing frame not be­ing al­lowed, Dick did not get to race that year. Iron­i­cally, that mo­tor­cy­cle had re­turned to Day­tona and was deemed ac­cept­able. It was not known whether the il­le­gal rac­ing frame had been swapped out for some­thing more pro­duc­tion-based dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year. What Dick was soon to find out was that par­tic­u­lar G50 was se­ri­ously clapped out. “So, the thing had 17 thou­sandths clear­ance (pis­ton-cylin­der) and they only had one oil ring and one com­pres­sion ring on a G50 Match­less. The Nor­tons were more like 12 thou­sandths clear­ance. Old man Birch had Tri­umphs lo­cally and once asked me to come by his shop in Day­tona. He showed me this pis­ton ex­pander… I asked him, ‘what is this par­tic­u­lar piece of mer­chan­dise?’ Well, I called all over the coun­try try­ing to find the right pis­ton and rings for a G50, as I wanted to run the 200 one

more time. So, I found a new set of rings and I took that pis­ton over to the Tri­umph shop and he took out the sides of the pis­ton to where it was now the right clear­ance. I took the bike out to test at an area called ‘the chicken coop’ which was long enough to land B-17s on. So, the first time I got the thing run­ning and warmed up, it got a flat tire. The in­ner tube was clear full of patches, so I used a piece of black tape to patch the tube so we could get a run. “Keep in mind that we had to qual­ify that day, so I got to the race track and we pulled off the pri­mary chain to in­spect it. Well, the chain didn’t have any rollers on it any­more… that wasn’t go­ing to last. So I go to Dicky Mann, who did not have a new chain but he said he had some pieces of chain. Dick said: ‘Let me give them to you – I don’t think I need them any­more’, so I took those pieces and riv­eted them to­gether enough so that it would run. I think I got up to 150mph on the back straight and I qual­i­fied. The race wasn’t un­til Sun­day, so I could get an­other chain to put on for the race. “In the race I’m run­ning pretty good, maybe mi­nus 20secs or so. I didn’t have much prac­tice, other than run­ning on the back­stretch to qual­ify. It had a fair­ing on it and I was run­ning pretty well with peo­ple but in the turns – you know how you put your chin on the tank? I couldn’t see over the damn fair­ing on the bank­ing and the ass end was slid­ing… that wasn’t good. So any­how I put my left hand on the tank and my chin on my hand to see over the fair­ing… it was get­ting tire­some pulling those Gs on that turn. I was in the first 10 or so, and I was just hold­ing my own on the rusty old bike, when some rider from Canada came by me on a new G50 Match­less go­ing 10mph faster than I was… if I’d been rid­ing that bike I’d have won.” That could well have been a Bob Hansen Match­less, as they won a lot of races in that time­frame. At the end of the day it was the last race for two leg­ends at Day­tona… Everett Bras­hear fin­ished sixth on a Match­less, and Dick fin­ished fifth on his bor­rowed and less-than-ad­e­quately-pre­pared ma­chine. Across the en­tire ca­reer was there a favourite race bike? Dick: “I had a lot of fun on the Gold Star but they let me down a lot of times, they’d break. It was prob­a­bly the Nor­ton, learn­ing how to work on the bikes and learn­ing Fran­cis Beard’s se­crets.” In re­cent years, Dick and Bev Klam­foth have di­rected their con­sid­er­able en­er­gies to the Day­tona 200 Mon­u­ment, lo­cated on the Day­tona Beach prom­e­nade about half a mile north of the pier. It is the site of an an­nual re­union, held on the Wed­nes­day morn­ing be­fore the Day­tona 200 race. There are typ­i­cally a num­ber of those who raced on the beach be­tween 1937 and 1960, al­ways ea­ger to share their ex­pe­ri­ences from when the great­est race in Amer­ica was held on a Florida beach. See the web­site http://day­ton­a200­mon­u­ment.com/ for more in­for­ma­tion. Dick was in­ducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 1998, and was in­ducted into the Mo­tor­sports Hall of Fame of Amer­ica in 2017.

Words: Norm De­witt Pho­to­graphs: Dick Klam­foth, Mor­tons Ar­chive

Left: Dick Klam­foth, the 1952 win­ner in the Day­tona Beach race on the gar­den-gate Nor­ton. Above: The BSA twin on the beach in 1954. In­set: Dick’s first cover, the first of many.

There was no re­lax­ing in the mo­torhome be­tween ses­sions for the rid­ers of the day. Above: In the vic­tory lane for the third time in 1952. Above: Dick Klam­foth (2) and Bobby Hill (71) in 1951.

Dick made cov­ers around the world for his Day­tona achieve­ments.

Left: Dick Klam­foth bat­tles in the pack at La­co­nia.

Don Emde holds a poster of Mr Day­tona (Scott Rus­sell) and the King of Day­tona Beach. Bev and Dick Klam­foth at the 2017 Day­tona 200 Mon­u­ment cel­e­bra­tion. Ed Fisher was one of Dick’s main ri­vals on his Tri­umphs – photo 2017.

The BSA years were not a high­light of Dick Klam­foth’s long ca­reer.

Dick Klam­foth in vic­tory lane with Smitty, his me­chanic, and a cast of thou­sands. His first win in the 200 came soon af­ter hav­ing turned 20 years old. The 2017 Day­tona 200 Mon­u­ment re­union.

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