James "Hammer" Mason *

Inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in 1986


(1927 – 2005)

James “Hammer” Mason started as a mechanic working on stock cars after World War II. In the 1950’s he owned cars, which won championships at Mt. Clemens, Flat Rock, and Toledo Speedway. His car also won the Michigan Tri State Championship. One of his cars driven by George Cooper won at Heidelberg, PA when the track was dirt. Dick Mitchell and George Cooper drove his cars in the Michigan Ohio area. Hammer gave Joe Ruttman his first ride in this area. His cars won races at the Michigan State Fairgrounds one-mile track. In one race, Cooper, Mitchell, and Ruttman qualified 1st, 2nd and 3rd and finished in that order driving Hammer’s cars.

1964 was Hammer’s first year in the Sportsman Division at Daytona. Johnny Allen drove his car, but crashed while running up front. For years Hammer held the record for best finishes in the Sportsman Division and could still hold this record. His drivers and finishes at Daytona are as follows:

  • 1956 Tiny Lund finished 2nd (this car was sponsored by Miller Beer after some legal hassle it became the first car at Daytona sponsored by a Beer company)
  • 1966 Curtis Turner finished 1st (this is the last car Curtis Turner won a major race with)
  • 1967 Curtis Turner finished 3rd
  • 1968 Bobby Allison finished 3rd
  • 1970 Donnie Allison finished 3rd (Hammer still has this car exactly as it came back from Daytona, engine in it and all)
  • 1969 Donnie Allison finished 3rd
  • In 1966 and 1967 this car won the Best Looking Car Award
  • In 1971 and 1972 the following drivers drove Hammer’s cars in Grand National Races:
    • Cale Yarborough (drove his first race back in NASCAR after running USAC Indy cars)
    • Jackie Oliver (this was his first race in a Grand National stock car), LeeRoy Yarbrough, Dave Marcus

    Hammer also invented the Plemium Air Cleaner and he worked with Pop Sullivan on the first oil cooler for stock cars.