Dick Klamfoth, Motorcycles, Class of 2017
By Don Emde
It is often said about people who achieve greatness that they “made their mark.” In the case of three-time Daytona 200 winner Dick Klamfoth, he made much more than a mark, he made a monument. Long after the years when Dick was king of the old Daytona beach course, he created a monument at the north end of Daytona Beach to honor the twelve (including himself) who raced motorcycles to victory there in the Daytona 200, the sport’s most prestigious race. After almost ten years of planning and fundraising, the Daytona 200 Monument was officially dedicated in March of 2002.
Klamfoth was born in Columbus, Ohio on September 30, 1928. He was just a 20-year-old rookie when he sped to his first victory at Daytona in 1949 riding a British-built Norton. He had to settle for second place in 1950, then scored impressive wins in 1951 and again in 1952 to become the first three-time winner of the Daytona 200.
In his racing career, Dick scored a total of 12 National wins on both road and dirt tracks, competing against some of the best motorcycle racers ever, including six previous Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductees.
Dick retired from full time racing in 1962 and dove headfirst into the motorcycle business and sport. He opened a retail store in the Columbus area and soon became one of Honda’s largest motorcycle dealers in America. He also opened Honda Hills, a large riding park for his customers and others in the area to have a place to ride. Dick also promoted motorcycle races there and for a time hosted a round of the AMA National Motocross Championship.
His racing success in Daytona Beach had won Dick many friends in the area, and he learned of a small plot of property that was available at the beach, very near to the Main Street Pier. He was able to secure a hold on the location in the early 1990s. He then proceeded to raise the needed funds to build a proper monument for the twelve winners of the Daytona motorcycle beach races from 1937 to 1960. Today, the popular monument continues to tell the story of when motorcycles raced on the sands of Daytona. It now includes the addition of many plaques and tributes to other legendary motorcycle enthusiasts as well.
Dick and his wife Bev enjoy an annual trip to Florida every March to hold a reunion that raises funds for upkeep on the monument, then spend the rest of the year at their home in Thornville, Ohio. The house had to be rebuilt a year ago following a fire that broke out one night as they were sleeping. The original structure was totally destroyed and some pets were sadly lost, but luckily Dick and Bev were able to escape through the flames to safety.
Now 89, Dick Klamfoth has been an achiever in the world of motorcycling all his life and is a very fitting inductee as he takes his place this year in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
For more information about the Daytona 200 monument, log on to: www.daytona200monuent.com.
Don Emde is a former professional motorcycle racer. He and his late-father Floyd Emde hold the distinction of being the only father and son both to have won the prestigious Daytona 200-mile road race. Don is an avid historian, collector and publisher of motorcycle history. More at EmdeBooks.com