In 1939 Dean Layfield began racing with his brothers Gerald and Conrad. Dean was the second of 10 children, started racing cars with no roof, no roll cage and no seat belts at Limestone and Steam Valley. He loved racing and it ran in the family as six of his eight brothers became involved.
While his brothers all had long and successful careers, Dean was the most famous. In his 22 years of racing he won numerous track championships and 50 trophies from races at 57 tracks across the country.
His biggest race came in 1958 when he put a roll cage in his car then drove it to Daytona. Once he arrived, he removed the lights and anumber plates and raced the same car in the last Daytona 500 on the old beach course. Dean finished a respectable 12th in the race won by Lee Petty and proved that despite being from a small rural area, he could compete with the NASCAR big boys and their manufactured automobiles. After the race he put the number plates and lights back on and went home.
He drove car No. 9/16th, picking the number since it was the standard size of most of the bolts on his first car. He raced at almost every track in the area, including Bradford Speedway which he helped the late Ray Schimp lay out across the street from the track’s present location.
In 1957, Layfield finished eighth in a race with Lee Petty and other NASCAR drivers at the Rew Oval. Three years later his life was tragically cut short during a race at Perry Speedway. Dean had entered a “Snap the whip” race at the Wyoming County Intermational Speedway in a borrowed car. He was coming out of the fourth turn passing a lapped car when a stone struck him in the head. The car swerved and went straight over the first turn banking. The car just missed the ticket stand and then drove in a circle a couple of times and coming to rest against some railroad ties with the engine still running. Onlookers thought he was showing off. Sadly he was not. He had received fatal head injuries. He was taken to hospital but passed away on the 25 Aug 1961.
Art Beardsley, the track owner, and Dean were good friends. Art never got over this accident and a few weeks later he sold the track.