On many a Friday or Saturday night back in the 1970s and ‘80s, Ricky Williams of Fayetteville and Stan Massey of Mableton went door-to-door racing for checkered flags on the dirt tracks in Atlanta suburbs like Douglasville, Senoia and Woodstock.
Now the two again will be sharing center stage as members of the 2016 Class of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
|Ricky Williams||Stan Massey||Dick Brannan||Sam Sommers||Jimmy Thomas|
Joining Williams and Massey are drag racing legend Dick Brannan of Dawsonville, longtime short track and NASCAR driver Sam Sommers of Sylvania and the late Jimmy Thomas of Columbus, who was a car owner, car builder, crew chief and founder and operator of East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City.
The five were selected by a 21-member voting panel that made the selection from the Fast 15 semi-finalist list.
Williams led the voting with 12 votes, followed by Sommers with 11, Brannan and Thomas with 10 each and Massey with nine.
Just missing the cut were Fast 15 members Mike Love and Jabez Jones, who had eight votes each.
The five inductees will be formally recognized during the 49th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville on Oct. 21 – 23, then inducted during a ceremony on Nov. 12 at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville.
Gordon Pirkle, the founder of the Hall of Fame, said he continues to be amazed at the impressive credentials of the inductees.
“Of course, I think any member of the Fast 15 is deserving of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, and I think this class is just outstanding,” Pirkle said.
Williams, who was voted into the Hall on his first time on the ballot, began racing in 1976 and is now in his 41st year behind the wheel of a dirt-track car.
He has racked up 11 track championships and more than 350 feature victories at tracks across Georgia and Alabama, but was at his best at the old West Atlanta/Seven Flags Speedway in Douglasville. He also won two track championships and numerous feature wins at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock and Rome Speedway in Rome as well as at Senoia Raceway and other tracks across the Southeast.
Throughout his racing career, he’s worked full-time in a body shop, and now is helping his grandson Bailey Williams launch his racing career.
Brannan, who won more than 200 NHRA, IHRA and AHRA sanctioned drag racing events, was directly involved in the development of the Ford 427-cubic-inch race engines, as well as the 428s and 429s.
He already is a member of the Super Stock Magazine Hall of Fame, East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, Drag Racers Reunion Hall of Fame, and a recipient of the Dearborn Classic Award.
Sommers won races and championships all over the Southeast and also had a brief career in the series now known as Sprint Cup. He ran 30 Cup races from 1976 through 1978 with two top-five and nine top-10 finishes plus a pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1977.
He retired from racing in 1986 and was inducted Jacksonville Raceways Hall of Fame in 1995.
Thomas was involved in all aspects of the sport, and even helped start a racing publication.
He was crew chief of the car that Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member the late Sam McQuagg drove to NASCAR rookie of the year honors in 1965, and won the National 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1966 with Lee Roy Yarbrough driving a Dodge he prepared.
Thomas owned as operated several tracks including Rocket Speedway, Columbus Super Speedway and East Alabama Motor Speedway, which his family continues to operate. He died on Oct. 19, 1980.
Massey, known to many a fan as “Handsome Stan” got his first win at Senoia Raceway July 14, 1972, and his last win came on June 17, 2000, at Seven Flags Speedway. He ended his career with 188 confirmed wins and countless others that, like many a racer of his era, were never documented by him or his supporters. He won four Late Model championships at Dixie Speedway, and won some of the biggest events in dirt-track racing.
His biggest career victories came at Dixie against the best dirt racers in America. Running against the cream of the crop in the 1981 Dixie Nationals sanctioned by the National Dirt Racing Association, Massey prevailed to win a then-record $17,000. And to prove it was no fluke he came back the next year and won the 1983 NDRA Nationals at Dixie. He drove for many of the top car owners of his time including his father Ed Massey, Jack Diemer, J.R. Foster and Ronnie Dobbins, who has ties to two members of the 2016 Class as he has been a long-time car owner for Ricky Williams.