Art Hartsfeld was a champion midget driver in the Detroit area and the midwest in the post-war years and a good friend of my father. This photo offers a dramatic and unique perspective on car and driver.
I am still gathering biographical information on Art but read on to see what I have uncovered so far about him along with additional photos of this handsome and well-liked driver.
One of my father's many driver portraits. This one is autographed, "To Al & Nora, the best of everything always - Art Hartsfeld". It appeared many times in programs and racing papers. It appeared March 15, 1940 in a publication called National Midget Speedway News. The tabloid is datelined Detroit, Michigan and lists Al Blixt as editor. Only the first portion of the article on Art remains. It reads
"Art Hartsfeld is a Veteran Racer
If you are a mid-West speed fan attending the midget races throughout that locality you will probably notice a tall, dark and handsome driver climb into one of the speed buggies and do his very darndest to capture the lion's share of the nights racing honors - that dear readers, is Art Hartsfeld.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, thirty years ago last May 22nd, Arthur Douglas Hartsfeld first became acquainted with the sport of speed driving motorcycles. It was in 1927 that Hartsfield started to create some attention as a pilot in the cycle sport, and it did not take long for our Toledo Speedster to top the best in this field, for in 1928 Hartsfield won the National Motorcycle Championship on a point rating basis throughout the U.S.A.
From 1929 on straight through until 1933, Art continued to crack marks in the motorcycle ranks which included setting world's records for the Indian Motor Cycle factory. He also raced in....."(clipping ends here.)
Art Hartsfeld battles with Al Bonnell at Motor City Speedway in 1946. I have a similar photo of Hartsfeld in this same car taken at the last race held in July 1942 before racing was cancelled for the duration.
"Art Hartsfeld explains some of the fine points of a racing engine to his wife who has donned a pair of his white pants and decided to give him a hand. She still looks somewhat puzzled. Note grease spot on her forehead. Photo by Al Blixt"
Art Hartsfeld "on the pole" leads at Motor City Speedway probably 1946. The white car is #22 Bill Boyd. Johnny Wohlfiel is in third on the far right. (Thanks to racing historian Steve Wolski who spotted them.)
Motor City Speedway almost did not reopen after the war. It was in very delapidated condition. It was rescued by a new management team led by Andy Barto. That story will be the subject of a future feature.
Art is holding a helmet, goggles, driving belt and a copy of Floyd Clymer's popular Indianapolis 500 Year Book that appear to be prizes for his victory. The year is probably 1948. This photo was probably taken by George Vargo.
Art Hartsfeld holds the winners trophy. The date and place are currently unknown but the inscription on the trophy indicates that it was a AAA sanctioned 100 mile race. Probably Detroit, perhaps on the 1-mile Michigan Fairgrounds Speedway. Taken about 1948.
Racing also involves promotion. Here we see Art Hartsfeld pointing out the finer points of his racer to a person identified as Clell Perry. This appears to be a racing convention. Probably about 1948. If you look carefully, you will see some of the photos shown here also posted in a booth run by my father likely promoting either Motor City Speedway or the Illustrated Speedway News.