Campanale Wins Daytona 200-mile

From the March 1938 Issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

Being asked to write a story of the Daytona 200-mile classic places the writer in a rather embarrassing position, as he did not see the actual race, unless one would call watching every rider go by a given point, reviewing the race. We were given the job of running a master check and placed down on the South turn, high up in the grandstand. We did have a fine view of the starting line and the early activity of the forenoon and did see every rider come into that South turn and ramble onto the beach. Then it was a blurr and they were gone in the distance.

To us the high light of this race was the fact that it has developed into an event that can not be compared with any past motorcycle activity. It has become a national institution, something that will continue to grow in public interest. It is a perfect set-up.

This first event of the new year, takes care of that itchy feeling that comes to a motorcycle rider who has been forced to stay in doors for too long a time. It starts the ball rolling with a major speed contest that begins a whole season of activities. After all, motorcycle riders love speed and love that sound of a motorcycle as it winds up on such a long stretch of beach.

Daytona offers a perfect excuse for hard working dealers to head for the sunny South for a short vacation. It fills them with that old enthusiasm to go back home and start things in their own territory. It makes for new friendships and a general get together.

Daytona has the unqualified support of a group of city officials headed by Ray Eberling, Recreation Director, who left not a stone unturned to co-operate to the limit to insure the success of the event. It gets the greatest entry list of fine, clean cut riders of any activity and that assures everyone of the best in competition. It has grown, through the efforts of about five men to a point where the word Daytona means the ultimate in motorcycle activities. It is mighty hard to get on paper the picture that is unfolded starting about three days before the event.

One sees groups of riders coming in from every section of the country. There is an official headquarters where the gang may congregate. There one can meet some rider or some dealer from almost every section of the country. A dictaphone setup of the good natured banter and conversation, known only to motorcycle riders, would be worth its cost many times over. These nightly and daily get-togethers are “tops” in our estimation. On Saturday night there is that annual meeting of the riders, drawing of numbers, and last minute instructions from the officials. We could live those nights over and over again. One sees the actual competitors mixing with each other the “good natured razzing” knowing that on the next day, they cease to be pals and are friendly enemies for about four hours. One looks out over that group of one hundred, clean cut representative boys, real assets to the grand sport of motorcycling; one sees that determined look in their faces and knows that out of the group will come one rider who will be winner. It sort of makes one’s old ticker go pitty-pat.

Then on Sunday morning comes hustle and bustle, checking in of motors, license certificates, etc. The boys this year went to the beach where they were checked as to class “C” equipment by Hank Syvertsen and Doug McGregor; by Boots Murphy for their A.M.A. cards; and finally by the secretary for their proof of ownership. Then, on down to the gasoline wagon for their gas and finally to the starting line where they were placed in the tender care of Jim Davis and Joe Petrali.

There was that confusion of hunting for starting position, officials running around. everyone on edge, all of them tense and ready to battle at the drop of the hat.

We were told to get out and get going. We arrived at our allotted place, high up in the corner of the stand. We could look down the beach and see a clear straight line that denoted the course these boys would travel; we saw the start and finish timers take their position in the starting stand. Over on the back stretch, we saw quite a number of men climbing up into a stand that had been erected over the course, just a short distance from the south turn. We saw Jim and Joe in conference, looked at our watch and it was just five minutes to twelve. We saw those lines of motorcycle riders, helmets adjusted, motors running-all in perfect line. One minute of twelve and we were as nervous as any rider, or probably worse. We tried to make conversation with Doug McGregor and Jules Horky of Philadelphia, our hard working assistants. Words would not come and we were trying to light a cigar that we did not have with a match that would not burn. The minute hand hit twelve and down dropped the starter flag in the hands of Joe Petrali. The first twenty riders left in groups of five! Ye Gods, what a sight! Down that long stretch of beach, the staccato crack of exhausts, motors going into the hazy distance-on their way for 63 long hard laps.

The next line started; then the next and almost before we could come to attention there was not a sign of a rider at the starting line.

We could hear the drone of motors as they came closer down that back stretch. It developed into a roar. Then the quick shutting off; buttons hit and into our view came five riders bunched so close that it was almost a blanket gathering. Paul Brown of Atlanta, Ga. was in front and therefore had the honor of leading the first lap. In quick succession came other riders, three in a group, five in a group, a never ending stream of them until it seemed as if everyone who came to Daytona was out there in the race.

Came the second lap and Paul Brown was still in front. The third lap a new face, that of Lester Hillbish took the front spot and for three laps he was the king pin. Then out of that south turn came Ed Kretz as the new leader and for three laps he was figuring on how to spend the prize money. Then came Tony Miller of Toronto to take the place forsaken by Kretz due to something wrong with his motorcycle or else that terrific fall that he had in practice was telling on him.

By this time, we had lost the position of riders as some were starting to go out, others gaining a lap on the field-and with us it was just a succession of numbers going by. We, however, had a pretty good picture as the same riders were coming around in about the same position and we figured that Miller, Hillbish, Campanale and Witinski were up among the leaders. Hillbish and some other rider had a bad fall, just going onto the beach and that put Lester back to some extent. At the 48th lap, Tony Miller had that bad accident and with pit stops and what have you the eventwas working itself in to a battle between Campanale, Hillbish, Tommy Hayes, who by the way was one of the real surprises of the day, Grif Kathcart and Billie Armstrong who was trying to emulate his illustrious father. These boys were going by us as No. 25, Campanale; No. 6, Hillbish; No. 107, Tommy Hayes; No. 77. Kathcart and No. 103, Billie Armstrong. There were other numbers sandwiched in between, but those were the relative positions, and so on until the end of the race.

An unfortunate thing occurred just about the end of the race in that the telephone hook-up between the checking stand and the finnish line went rather sour. Instead of getting word to the Starter at the 61st lap, they did not get word until, in some case the 65 and 66 lap. However, that made no difference with the finish as the time was taken at the end of the 63rd lap and that was the finish as far as the records were concerned. Some riders advised that they went 66 laps before they got the flag and wondered if that had any effect on their position. It did not as their time was taken at the 63rd lap, regardless of how many more they went. You have had the flash of the winning riders and the event has gone into motorcycle history.

We would like to mention all of the various incidents that happened; things that are told over and over again. We would like to mention the fact that Swede Simonson of Cleveland was very much in evidence; that Uncle Dudley Perkins was here, there and everywhere; about the meeting of the competition committee on Thursday morning and it was so cold that we had to find other quarters for the meeting.

If we were to list the names of every dealer present it would mean a dealer directory in The Motorcyclist. There are always some incidents that are related many times. There was the story that Hank Syvertsen told of how he and Bill Kasten had a “new” porter in their train on the way down and how he let them off about ten miles from Daytona so that Hank and Bill had to ride the rest of the way in with the engineer up in the cab. Bill wanted to be the engineer and they nearly got tossed off again. That is Hank’s story, but those in the “know” understand the two insisted on getting off the train; that they knew where they were-maybe!

Then “Red” Armstrong came up with a real gem the night after the races. The secretary was over in a corner listening to a couple of riders tell all of their experiences; for once the “sec” could not get in a word. It went on and on-hour after hour. Finally “Red” walked over and casually mentioned to one of the boys that “this would be a good time to place a period after the next sentence and let the secretary retire!”

Everyone around Daytona remarked about the fine behavior of the motorcycle crowd. There was not much open muffler stuff or the other things that have put motorcycle riders in the dog house with some local authorities. It was a real boost for the sport and proof was the fact that the officials of Daytona really went to bat with the competition committee when it came time to give out the event for next year. They want it back and they said so in no uncertain terms.

When Ed Kretz, Leo Anthony and Al Anupa hang up their handle bars, they will probably go in for radio work. You should have heard an interview conducted by the secretary and these three worthies on Friday night before the race. Of course, the boys were asked some rather pointed questions such as gear ratio, speed and what have you. Al Anupa advised the listening audience that he would rather ride a dozen 200 mile races than stand up before that little “mike.”

One local merchant was rather lukewarm on the idea of advertising in the program. On Monday after the race, he called the writer to one side and suggested that we have a race every week at Daytona! He further advised that he had done more business in four days, than for the entire previous month. Motorcycle riders are now “tops” with that gentleman.

The fellow who had the most fun at Daytona was Dud Perkins’ boon companion, a doctor friend from San Francisco. By Sunday night “Doc” was on close terms with every motorcycle rider at Daytona. I mean, he had one swell time and you can look for him next year.

Joe Hosley and Paul DuPont came down from Springfield, Mass., while Bill Harley and Walter Davidson. Jr., left the frigid weather in Milwaukee to freeze to death at Daytona.

Paul Treen of Servi-Cycle fame came on from New Orleans and all in all the registration book read like who is who and why.

They had a big party out on the pier on Sunday night after the races. The boys let their hair down and had a swell time. You can picture one table with Al Arnold. Red Armstrong, Shorty Lindstrom. Bill Harley. Ray Hummell and Swede Simonson! Who said there was such a thing as partisanship in motorcycling!

Out of every big major event, we all learn something; that makes the next event better. We profit by mistakes and there were mistakes made at Daytona, but not as many as we have had in the past. One mistake is the fact that too much work and responsibility are placed on a few. We have seen some tired riders after a race, but we have never seen any one as tired as race manager Dan Cunningham of Louisville, Ky. Dan was thither and yon for weeks before the race and if you don’t think that it is a job working up an event as large as Daytona, try it some time, or better still offer your assistance. There are about five dealers who give their time and money to make this event possible and we feel that every dealer in the South should help make the event better. We need more man power to insure the future of the event and our derby is doffed to Walt Cunningham, Geo. Cleary, Jim Flowers, Fats McCollough for their untiring efforts to make the event possible and something that means so much to the sport.

I am sure that in another year these men can be assured of additional help among the dealers in the Southern territory.

The clerical work in connection with checking should be divorced entirely from motorcycle riders and dealers. These fellows go down to Daytona to see the race and although they are willing to work, it is not fair to them and we hope that the day is not far distant when the event will be able to carry the additional weight of hired bank clerks or similar help for the checking and timing work.

We, personally, and we say this only in an unofficial capacity, feel that the number of starters should be limited to a number that can be handled easily and safely. We may be criticized for this attitude but it is the result of our own personal observation. Naturally we don’t want any rider to get hurt and if the entry list increases each year as it normally should, we will reach a point where it is dangerous and one bad smash-up will spoil all of the efforts that have been put forth over a period of years. Every rider in the country wants to compete at Daytona. That is natural. They want to think about trimming Hillbish, Campanale and Kretz. We appreciate their feeling in the matter, yet we feel that we would be doing them a great justice, if it were necessary for them to have at least a year’s experience before going against these veterans of the road. Our idea would be to limit the event to the Expert riders whose standing has been reached by ability and performance. We would like to see another event, say a 50- mile for the new boys. They would be competing against their equal and they would be gaining experience in a type of event where there is much to learn.

Maybe there is still a better way. We don’t profess to know all the answers. We do want to help do the thing that make for increasingly better races and above all safe for riders. I am sure motorcycling is big enough to safeguard the sport. We were indeed fortunate that we did not have any more accidents than took place. Those that we had were regrettable and all of us. would give much not to have had a one.

It was some race, some swell crowd, some bunch of dealers and every one had a swell time. We salute the dealers who made the event possible; we congratulate every entry for their showing regardless of where they finished; we pat the boys on the back for their sportsmanship and close with the hope that we will all be at Daytona next year and see an even bigger and better 200-mile national championship.

Daytona Results

The first 32 positions were listed in the February issue of The Motorcyclist. This month, on the inside back cover, there appears the remaining 67 starters.

Joe Petrali gives Campanale the official flag at the finish of his 200-mile grind in the 1938 Daytona classic
Leaving the beach and heading for the backstretch at Daytona. The turns were much improved over 1937
Top to Bottom-Left Column-Part of the lineup at the start; the turn from the backstretch onto the beach; the fast stretch along the shore; the turn off the beach Top to Bottom-Right Column-A checking stand across the backstretch; Petrali and Jim Davis as they officially check Campanale and flag him at the finish; one of several spills as the boys hit the fast stretch; more back stretch
Top to Bottom-the finishers in order: Campanale, Hillbish, Hayes and Kathcart. Everyone of these riders turned in excellent rides and each of the last three were but a narrow margin behind the winner