One of Our Own: An Interview with Dick Barton

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Dick Barton

Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut

Dick Barton simply said with typical humility, “I’m looking forward to it,” when asked about “TEAM: The Dick Barton Story,” the pulse-quickening video documentary about his remarkable auto racing career. It is slated to premiere on Sunday, May 23rd, at 6:00 p.m. at the National Comedy Center in downtown Jamestown, NY.

Dick is a man who always valued his friends, his pit crew, and his sponsors as much as his own thrill at winning. And Dick is undoubtedly the all-time winningest super late-model driver ever to compete on the famous 1/3-mile oval at Stateline Speedway in Busti, NY.

Home-Grown Champion

“I was born and raised in Falconer and I graduated from Falconer high school,” Dick told the Gazette. Then he added in true story-book fashion, “and I married my high school sweetheart, Joan. We bought a home in Asheville and we still live there today.” They also raised their two children in that home—both graduates of the Panama school system—Aaron, now living in Tampa, Florida, and Andrea, who still lives locally.

Though no longer racing, competitive sports still top the list of Dick’s favorite pastimes. “Now that I’m retired, I play golf probably five or six times every week. I am a member at Chautauqua and I play other courses in the area too.” Since winter in Chautauqua County is not known for golf, Dick can also keep his game sharp with visits in Tampa. “At my best, hitting from the senior tee,” Dick added with obvious satisfaction, “I’ve shot just over par for the course.”

Dick Barton

It’s About the People

Dick worked as an outside salesman, on the road for The National Automotive Parts Association, best known as NAPA, for 39 years. “It’s rare in these days to keep a job that long,” Dick said. “I was happy in that job. I appreciated my time with the company.” But it was the people who made the job most rewarding for him.

“Selling is about establishing relationships and I was very, very lucky to have a number of customers who were fabulous people,” Jim explained.

“I was blessed while I was working. It was just a wonderful group of clients that I dealt with,” he added. “My customers, after 39 years, were more than customers, they were my friends.”

And among those friends are three of his closest—at the track and in the community—who created “TEAM: The Dick Barton Story,” Greg Peterson, local attorney, Randy Anderson, president of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame, and Randy Sweeney, retired director of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.

The Good Life

“I absolutely love living here,” Dick said. “My friends and family are here, and you can’t find any more beautiful countryside than what we have right here in the Allegheny foothills. It is just gorgeous.”

Dick wrapped up his interview with a personal message for Jamestown Gazette readers. “If you surround yourself with quality, capable people, more often than not good things can happen.”

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.