Butch Hartman (racing driver)
May 11, 1940|
Zanesville, Ohio, United States
|Died||December 21, 1994(aged 54)|
|USAC Stock Car|
|Years active||1966 – early 1980s|
|Teams||Independent family team|
|1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976||USAC Stock Car champion|
|USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year
National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career|
|20 races run over 6 years|
|Best finish||31st (1977)|
|First race||1966 National 500 (Charlotte)|
|Last race||1979 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 (Darlington)|
|Statistics current as of April 20, 2013.|
Larry "Butch" Hartman (May 11, 1940 – December 21, 1994) was an American stock car racing national champion in the United States Automobile Club (USAC) from Zanesville, Ohio. After winning the USAC Stock Car Rookie of the Year award in 1966, the series' Most Improved Driver in 1967, and its Most Outstanding Driver the following year. He won five USAC Stock car national titles in the 1970s. Hartman had the fourth highest number of USAC Stock car wins in the series' history. Hartman raced in twenty NASCAR stock car races; his highest finish was a fifth-place run at National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (now Lowe's Motor Speedway). Hartman worked full-time at his father's company, building his own engines and towing his cars to the track each weekend. In 1968, he became the first rookie to lead the Daytona 500.
He was an independent driver in an era of factory teams. He raced a No. 75 Dodge car with yellow and black colors, sponsored by his father's company "Hartman White and Autocar Truck Sales and Service".
Hartman began working on cars at age 7 when he helped his father warm up cars for his father's automobile repair company. For his ninth birthday, his father gave an old 1939 Ford sedan to him and his brother Terry for them to drive around in a field in an adjacent property, with the condition that the brothers needed to repair the car. They nicknamed the car "Death and Destruction". After attending Otterbein College for one year, he was sent to the United States Marines for four years.
USAC stock cars
In 1964, Hartman started competing in up to five stock cars races in a weekend, driving with his father and uncle. "When we had the time," Butch said, "we'd sleep for a couple of hours in ditches alongside the road. When we didn't, one of us would stand on the running board of our old Buick and fuel our pickup truck with a five-gallon can of gas while we were tearing down the road. I think we invented in-flight refueling."
In 1966, Hartman entered a 1965 Dodge Coronet in his first USAC race. He was awarded the series' Rookie of the Year award for 1966. He had his first NASCAR start that season, a 14th-place finish at the Grand National (now Sprint Cup Series) National 500 at Charlotte. He followed up in 1967 as the series' Most Improved Driver, then was the Most Outstanding Driver in 1968. He competed in five Grand National events that year, with 10th-place finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Rockingham.
Hartman had his first USAC Stock car win in 1971 at Pocono Raceway driving a winged Dodge Charger Daytona in the first Pocono 500. The race featured Wally Dallenbach Sr., A. J. Foyt, Roger McCluskey, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, NASCAR drivers Jim Paschal and LeeRoy Yarbrough, AMA racer Gene Romero, modified racers Geoff Bodine and Toby Tobias, road racer Brian Redman, and USAC stock car regulars Jack Bowsher, Don White, and Norm Nelson. After completing 41 laps, the race was postponed for a week after it was rained out. The following Saturday, Hartman beat Lem Blankenship in a late race duel. Hartman won his first USAC championship that year. He had a win at the Knoxville Raceway that season.
Hartman won his second USAC Stock car title in 1972. He had a consistent season with nine top-five finishes in eighteen races. He had one start in NASCAR's Grand National division; the fifth-place finish was his highest finish in his NASCAR career. The event was FIA sanctioned and USAC drivers were encouraged to race in the event. He got a Junie Donlavey ride after USAC regular Ramo Stott has a second-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway earlier that season. The 1973 USAC season had 16 races. He won seven races and had 12 top-five finishes to record his third straight championship.
Hartman was trailing Norm Nelson by 40 points going into the final race of the 1974 USAC season. He won the race at Des Moines; Nelson finished 7th and Hartman won the title by 30 points. In the 19 race season, Hartman had won eight races to record his fourth straight championship. Hartman battled Ramo Stott for the 1975 championship, but a blown motor at the Governor's Cup 250 at the Milwaukee Mile ended his title hopes causing him to finish second in the season points. Hartman surprised people by switching to a Chevrolet Camaro for the 1976 USAC stock car season which he won his fifth championship in the new car.
Hartman was critical of USAC's promotion of its stock car series compared to how the sanctioning body promoted its championship cars and how NASCAR billed its stock cars. "…nobody ever heard of our stock car racing circuit. We get second billing everywhere to the championship cars. Here I am a two-time champion (in 1972) and nobody knows who I am."
In 1977, he decided to race in NASCAR's top division, then called the Winston Cup. As a five-time USAC stock car champion, he had been receiving less money and received a lower billing at USAC stock car races than USAC champ car and NASCAR stock car drivers. He competed in 11 events and finished 31st in season points, with two Top 10 finishes in a Chevrolet Chevelle. He competed in one NASCAR event in 1978 and another in 1979 before returning to USAC. He had to use #00, as another driver had taken #75. USAC's stock car series had become stagnant, and it was gone by 1985. Hartman had retired in the early 1980s.
- Zautke, Steve (July 2, 2007). "Butch Hartman: USAC Stock Car Champion". Racing Nation.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- LaDow, William (May 23, 2007). "If it had wheels, Goldsmith drove it". Post-Tribune. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- "Butch Hartman Career NASCAR drivers statistics". Racing Reference. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- Kennedy, Ray (September 22, 1975). "What Was The Name Again?". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2009-02-03.[permanent dead link]
- "History of Late Model Stock Car Championships". Knoxville Raceway. July 21, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- Lehman, Doc (November 13, 2003). "National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame: 'Class of 2004' announced". National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-02-03.