First three-time DAYTONA 200 winner
Five-time Ohio state champion
12 National victories
Founder of DAYTONA 200 Monument
AMA’s 1961 Most Popular Rider
American Motorcycle Association
Growing up on a farm in Groveport, Ohio, Dick Klamfoth began riding motorcycles after getting his driver's license at the age of 14. He convinced a couple of friends who co-owned a racing Harley to give him a shot on the bike. Klamfoth spent hours practicing his dirt riding technique racing through apple orchids near his home. Klamfoth will forever be associated with the DAYTONA 200. At the age of 20, Klamfoth burst onto the motorcycle racing scene in March of 1949 when he rode to a surprise victory in the 200 on his very first attempt. Klamfoth won the beach classic again in 1951 and 1952 to become the first three-time winner of America's most famous motorcycle race. 1951 was Klamfoth's most successful season. He started with his second victory in the DAYTONA 200 and followed that up with national wins at the half-mile ovals in Richmond, Va., and Shreveport, La., as well as earning a victory in the Laconia Classic road race. In addition to his three Daytona wins Dick won at Laconia (1949, 51, and 52), Heidelberg (1958 and 59), Richmond (1951 and 54), Shreveport (1951) and was five time Ohio State Champ. Known as one of the true gentleman of the sport, Klamfoth was named AMA's Most Popular Rider in 1961. He is remembered for his first National number 2 on his Norton race bike. He also rode for BSA, Royal Enfield, and Indian during his competitive years. Dick has spent his entire life as a success in the motorcycle sport and business. After racing, he showed the depth of his ability when he was recognized as the largest U.S. Honda motorcycle dealer in 1964 and 1965.
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 21-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.
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