The Dale Singleton Story
Preface: While working on this I had the honor of spending time with Spencer Singleton who is Dale's younger brother, I was given the grand tour of all of Dale's trophies, memorabilia and Spencer answered every question I asked. Having known of Dale while I was growing up and knowing of his accomplishments this was a huge honor for me; one I will cherish the rest of my life, to see the history up close and in person. So a very special “Thank you” to Spencer Singleton for his gracious hospitality and candor.
A man who truly did it his way.
1955 saw lots of interesting things happen; gas was .23 cents per gallon, the average home cost $10,950.00 and a brand new black and white TV cost $99.00. It was an exciting time in America.
New laws came out requiring seat belts in all cars, the first can of soft drink, Coca-Cola was unveiled. Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and the Comets, Chuck Berry and The Platters, were hitting the scene of Rock and Roll music. The Disneyland resort and theme park, located in Anaheim, California, opened its doors in July, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's restaurant and Dwight D. Eisenhower was President.
But in a small Northwest Georgia town of Dalton, a baby was born named Dale Singleton. It didn't seem to be a huge event to anyone other than the Singleton Family, but a few years later it would. As one of the greatest privateer racers begin to make his mark on the world of racing.
It wasn't until 1967 that the bug hit Dale, when his father brought home a Rupp minibike, Dale's first motorcycle. From then on it was an obsession with Dale as he dreamed of racing his heroes that he read about in the magazines.
In 1969 Dale entered his first racing event on a Suzuki 80 in Cleveland TN, bringing home a 5th place finish. Dale began sportsman racing on dirt tracks with moto-cross, flat tracks, and scrambles. It wasn't long before he gained recognition and became a favorite on a 100cc bike in short track events everywhere he went.
It was the beginning of a racing career that has no equal. With a determination and passion for doing things his way, he forged ahead, always looking to move up, to compete with the best, to be better, to be the best.
Early in his career Dale realized that no one did things like he liked them, and he began with the old adage of “If you want it done right, do it yourself”. Taking on each task, with the focus of it being exactly right, each detail had to be completed to Dale's exacting standards. It was “his way or the highway” and this way of thinking is one of the driving factors that helped take him to the top. But wasn't always easy. Dale's father wasn't really fond of Dale's dreams of racing. In fact he offered to buy Dale a brand new car when Dale graduated high school if he would give up this dream of racing, and Dale told his dad, “Dad, I believe I'll just keep on driving this little ol’ Maverick I got here and go to the short tracks on Saturday nights,” because this dream had become his life, his goal, his passion.
With C.E. Singleton's motorcycle shop, the family made the trek to Daytona each year, watching the bikes run the road course at the famed home of racing, Daytona International Speedway. In 1972 Dale got his chance when he and his dad built a motorcycle for sportsman amateur racing competition. Dale brought home the win, and the desire to go even faster was now deeply seated in this young man. Working with his father on this project also taught Dale to become a meticulous mechanic and to have an attention to detail that served him well throughout his racing career.
Early in his career he was chasing that extra MPH, that extra tenth of a second in a testing session, when he seized the engine on his bike testing at a remote location, undaunted he carried the bike back to his hotel room, and tore it down to fix the problem, sitting there repairing his engine in the hotel he was spotted by Taylor White who asked him what he was doing, Dale responded “I am building the engine, because I am going to go get the win tomorrow” White chuckled and gave Dale his card, “when you win call me; I will buy you a new motorcycle.” It was the beginning of a partnership that served both well.
In 1973, Singleton with sponsorship from racing enthusiast Taylor White, began racing a 250 Grand Prix bike as a novice, working his way up the ladder, chasing his dream, and doing it his way over the next 3 years. In 1976 he made the move to racing professionally. In his rookie pro season, he showed that his way was working by scoring his first national points in the national road race at Loudon, New Hampshire. It was just a glimmer of what was to come from this young man from Georgia.
1977 saw Singleton make huge gains, with a string of top 10 finishes and his first podium finish at Sonoma, California, wrapping up the season with a 4th place in National Points AMA National Road Race standings.
1978 saw Singleton finish second in National Points Standings, with his first career win in National Points Series at the Loudon Classic road race. 1978 also saw Singleton venture out and begin racing abroad with the American team in the annual Anglo-American Match Races.
1979 was a magical year for Singleton, going to Daytona, and taking his first win in the Daytona 200, beating David Aldana for the win as a privateer, besting all the factory teams.
It was also the year that Elmer showed up.
Elmer was a pig; not just any pig, but a baby pig. A few years earlier during career, Singleton had been racing and traveling with another racer Jeff Purvis. When passing thru his home town of Dalton, Dale almost forgot to take care of a chore his father had asked him to do… feed the pigs. Singleton's father and a family friend has bought a few hogs to slaughter for food for the family table, and Dale was tasked with feeding them, as the two racers got ready to leave for a racing weekend Singleton suddenly stopped. “I gotta feed the pigs!” His friend told him, “well look at you, a pig farmer” and it sort of stuck. Behind the scenes some of his friends would call him a “pig farmer”, and Dale's dad figured why not use this to have some fun, so when Singleton won in '79 he took Elmer to victory lane. And as history goes, Elmer became a hit. He got so much press and attention from the Media, soon promoters were paying Elmer appearance money! Just another spoke in the wheel of Dale Singleton.
1979 saw Singleton finish a close runner up to AMA series points winner Rich Schlachter just 3 points out of the top spot.
1980 saw Singleton racing harder and more places, running second at Daytona, and winning the Pocono National, but only a 4th place AMA points finish due to him racing in Europe but still honing his skills and getting better. The passion still burning deep.
While in Europe, Elmer was a HUGE hit, with promoters begging for Singleton to bring the pig, so many times across Europe Singleton had to spend the day before the race chasing a “new” Elmer to take with him to the races, often times having to outrun a mad Momma pig who wasn't really ready to let “Elmer“ go.
1981 brought another win at Daytona, this time with a much deeper field, including Freddie Spencer, and Kenny Roberts. But the Taylor White and Beaulieu sponsored Yamaha TZ750 was not to be denied as he captured his second 200 win. The factory teams all scratching their heads as the young privateer from Dalton Ga. Put a spanking on them all.
Singleton's passion and desire to do things his way, made him the success he was. He knew his equipment inside and out, each nut and bolt had his fingerprints on it. Each bike was prepped by Dale and using his years of knowledge and experience he put the bike together to do one thing, win. And win he did. 1981 saw him win the AMA National Road Racing Championship.
After the 1982 season Singleton retired from motorcycle racing and set his sights on NASCAR. Having won the Daytona 200 twice, now he set his sights on the Daytona 500, as he began his pursuit of racing on 4 wheels instead of 2.
While Dale Singleton was a huge hit with the fans, and he loved spending time with them every chance he got, signing autographs and posing for pictures with the fans that came to cheer on the privateer who took on the big factory teams. he was still a true family man, spending time with his parents, to whom Dale always gave credit for making him what he was. Dale was a man who loved helping others, with a heart as big as the sky.
His attention to detail was unlike anyone else; he was meticulous in his approach to everything, and as he set his sights on NASCAR he began searching for sponsors and a team to make the jump. Singleton was truly a one-man band, handling all aspects of his career. His sponsor proposals were ahead of his time, he had an understanding that few had in that day. His focus on his task at hand gave him the advantage few had.
He could type, write, think outside the box, in addition to his skills on a motorcycle, making him the real deal. A total package to speak. His drive and focus on the task at hand made him the super star that he was. Right up to the day he left this earth he was constantly striving to be better, to push himself to be the best he could be, all the while still keeping in mind the people who helped him get to where he was. Dale Singleton was a loving man, who made sure the people around him knew how he felt. He strove to be the best he could be, and to capture the moment and take full advantage of it.
Today his office sits much as it was 34 years ago when he passed, his trophies still sit in a place of importance, his leathers still hang just as he left them when he wore them last. His filing cabinet still full of his meticulously organized files, each subject in its proper place, easy to find with just a glance. Dale Singleton's legacy still kept on display but his loving brother, who's eyes still sparkle at the mere mention of his brother, Spencer has worked to make sure his big brother's memories live on, and by showing the world what a hell of a guy his big brother really was.
I doubt the world will ever see another Dale Singleton, “the Flying Pig Farmer” has ridden his last race; he has smiled his last smile and hoisted his last trophy in Victory Lane. Elmer has grown up and gone as well, but the memories live on. The marks he set still stand on so many levels. The achievements of a legend still ring true and stand alone. The little guy from Dalton Georgia, who struck fear into the hearts of the big factory teams, the man who truly did it his way, may be gone, but the marks he made on this world still stand… and stand proudly, as marks that few others will ever achieve.
Dale Singleton's memory lives on serving as a guide post for others who want to take on the world and do things differently. Gone, but never ever forgotten because some of us will never forget the life you lived and the races you won. We will never forget the legacy you left behind. You will always be a legend and myself, your brother and all of Dalton Georgia will never forget you.