My competition origins are an important part of Arc-Zone.com’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 Arc-Zone.com. 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.
I 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 V8 60 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.
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