My Car Quest

February 22, 2018

More About The Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt

by Don Meluzio

I hope you read here recently about me showing my Fiat Abarth Record Monza at Amelia Island. There I was approached by two incredibly enthusiastic people who were well versed in all things Abarth.

It turns out it was John and Suzanne Denton, son and daughter of a real pioneer of Road Racing in America J.W. Denton.

The Team Roosevelt story gets better; about two weeks ago I received a phone call from Amelia Island; a fellow by the name of Bob Vann thought he may have once owned my Abarth Record Monza. That turned out not to be the case, but that was not important. It opened the door for me to meet another Team Roosevelt Car owner.

Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt

As you read the other day, it is believed that Hershel Harkins was the college roommate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. who was the distributor for Fiat Cars in North America. Hershel Harkins became a Jaguar and Fiat Dealer in Ashville, North Carolina , probably through his relationship with FDR Jr. It turns out that Bob Vann bought three of the Team Roosevelt race cars from Hershel in 1960. Bob bought them just as they came off the race track.

In the photo below, Hershel is in the black suit, and leaning on the No. 87 car is Bob Vann ready to go racing with his two buddies. Written on the photo is “Good Hunting Bob!” – signed by Hershel Harkins.

Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt

Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt

Bob, sent me some of his race entries and guess who he was competing against? None other than J.W. Denton. It has been a great experience meeting my two new Abarth friends. We can all share the memories of these little terrors that tore up the race tracks in the 1950s and 1960s.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt

Sell your classic car on My Car Quest – click here.

Abarth

Summary
More About The Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt
Article Name
More About The Fiat Abarth Team Roosevelt
Description
Bob Vann was a successful Fiat Abarth race car driver with Team Roosevelt.
Author

Comments

  1. Bill Clark says:

    The pic of three abarths in front of Hershel Harkins dealership info for you the man by the 84 car is my dad Tom Clark he raced this car for years. I lost track of the car in toledo Ohio

  2. lugana rossi says:

    We bought a red Abarth 750 Zagato Record Monza in the USA in 1992, the seller said it was one of the Roosvelt team and he gave us some photos of the car when it raced. It is a monoalbero , we restored it and we put the number 83 on it as we saw in the photos. We can’t be sure it raced in Daytona as he told us. Can someone help us? Is there a document with the numbers of the team Roosvelt cars’ chassis?

  3. lugana rossi says:

    We bought the car from Bill Rhodes who bought it from Barry Clark, Do you know him? If yes, he mihìght help me to know something about the hstory of the car

  4. Cliff Presley says:

    I use to own car number 83 in your photos which I purchased from Eric Alexander.
    One correction, Bobbie Vann never drove for Team Roosevelt, nor did Eric Alexander; however, Eric was licensed by the SCCA and raced car number 83 (when it was owned by Bobbie Vann) at the Chimney Rock Hill Climb.

    If you would like more info feel free to contact me.

  5. Lugana Rossi says:

    Thanks a lot for your reply, but I have a lot of things I can’t understand. I saw a lot of photos of car 83, team Roosvelt: in some of them the car has got vertical back lights, in others it has got horizontal back lights like my car. They are not the same cars! How many 83 cars are there? You said you used to own the car in the photo and that it was not a team Roosvelt car, didn’t you? Who are Bobbie Vann and Eric Alexander? Did your car have vertical back lights or not? Do you know Barry Clark? He should be one of the owner of my car. When we bought the car it was in awful conditions , no race numbers on it, with the roll bar inside. The seller told us it was a team Roosvelt car, he gave us some photos of the car in a race with written team Roosvelt on it . But too many things are obscure about its history. Could you help us to know if it was in the Roosvelt team? Thanks a lot for your patient reply and for my English.
    Best regards
    Lugana

    • Cliff Presley says:

      I may have part of the answer to the riddle about how many Team Roosevelt cars used number 83?

      Every year when new models was released by Abarth, Team Roosevelt would get the newer models and sell the previous year models to independent racers; however, apparently Team Roosevelt continued to use the original (older) numbers on their new cars.

      There also seems to be a lot of confusion about the picture showing the three cars that Bobby Vann, Eric Alexander and Tom Clark purchased from Team Roosevelt. The sell was brokered by Hershel Hawkins a Fiat Dealer in Asheville, NC.

      Bobby bought car number 83, Tom Clark bought car number 84 and Eric Alexander bought car number 87; however, in the photo Bobby is seen standing behind car number 87, Tom is behind car number 84 and Eric is standing behind the red car number 83. None of those three cars had duel cam engines.

      A couple of years later I bought car number 87 from Eric and a fellow by the name of ‘Hoot’ Gibson bought Bobby’s red car number 83.

      It is also important to understand that none of the three men in the picture with Hershel Hawkins ever race for Team Roosevelt. While it is true that they bought the three cars from Team Roosevelt they did so with the intention of racing them as private independent owners. . . after they removed the original numbers seen on the cars in the photograph.

      Cliff Presley
      Charlotte, NC

  6. happy to have now car no 84 .Its was in Belguim and winning with DIDI(famous Belguim rallydriver ) Liege ROme Liege with it.Now in our “abarth works museum” and will be use in hill clim and regularity rally . guy moerenhout

    • Bill Clark says:

      Is this the car that my Dad, Tom Clark, owned in the Hershel Hawkins photo on this site. If so how did this car end up in Belgium from Toledo Ohio?? Also if this is the car then video footage of it racing with my dad at the wheel can be seen on the “Tar Heel Traveler” Chimney Rock Hill Climb episode. This is available online. I was planning to look for the car after retiring next year unless this is the car. I think I may have racing documents from Sebring on the car also.

      Thanks,
      Bill Clark

      • sorry Bill ;I did not see this . Yes I have no 84 and will be happy iff you have some more info for it/
        you can see on my webside(forum) our send direct .I will pay cost for sending .

    • Bill Clark says:

      Do you have any photos of its restoration? I was told that it was crashed in Toledo.

      Bill Clark

      • it was restored many years ago by DIDI , ex rally champion in Belguim

        • I was told that there was more than one #84 car. Dad’s was a 750. We are in the middle of moving to Florida and I will look for any chassis#’s or other info on Dad’s car.

          thanks,
          Bill Clark

Speak Your Mind

*

Find us on Google+