Mingo County man a Hall of Fame drag racer
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — Last year in mid-October, Halcy Hatfield of Delbarton, West Virginia, received a phone call from Jim Winters of the West Virginia Drag Racers Hall of Fame. Hatfield’s presence was needed at the Doo Wop Car Show in Charleston. He had no idea why.
“They just told me to be in Charleston,” Hatfield said. “Come to Charleston during the car show. Well, I went up there.”
That was when he realized he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“They called my name,” Hatfield recalled. Danny Jones, the outgoing mayor of Charleston, presented Hatfield with a plaque. A legend had finally been given his due.
In 2013, Jim Winters and Gary Jarvis established the West Virginia Drag Racers Hall of Fame to recognize and honor West Virginians participating in the sport. Each year in October, a ceremony is held at the Doo Wop Car Show to induct members. It has a permanent home in the City of Winfield Building at 12448 Winfield Road.
Halcy Hatfield’s induction plaque is only one among many trophies and awards he has received during an illustrious drag racing career of more than 50 years. He also drives the second-oldest car, a ’66 Chevy II Supersport, on the circuit. His friend Bob Marshall of Columbus, still drives a ’65 Chevy Hemi.
Hatfield was born in Huntington on Sept. 28, 1945. After living in Wayne County for a while, his family moved to Elk Creek, near Delbarton, where he has resided since.
“I always liked old cars,” he said. “I always fooled with them. I never really had the money to do anything much with it until after Vietnam.”
For 13 months, he served as a radio operator with the 53rd Signal Battalion in the U.S. Army. After returning from Vietnam, he finished up his service at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“When I come home, then we started fooling with old cars,” he said. “I had an old ’55 Chevy.”
Hatfield won his first race at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. “I won a little old trophy for class,” he said. “And from there I just kept going.” Since 1970, he has been driving the ’66 Chevy II Supersport.
In 1980, Hatfield set a record of 10:96 in Rockingham, North Carolina, breaking a previous record of 11:42. He has also set records at race tracks in Columbus; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Norwalk, Ohio; Clay City, Kentucky; and Louisville, Kentucky. One of the highest points of his career was winning the World Nationals in Norwalk in 1997. He was also runner-up at the Bristol Summer Nationals as recently as 2017.
At 73, Hatfield continues to compete.
When Hatfield is unable to make a race, Emily Volkman of North Carolina drives the ’66 Chevy II Supersport.
“She drove it for a year or so, and she’s done real good with it,” said Hatfield. “I mean, we got runner-up at Bristol, got runner-up at Rockingham. We went to Beech Bend Sports Nationals in Bowling Green, Kentucky, went five rounds plus won a class. So we had a pretty good year.”
At his side most of his career was Hatfield’s wife, Eileen, who died in 2014. “We enjoyed it together,” Hatfield said. “We met a lot of good people. I met people all over the country. Honest, decent people. A lot of times I lost, didn’t do no good. But we were still happy.”
When asked to describe the secret of his success, Hatfield said, “I keep my stuff up to date. I keep it clean. If there’s something that I need to do to make it better or safer, I do it. And I try to keep myself in pretty good shape.”
He also does most of his own engine and body work, so he still likes fooling with old cars.
“He’s a gentleman. He’s a great person,” said Greg Copley, Hatfield’s Coca-Cola sponsor who services six counties from Whitman Creek, West Virginia. “Just for somebody to stay as dedicated to their sport as Halcy has says a lot about him. He’s an icon for our area.
“There’s not a whole lot of champions that come out of southern West Virginia, and he is a champion.”