The Frontstretch: That's History! NASCAR's Checkered (Flag) Past, One Story at a Time: Valentine Harts by Amy Henderson -- Thursday February 10, 2005

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With just three shopping days left to find that perfect Valentine’s Day gift, um"¦make that two-today, and Saturday before the hour of 8:00 PM EST-because even though it’s an exhibition race, the Budweiser Shootout is on then, and then Sunday is qualifying for the Daytona 500, and who wants to go to the mall when there are engines to be heard and laps to be made"¦ OK, hurry up and get the shopping over with, the NASCAR season is about to begin.

There are no Valentines listed in NASCAR’s historical database. That’s drivers named Valentine, not frilly cards or little hearts with sayings like “fax me.” (Whatever happened to the good old fashioned “Be Mine, anyway?) There are, however, a pair of Harts, a Hartley, and two Hartmans to carry the Valentine’s Day spirit.

First on the list is Jack Hart. A native of Boothwyn, Pennsylvania, Hart made two starts in the 1960’s. Records show that this Hart posted a fourth-place finish in a Sportsman race at Utica-Rome Speedway in upstate New Your in September of 1962. Sadly, like many of the part-time racers of his era, most of Jack Hart’s accomplishments have been lost to time. Unfortunately, even less was to be found of James “Jim” Hart, a New Jersey native credited with just one NASCAR start in his career, in 1951.

George Hartley, of Erie, Pennsylvania, also had a brief NASCAR career. In just eight races in the 1950’s, Hartley posted two top ten finishes. All eight of Hartley’s starts came in 1950, when he finished 21st in the Grand National (now Nextel Cup) Series standings. Hartley took home $875 in prize money in that 1950 season.

Walter “Walt” Hartman hailed from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His three NASCAR starts came in the early 1950’s, making me wonder if he ever crossed paths with Jim Hart.

Likely the most famous name in this group, Larry “Butch” Hartman, had twenty NASCAR races under his belt in his career in the late 1970’s, including four top-ten runs and a career-high fifth-place finish in all. In Winston Cup (again, now Nextel Cup) races, Hartman grabbed two of his top-tens. In 1977, Hartley finished ninth in the CAM2 400 at Michigan and again in the Coca-Cola 500 at Pocono. However, butch Hartley is best know in racing for his accomplishments in USAC’s Stock Car Division, where he held multiple national titles. Hartman, a native of Zanesville, Ohio, died in 1994.

Like these five men, many racers’ names have been lost to time and, unfortunately, reduced to statistics, the details that must have remained in their memories lost with them. I hope that race fans think of these past racers now an then, because they are a part of the sport as surely as any of those today who dream hard enough to race in NASCAR’s top divisions, if only once or twice. They’re history too.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

02/10/2005 10:43 PM
I thought you had quit sending info out about raceing from NASCAR or nextel or whoever puts it out. Thank You for sending it to me



Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

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Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.