A Return To The Driver’s Seat After 48 Years?


(WOMR file photo)

Crawling into a race car and strapping in behind the steering wheel is nothing new for Yuma resident Bob Bennett.  The only bad thing is that he has not done that in 48 years!  All that will change tonight at the Cocopah Speedway.

Tonight the 76 year old Foothills resident will climb into a factory stock and race it in round 2 of the Cocopah Speedway Racing Series.  However, Bennett is not climbing into just any factory stock car, he is getting the opportunity to drive the race car that won the championship in that division last race season.

“It is like riding a bicycle,” said Bennett this week as he talked about Saturday night.  “You don’t forget.”

That may be true, but 48 years is a very long time to try to remember the intricacies of race car driving !  Nevertheless, someone with Bennett’s qualifications most likely never forgets all the tools of the trade.  Bennett raced sprint cars and midgets from 1955-1972.  In that time span he won a few racing titles including one national midget championship along the way.  In addition to his open wheel prowess, he has logged over 43,000 miles at Daytona as a test driver for Ford and Firestone!


“There is no better feeling, like in the midgets and sprint cars, when you put the back bumper into the first corner,” adds Bennett.  “It’s something that’s very,very hard to describe.  Only if you  are a racer can you get that feeling, because you know you’re doing right and the car’s doing right.”

The Detroit native said that he had this in the back of his mind, a return to racing, but it was more of dream than a reality.  However, about a year ago racing at the Cocopah Speedway was resurrected, simultaneously, Bennett’s good friend and owner of Team Ramco, Flash Sharrar, decided to build a race car to race at Cocopah Speedway.

Because the primary driver, Sharrar’s son Matthew, has other commitments, he will not be available to drive the race car on a full-time basis this season.  Therein lies the reason given for Bennett’s first opportunity to drive a race car in 48 years!

It will be very interesting to see if driving a race car is truly like riding a bicycle, as Bennett contends.  Can a 76 year old former champion compete with the current younger group of “throttle-jockeys” at Cocopah Speedway?  Tonight the answer will unfold before our very eyes!

See you tonight at the race track!



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