Over time things change. People and companies come and go, builders pop up and disappear almost overnight it seems, while others have a staying power like no other. Such is the story of Dirt Works Race Cars.
In the early 80’s when the southwest Missouri area was in need of a new, different, more affordable class, two guys ventured north to see what all the hype was about the IMCA modifieds. And so began the story of Dirt Works. Former racer Gary Bass, and local hero Rex Merritt were those two guys, and brought the idea back south with them. Then in 1984, the first of many Dirt Works chassis hit the track. The original cars, D1 driven by dale Roper, and D2 driven by Merritt hit the tracks running, and the craze grew. These cars offered a new alternative to affordable racing, and something different to look at on the track.
By the late 80’s, the business had grown, the chassis were being finished at their future home in Walker, Mo. by Mike Clark and James Ramsey, and another family business was needing attention from Bass. The offer was made to Clark at the time to purchase the company, but he respectfully declined at the time. So the search was on for a new owner, and in 1989, Kelly Bremer and his family became the new owners of Dirt Works.
Things continued to grow. All of the cars were being built in Walker, and things were really starting to take off and roll. Then in 1991 Clark stepped up to the plate and purchased the company. And from there things really started to soar.
A former racer himself, Mike continued the tradition started by Bass in trying to maintain the affordability of the cars for this class. Mike had started working with Bass not long after the company opened, supplying frames, hubs, and spindles for the cars, as well as running a parts truck to many local tracks though the years. From there it progressed to finishing the cars for Bass, and finally building the chassis for the company.
What started as a small race shop quickly grew into a huge success throughout the mid 90’s through early 2000’s. From the humble beginnings of three employees, to a factory like atmosphere of close to twenty workers, Dirt works had become one of, if not the top chassis in the country. Throughout those years, many top fabricators worked at Dirt Works. Some of which would go on to open their own chassis shops after leaving Dirt Works.
In 1994, a kid that absolutely loved racing came to work at Dirt Works. Jerry Hoffman started small with the company, sweeping floors and cutting tubing, then quickly moved on and became one of those top fabricators. Monday, June 29th. 1999 Mike thought it was time for him & Jerry to part ways, and Hoffman Race Cars was born, soon becoming one of the top builders in the area.
The two companies continued on the next ten years, each building cars for some of the top drivers in the country. Then October 9, 2009 Mike passed away, and the future of Dirt Works was in question. For the next two years Mike’s son worked to try to regain what had once been a top spot among builders. But with the loss of his father had left an emptiness in him toward racing. So Gary stepped away, and the doors were locked on that past.
Many say 2012 is going to be the end of the world, but personally I think the Mayans got tired of counting. As for Dirt Woks however, 2012 marks a time for a new beginning. In August of 2012, and agreement was reached between Gary Clark and that kid that loved racing so much, Jerry Hoffman. An agreement to bring the name Dirt Works back to life, an agreement to carry on the name that meant so much to both of them over the years. That day in August, and agreement was made, and Dirt Works Race Cars is alive and well! Formerly in Walker, Mo, Dirt Works is now housed in the same facility as Jerry’s popular Hoffman Race Cars. Many have asked how this is going to work, many have doubts, but those are the things that fuel and drive Hoffman the most.
Current plans are to build both cars respectfully. Hoffman will continue with the popular H3 design, which by all rights is an up to date DW8, probably the most popular car from the strongest era of Dirt Works. Along side those will be the DW11, and the Genesis cars of recent Dirt Works fame. With two top notch fabricators already on staff in Jimmy Wilkum and Kenny Pike, Jerry has also brought Gary Clark on board to help with the Dirt Works line.
“I’m excited to own the name where I got my start,” says Hoffman. “ the old man (Mike Clark) helped me a lot over the years, as well as countless other racers who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to race.” Jerry also says, “you guys know who you are!” He continues, “ a lot of us chassis guys got our start with the old man, and several other businesses grew from the run we had building 200+ per year back in the day.”
Dirt Works and Hoffman are located at 23788 Jaguar Road in Oronogo, Mo. The original Dirt Works number is still in use, 417-465-2410. The Hoffman number is still the same as well 417-673-7426. “Give us a call for any and all of your racing needs. Parts, cars, tech, on track testing at Springfield Raceway whatever you need,” says Hoffman. ‘”Thank you for all who have made Dirt Works what it was, is, and will continue to be in the future.”