When area auto racing fans think of standouts the name of Dick Barton will have to be near the top of any list. In a career that spanned 42 years, he has set standards that may never be equaled.
Barton recorded 228 feature wins at 13 different tracks over 30 years of Super Late Model competition.
Barton won 80 feature races at Stateline Speedway in Busti, New York, 42 at Eriez Speedway in Erie, Pennsylvania, 36 at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio, 24 at McKean County Raceway in Smethport, Pennsylvania, and 13 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania. Other wins earned were 11 at Little Valley Speedway (NY), 7 at Sharon Speedway (OH), and 5 at Tri-City Speedway (PA). The final 10 wins were 3 each at Hagerstown Speedway (MD) and Challenger Raceway (PA), two at Freedom Raceway (NY) and one each at Mercer Raceway (PA) and Woodhull Raceway (NY).
Track point titles were also a hallmark of his Super Late Model career. Barton was a 10-time point champion at Stateline and a 7-time champ at Eriez. He also won the Stateline-Eriez Circuit championship 6 times.
Other tracks at which he earned point championships include Raceway 7 (4), Sharon Speedway (2), McKean County Raceway (3) and Little Valley Speedway (5). He was also a 2-time United Late Model Series champion, the PONY Series champ in 2004 and a 6-time Calvacade Late Model Champion.
Prior to beginning his ultra-successful super late model career in 1985, Dick raced in the Sportsman Division at Stateline and Eriez Speedways from 1973 through 1984. He captured 15 wins at Eriez Speedway, 7 at Stateline Speedway and took the Stateline Sportsman point championship in 1983.
He also briefly competed in the Crate Late model class from 2007 to 2008 earning 17 feature wins at seven different tracks and the Raceway 7 track title in 2007.
Dick Barton was born on October 16, 1954, in Falconer, NY, to Oleta and Clarence Barton. He began his racing career in go-karts at the age of 12. His parents served as his pit crew and at the age of 14 he was the Western New York kart champion. He graduated from Falconer Central School in 1972.
Rod Barton, his uncle and an open-wheeled Sportsman driver at both Stateline and Eriez Speedways, got his nephew involved in automobile racing in the summer of 1973. Dick was permitted to compete in heat races in his uncle's No. 9 car.
In 1974, Barton, with help from his uncle, built his own Sportsman racer and competed in that classification through 1980 with 13 feature runs.
In 1981, Barton sold all of his equipment and took over the driving duties of a Sportsman car owned by a group called Race Team 14. Over the next four years, that group recorded nine feature wins and the 1983 Stateline Sportsman's title.
After the 1984 season, Stateline and Eriez, which had operated as a two-track circuit since 1961, were sold to separate individuals and both tracks dropped the Sportsman Division. So Barton and Race Team 14 started racing in the Super Late Model Division for the first time in 1985. His rookie year saw Barton win six features plus the Eriez point championship.
Barton emerged with 14 feature wins in 1986, including victories at Sharon and McKean County, plus capturing point titles at Stateline and Eriez Speedways. For the first time he won the Cavalcade Late Model Award, given annually by Racing News columnist Walt Wimer to the top performer in the tri-state area of Western New York, Northwestern Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio.
Barton defended his title at Stateline in 1987 and recorded seven feature wins, including one at Speedway 7 (OH).
In 1988, Barton gained track crowns at Sharon and Eriez Speedways in addition to eight feature wins. One of those was the $4,000 Budweiser 100 at Stateline on July 4.
In 1989, Barton repeated as Sharon Speedway champ, won three features and had 37 top-ten finishes, including a sixth-place finish in the Dirt Track World Championship at Pennsboro, West Virginia.
The decade of the 1990s started off with Barton claiming track titles at both Stateline and Eriez and the combined circuit title on the Stateline-Eriez circuit which was revived. His No. 14B won seven features with two being at Lernerville Speedway.
Also, Barton had a third-place finish in the Pittsburgher 100 at the Pennsylvania Motor Speedway and a third fast qualifying time at the DTWC at Pennsboro.
Barton and Race Team 14 were very busy in 1991 with 66 starts that produced eight feature wins and 54 top 10 finishes. He won $10,000 in the STARS-sanctioned NAPA 100 on July 4 at Stateline where he repeated as track champ and was also the Stateline-Eriez circuit kingpin. Barton was named by Stateline-Eriez promotor Fritz Seamens as the Driver of the Year.
The year of 1992 saw Barton have seven feature wins and 35 top 10 results in 47 starts. In December, Race Team 14 was disbanded due to lack of funding and all assets were sold.
In 1993, Barton joined forces with Meadville businessman Ron Nielson to form a new team that included his former Race Team 14 crew members. Nielson's potent black Fords, sponsored by The Bolt Place, were numbered 28 in honor of the late NASCAR driver Davey Allison.
In his very first outing for Mr. Nielson, Barton won the Springfest at Hagerstown, Maryland. All told he had 17 feature wins and 15 runner-up finishes in 60 starts in ‘91.
Barton won 15 consecutive King of the Hill races at Stateline and also the $7,000 Redneck 100 there. He won six straight features at three different tracks and strung together four more in August. Seamens named Barton Stateline-Eriez Driver of the Year after winning titles at both those speedways once again. Also, he was named the top ranked dirt driver in the Northeast in Will White's prestigious Northeast Dirt Late Model standings.
Once more in 1994, Barton was outstanding with 13 feature wins and three track titles in route to being Driver of the Year at Stateline-Eriez.
In 1995, Barton had six feature wins and 32 top three finishes among 65 starts. He earned his sixth Eriez title and fifth Stateline-Eriez Circuit crown.
In 1996, the Barton-Nielson combination dominated the local racing circuit with track titles at all three weekly racing stops. Victory lane was reached 18 times with seven at Stateline and six at Ace High Speedway (formerly Speedway 7) along with four at Eriez leading the way.
Postseason awards included Barton and Nielson being Stateline-Eriez Driver and Team of the Year, Will White's Northeast Dirt Late Model champion and Wimer's Cavalcade champion.
The season of 1997 brought changes that saw Barton and Nielson adopt a pick and choose style of racing instead of point chasing at home tracks.
Barton copped 12 wins at six different tracks with five at Tri-City topping the list, 3 at Ace High and one each at Stateline, Eriez, McKean County and Little Valley.
Things changed again in 1998 as the Barton racing effort was cut down with no Sunday racing and return to point chasing on Friday and Saturday. There were only 44 starts compared to over 60 in previous seasons, but Barton still managed to win 11 features with 22 top three finishes and 33 top 10 results. McKean County was the site of the most feature wins with five. Track championships were earned at McKean County and Raceway 7 (formerly Ace High Speedway).
In 1999, the Barton and Nielson Team competed for the first three months without a win and switched chassis manufacturers. Barton was then able to pick up six wins over the second half of the season with two each at Stateline and Raceway 7.
The start of the new decade in 2000 was very successful as Barton had 18 feature wins in 54 starts for a terrific winning percentage of 33 percent. Barton came through with eight seconds and the same number of thirds for 34 top-three finishes.
He won a record-tying eighth Stateline title despite running an incomplete schedule there. He was among the top three in 12 appearances with seven wins.
Barton was victorious four of his six races at Eriez plus won two in five starts at McKean. Postseason awards included Driver of the Decade at Stateline, Hard Charger of the Year at Raceway 7 and a third Cavalcade Late Model championship award from Wimer.
In 2001, Barton recorded 13 wins and 17 seconds in route to his fourth Cavalcade Late Model crown. Barton won championships at Raceway 7 for the third time on the strength of six wins and four seconds and at Little Valley thanks to a win and two seconds. Five wins were also picked up at Stateline, including his 100th career Stateline-Eriez feature victory, and a Mid-Atlantic Championship Series (MACS) win at McKean. Barton was recognized at the 2002 Motorsports Show in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, as co-recipient of the Winningest Driver in the Northeast.
The 2002 season saw Barton reach double figures in feature wins for the ninth time with 11 victories. He was in the top three 21 times, the top five 28 times and the top 10 33 times in 43 starts. Barton earned the biggest payday of his distinguished career with a $15,000 victory in the MACS sanctioned Fall Fest at Challenger Raceway.
Championships were won at McKean and Little Valley. Another highlight for Barton was a fifth Cavalcade championship for being the top Late Model driver in the tri-state area.
In 2003 The Bolt Place Team had another banner year. Seven wins at McKean County Raceway resulted in Barton's third track championship at the Smethport, PA oval. Two victories, including the inaugural $5,000 to win Fall Classic, and a string of top ten finishes allowed Dick to claim his fourth career track title at Raceway 7. The United Late Model Series Tri-State Challenge and the ULMS season-long point championship also fell to the overpowering consistency of the Barton gang. Another season highlight was a second place run in the annual MACS sanctioned Fallfest at Challenger Raceway. Finally, based on the quantity and quality of top three feature finishes, Dick captured his sixth Cavalcade LM Championship. He then ranked second on that all-time list to legendary Bob Wearing Sr., who had seven titles in the 30-year history of the Cavalcade Award.
Measured against the unusually high standards Dick and his team have set for themselves over the years, 2004 fell short of expectations. Even though 36 top 10 finishes were achieved in 52 events, the team tied a career low of just three feature wins. The lone bright spot was the championship winning run to the inaugural Pennsylvania-Ohio-New York (PONY) Series point title.
In the year 2005, Dick Barton reached a milestone that had never been previously achieved by any other racer from the region of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. On July 23rd at Stateline Speedway, Dick earned his 200th career dirt late model feature win. He also scored four other wins and 30 top ten finishes in forty-one starts. Barton was the runner-up in points at Raceway 7, Little Valley and the Regional Racing Series for the 2005 season.
More records were set during the 2006 season. First, Dick won the Stateline Speedway Late Model Point Championship for the 9th time, breaking the previous mark of 8 held by the legendary Bob Schnars. Second, Barton's four wins at Raceway 7 pushed his career total to a new record of 35 late model victories at the Conneaut, OH speedway, eclipsing the mark formerly held by Chub Frank. Third, on July 1st, Dick became the first "local" driver to ever win a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event when he captured the $10,000 to win Roberts 50 at Stateline. Barton set fast time, won both his heat and the dash, and led flag to flag to defend his home turf against the Outlaw invaders. In all, the 28B team garnered nine wins (four at Stateline, four at Racway 7, and one at Challenger), 20 top three finishes, and 25 top 10 results in their 50 race season.
The 2007 brought a major change in direction for Dick. Under the leadership of Raceway 7 track owner, Ron Nielson, FASTRAK sanctioned "crate engine" late models were introduced into the tri-state area and replaced the open engine super late models at his Conneaut, OH speedway, among other tracks. As a result, Mr. Nielson requested that the 28B crew convert one of his racecars to FASTRAK specifications and compete in the new division. The major change involved replacing their Brad Malcuit built unrestricted Ford engine with a GM Performance built 400 hp Chevy power plant. Dick took to the new challenge like a fish to water. Competing in 21 "crate" races, he captured 10 wins, four second-place finishes, four thirds, a pair of fourths, and a season-worst fifth. Among the scores were two FASTRAK Northeast Regional events and a $5000 to win FASTRAK National race at Mercer Raceway Park. At season's end, Barton had earned the FASTRAK Raceway 7 point title, a runner-up spot in the FASTRAK Northeast Region, despite not competing in all the scheduled events, and an fifth place result in the FASTRAK National point chase. Finally, Walt Wimer declared Dick the 2007 Calvacade Limited Late Model Champion.
The 28B team continued running both super late models and Fastrak crate late models in 2008. Highlights for the super late model effort were wins at Stateline, Eriez, and Little Valley. The Fastrak crate model visited victory lane a total of six times: twice at Raceway 7, three times at McKean County, and once at Dog Hollow Speedway (PA). Barton ended up fourth in Fastrak National Weekly points, second in Fastrak Northeast Regional Tour points, and ninth in Fastrak Grand National points.
A lone 2009 win at Stateline and just 9 top-five finishes in 31 events brought a bitter-sweet end to the 17-year partnership between Ron Nielson, Barton and the crew as Nielson decided to retire from the sport. The final ledger for the Nielson era showed 172 wins and 31 track and series titles.
John Kennedy assumed the ownership of the #14B in 2010 and 2011. Barton produced 6 wins, 30 top-fives and 50 top-tens in 72 races for Kennedy and won the 2011 Little Valley track championship.
Brothers John and Charlie Lacki offered Dick the seat in their cars for the 2012, 2013, and ultimately, the final season of 2014. The Lacki-Barton team captured 7 feature wins, 38 top-fives and 57 top–tens in 88 races together, plus the 2013 Stateline track championship.
On September 14, 2014, Barton achieved the defining moment of his career when he won his record-setting 80th Super Late Model feature win at Stateline Speedway, eclipsing the previous mark of his boyhood idol Bob Schnars.
Securely ensconced as the all-time leader in both career wins (80) and track championships (10) at his hometown racetrack, the 60-year-old Barton retired with numbers at Stateline Speedway that may likely never be exceeded.
In 42 years of automobile racing, Dick Barton competed in about 1,750 races, winning 267 times and earning 46 track and series titles.
Dick Barton was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2003.