The Business of Racing


My competition origins are an important part of’s history because the business of racing, amateur and professional, is a demanding and exacting one. Success in racing is forged from hard work and dedication. Racing does not tolerate the imprecise nor does it reward those who place style ahead of function. Innovation, thorough preparation and attention to detail are the foundations of a successful racing team.

The work ethic of racing is woven into everything we do at It’s not enough for a part to look good; it must also work well, and serve a useful function. We apply a “racing quality standard” to every product and service we sell. Whether it’s MIG, TIG, Plasma Arc Welding or cutting, Oxy fuel, parts or related welding and metal fabricating accessories — you can be sure you’re getting the best product available at a fair price.

1.jpgI got into racing thanks to my Dad, Jim Watson Sr. who was raised in the rich farm lands of the central valley in California my Dad was introduced to Midget racing by my great Uncle Ben Humke. Known across the country as “Farmer Ben.” As a car owner In the 1950’s and early sixties he was a multi time URA champion, and winner in USAC, AAA and BCRA and other sanctioned events.

Farmer Ben was a modest cotton/dairy farmer with a keen sense of numbers. He had a policy “if the race car didn’t pay for itself we don’t race.”

He had many famous hot shoes that drove for him– Billy Garrett (pictured above), Marty Mazman, were the most noteable champions. They primarily raced Midgets in the central valley at tracks like Visalia Speedway, Hanford Speedway, Lemoore Jetbowl, Contra Costa Fairgrounds, Clovis Speedway, Tulare Speedway, Watsonville Speedway, Kearney Bowl in Fresno and many more.

Midget racing was big then, and each car was hand built and car owners used a variety of power plants, from the high-end “Offy” or Offenhauser engine and the Ford V8 60 to Ferguson tractor and marine engines. The Solar Midget (now Solar Turbines) even used a Drake which was a highly modified Harley-Davidson VTwin.

A true innovator, Farmer Ben solved the overheating problem common with Ford V8 60 racing engines. Ben engineered a remote water-cooling system that was run by a custom fabricated water pump, he reworked the engine block with a series of baffles and diverters in the cooling passages.

He did all the work in his barn in Tulare Ca. I loved that place, a big barn with a little Midget race car and all the tools it takes to build one inside! I still have my Uncle Ben’s 1929 Atlas lathe (photo coming soon) and the chucks and tools that he used to make his own pistons and other engine parts.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did while they happened and now looking back. I know there are many people that have similar interests and hopefully these stories will put a smile on your face.

Please feel free to comment (Click on the “Leave A Comment” link at the bottom of this post)


8 comments on “The Business of Racing”:

  1. Randy Haberman

    Hey Jim, I mean Joe,

    This site is awesome! The picture of Farmer Ben really brings back some memories! The dirt track races at American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois this past week were incredible! I forgot how exciting it was to see drivers lifting the left front all the way down the straightaway.

    Let me know if you need any more “historical” pictures of #51. I have the whole fabrication sequence of your chassis on the garage floor! I’m off to the Goodguys Nostalgia Nationals in Indy on June 8th. It’s the 75th anniversary of the ’32 Ford and we can drive around the Brickyard in our ’32’s. Hey remember your buddy’s ’32 3-window coupe- “Brew 32”?

    Talk to you soon.


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  2. jim clemence

    I came across your website while trying to resolve an argument about a midget race track in my old town of south gate calif. My dad owned a welding shop in south gate from 1938 thru 1963. He did a lot of welding for the Meyer brothers who owned a Offenhauser shop in south gate on Atlantic blvd. As a child a remember going to a race track near the Los Angeles river to watch Johnnie McDowell race in Louie Meyers car. There was also a track I believe called Atlantic Speedway a short distance away
    where we would go. My old friend from grammer school does not remember any racing in south gate. Was there a track there?

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  3. Debbie Wood

    Hi Jim Joe,

    Found this site doing research on my dad Johnnie Wood who use to race for Farmer Ben.

    This article brought me way back. And tears to my eyes. I was in your uncles barn many times when I was a kid watching them work on the midgets. Had my first cantaloupe there, and my first face to face with a goat. I remember it well. He was an amazing man. I can remember all the talk about the cooling system he had in the car #3 that my dad drove.

    Its nice to see the old timers being remembered they were the heart and soul of the of the racing world and so often forgotten.

    Thanks for the great memories
    Debbie Wood Farris

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  4. Jack

    @jim clemence and @Editor,
    I don’t think he’s talking about Trojan. I think the racetrack he is referring to is the old Ascot Raceway at the end of Tweedy at the LA River. Seems it was there from late 30s thru the 40s. There were 4 Ascot raceways back in the day. I’d love to see some pix of this one if anyone knows where they might be hiding at this point.

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  5. Glen Dennee

    Hi Joe,
    I just brought your Uncle Ben’s car, do you have some picture or info regarding the car so I can put it back to as original as I can? I race against you Uncle many times in USAC and BCRA. It has been restored but all yellow paint scheme, I thought it has some blace and if I remember sometimes it was totally black but my memory is not what it use to be.

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  7. Scott Green

    I grew up in central California, we had a cotton farm in Tulare. My dad, Homer Green was friends with Bob Humpke. I remember my dad telling me stories about midget racing. He used to take me to Kearney Bowl in Fresno, a great midget track. Don’t know why I decided to search Ben Humpke, but glad I did, great pic and article. Lot of racing history in the central valley of California, and Ben is a wonderful part of it. God Bless, Scott

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