Photos and articles from the collection of

Joe Varner

Fresh out of high school, 18 year old Joe Varner dives into racing with this Fiat.
Joe remembers this day was a "photo opportunity" where everyone had their pictures taken. so he made sure he had on his best driving suit, a long sleeved flannel shirt!

His car is shown here as it appeared in 1968 racing at Hialeah Speedway. It was built by Raleigh Beatty and Miles Cole, and Raleigh is at the wheel in this shot. One night Joe snuck into this car to help dry the track off after some rain. He was hooked! He soon bought it and began racing at Florida City when the track reopened in 1970. Joe recalls that he didn't even have a street car when he got into racing, so Raleigh had to pull the Fiat to the track for the first few nights!
photo by Bobby (5X5) Day

October 2, 1971, a night to remember! Joe parked his car in victory circle after winning his first feature race. Fortunately, there are lots of pictures from his break-through night.
photo by Don Winchester

Joe salutes the crowd of 500 as he leads second place Bob Williams across the finish line. Rob Bean ran third.
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

Joe and his cousins Wayne Varner and Raleigh Beatty raced weekly, and were part of the volunteer crew that kept the track repaired and operating.
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

Check out that driving suit!
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

Here is a young man on top of the world.
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

That is George Sweeting in the X trying to work around Joe.
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

More feature action as Joe took on all challengers. He also won the heat race on this night.
photo by Don Winchester Oct. 2, 1971

1973 brought new colors and a new number for the Fiat.

In 1973, Joe stepped up to drive a new VW owned by his uncle, Red Howell.

Assistant starter Gerald Andrews looks over the new #9. This purple car was a fast from the start.
photo by Ed Oberlies, Feb. 24 1973

Heat and feature wins tonight! Joe Leserra and Rob Bean chased the 9 to the stripe.
photo by Ed Oberlies, March 24, 1973

Money and family pressures have cut lots of racing careers short. Eventually, this promising driver stepped back and got out of the sport too,
photo by Ed Oberlies March 24, 1973

After stock cars, Joe kept busy with dune buggies, and eventually moto-cross racing with his cousin Wayne.