The selection process for the 2015 class of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame is under way, and six racing legends have been added to the group of 50 from which the final five inductees will be chosen later this summer.
Legendary dirt tracker C.L. Pritchett from Cornelia topped the voting, followed by the late driver and car builder Billy Clanton of Riverdale. “Handsome” Stan Massey, the popular dirt tracker from Mableton, also will be added to the ballot along with Mike Love of Maysville, who won 26 track championships in his illustrious career.
Also moving to the second step of the voting process are former drag racer and stock car driver Gordon Brown of Dalton, and the late Harold Fryar of Chattanooga, Tenn. “To be considered for induction into a hall of fame, a candidate first and foremost needs to be famous, and that certainly is the case with these six people,” said Rick Minter, long-time motorsports writer and chairman of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame’s Nominating Committee. “This group was chosen from a list of 17 candidates, all of whom are worthy of induction into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.”
Minter said the 10-member Nominating Committee had some tough choices to make, but he said that’s a good thing. “To still have so many deserving candidates after having inducted 89 members to the Hall since 2002 shows just how strong automobile racing is and has been in the state of Georgia,” he said.
The voting process continues this month as a second voting panel will pick the “Fast 15” semi-finalists. A third panel will choose the five who will be inducted during a ceremony at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.
Here is a brief look at the six new candidates who will join the ballot this year:
C.L. Pritchett – The son of pioneer racer and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member Swayne Pritchett raced from 1967 to 1990 and amassed a win total of between 800 and 1,000 and finished in the top 10 in more than 90 percent of his races, according to racing historians. He also won multiple track championships at multiple tracks and scored major victories on touring circuits including the National Dirt Racing Association, where on August 19, 1978, he won a then-record $10,000 at Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C. Earlier this year he was recognized by the Georgia State Senate, where he was described by State Sen. John Wilkinson as “The Last American Hero.”
Billy Clanton – The late dirt-track racer drove from 1966 until the 1990s and was full-time racer, between racing cars himself and preparing them for others. He worked with Hall of Fame member Roscoe Smith for a time, then ran his own Billy Clanton Race Cars after that. He primarily raced at tracks across Georgia but often traveled to races elsewhere. He was a regular competitor in the World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, often building a new car each year for that prestigious race. His biggest career victory came in a June, 1984, National Dirt Racing Association race at Rome International Speedway, and while he did not keep records of his career wins, they’re estimated to be more than 200. But his greatest legacy is what he did to help others further their racing careers, starting with his own family. His sons Rusty, Joey and Shane all have gone on to find great success in racing as has his son-in-law Rodney Dickson.
Stan Massey – He got his first win at Senoia Raceway on July 14, 1972, and his last came on June 17, 2000 at Seven Flags Speedway in Douglasville. 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 Speedway in Woodstock 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.
Mike Love – During a career that began at Athens Speedway in 1972 and continued until the 1990s, he won more 450 races, 26 track championships and two Winston Racing Series championships. Love was one of the more versatile drivers of his time, a winner both on asphalt and dirt tracks. Before he switched from dirt to asphalt in 1987, he had won 13 track championships, including four at Lanier National Speedway, four at Anderson Motor Speedway, three at Athens Speedway and two at Lavonia Speedway. After moving to asphalt racing, he won six more championships from 1987-89, at Lanier and Anderson. He won titles at Lanier in 1991 and 1992 and at Lavonia in 1991.
Gordon Brown – He competed in drag races and late model sportsman features across the Southeast from the early 1960s to the late 1970s. He started out drag racing at Paradise Drag Strip in Calhoun, Ga., in a 1961 Chevy Impala Super Sport. He soon moved on to dirt track racing, competing and winning at tracks in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. After retiring from driving, Brown became very involved with restoring hot rods and classic cars, and hosts the annual Georgia-Tennessee Racers Reunion at his farm in Dalton.
Harold Fryar – One of three racing brothers, Harold raced all over the Southeast including many tracks in Georgia. He started racing in 1948 at Warner Park in Chattanooga and continued until May of 1971, when he was killed in a racing crash at Gadsden Speedway in Alabama. His brother Freddy Fryar was inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in 2013.
The 44 Racing Legends that will be considered again this year along with these newly selected six are:
Dick Anderson– Chamblee, GA- Founder, owner for 32 years of Carrera Shocks- Builder for shock dyno- produced first over-coil shocks- first to mass produce several types of shocks for drag racing-build first tie-rod end shocks for NASCAR- designed first coil over on the NASCAR shocks- build first all-coil over short track combination- started first Oval Track Trade Show- built and marketed first mass produced coil over’s- won first in his class and second overall in the 1990 Mexican Road Race.
Clyde Bembry– Warner Robbins, Ga.- Raced Late Models and Super Street events at Dublin, Ga., Winter Haven, Fl. Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, Ga., Orlando, Fl, Tampa, Fl, and Crazy 8 Speedway in Warner Robbins, Ga.
Ray (Piggie) Bennet-Arlington, FL-1956 Georgia NASCAR State Champion, and third place in 1957- Completed in Georgia Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Savannah, Waycross, Hazlehurst, and Vidalia. NASCAR Sportsman Champion, Oglethorpe speedway, 1956-57. Quarter Mile Sportsman modified Champion, Jacksonville, FL, 1956-57.Inducted into Jacksonville Raceways Hall of Fame in 1991.
Frank Brantley– Statesboro, GA-Began racing in the Hobby Division at Oglethorpe Speedway in Savannah. GA in 1954. Winner of many races in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, on both dirt and asphalt tracks- Won the 1962 points championship at Jacksonville Speedway Park-Competed in NASCAR Sprint Cup events in the early 60’s, with a best finish of 11th at Savannah Speedway in October 1964- Competed in three NASCAR Grand American Series events, at Daytona, Dover, and Nashville. Won the 1971 Diamond States 250 at Dover Downs International Speedway for the NASCAR Grand American Series-In his career, competed at Savannah, Brunswick, Baxley, Dublin, Swainsboro, Augusta, Warner Robbins, and Valdosta, along with tracks in South Carolina and Florida-Member of the Jacksonville Hall of Fame (1995) and the Oglethorpe Hall of Fame(1996)
Leon Brindle– Chatsworth, GA- Cleveland Speedway and North Georgia Track Champion(A&B Classes)) 1970-1973- Cleveland Speedway champ, 1974- Dominated all surrounding racks of the Georgia area in B Class competition in 1975-Scores several track titles in 1976- won Tennessee State championship in 1977- Cleveland Speedway Most Popular Driver, 1980-1980-1993 North Georgia track champion-2007North Georgia Limited Champion.
Ray Brooks– Jefferson, GA- Won races and titles at short tracks throughout North Georgia between 1975-2005- Second wins at Anderson, Lanier, and Gresham Motorsports Park-Scored titles in 1975, 81, 82,84, 85- was a fierce competitor on dirt and asphalt throughout his career.
Doc Bundy-Gainesville, GA-Two-time winner in 24 Hours of Le Mans (1982, 1984) Worked as a mechanic and technician for Peter Gregg and Al Holbert in the 70s. Began driving for Holbert in 1980. 1992 IMSA Bridgestone Supercar Series champion. Won Historic event at Savannah for Regogo Racing in 2010. Won the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association in Sebring in 2012.
Tommy Clinard-Macon, GA- Had a career that spanned 20 years- Built his first race car at the age of 19- Won his first race on Jan.15, 1957 at the Palm Beach Speedway in Florida-Competed against top notch drivers, including Red Farmer, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Bobby Johns- Went drag racing in 1964, 52 straight events at Camp Wheeler Drags trip-Back in s tock cars, competed many times at Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, GA, putting in a top ten points finish in 1974.
Sam Colvin-Marietta, GA-Attended the first Southern 500 in 1950- Worked on pit crew for GRHOF member Roy Hall in that event- Worked for GRHOF member GoberSosebee, building a 1952 Pontiac into a race car, ran the car on the Southern Racing Enterprise circuit-Ran the 1955 Southern 500 at Darlington, SC- Ran SRE, NASCAR, and USAC stock car events from 1955-1960- Worked on GRHOF member Paul McDuffie’s pit crew when Fireball Roberts drove to victory at Darlington in the 1958 Southern 500.
Pete Craig– Gainesville, GA- Deceased- One of the first Georgians to race on Daytona Beach, racing Indy-style cars. After serving in WW1, Craig began racing in 1921.Competed at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, driving a Flatbed Ford prepared by Bob Reed of Atlanta. Was a constant competitor on the Beach at Daytona. Won at Daytona in a 10-mile event on June 11, 1926, making him the first Georgian to win on the beach. Held the 100-mile record in 1930. Not only served as a racer, but also worked as a reported for the Gainesville Eagle and the Atlanta Constitution. Would also serve as a race official at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta.
Tom Darby-Waleka, GA-Won the first race he competed in, in Flat Rock, MI on June 5, 1965- Won ten figure 8 races at Spartan Speedway in Lancing, MI in one season-Raced consistently at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA, with multiple wins and championship races- Won the first cruiser and chain race held at Dixie- Won 20 out of26 races at Sugar Creek Raceway, ran second in the six he didn’t win- Sugar Creek track champ- Also competed at North Georgia Speedway, finishing second in the track championship. Also competed at Gresham Motorsports Park, Lanier, Whitesburg, Douglasville, as well as several tracks in Florida, Michigan, California, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Jim Downing– Atlanta, GA=Born Jan. 4, 1942, opened Downing/Atlanta race shops shortly after graduating from Georgia Tech. From 1978 to 1993, the Downing/Atlanta team and the engine builder Rick Engman scored more Mazda victories in IMSA than any other team. Scored 40 IMSA victories, and 5 IMSA driving championships (1981 International Sedan, 1982 Camel GTU, 1985, 86, 87 Camel Lights) Two time 24 Hours of Daytona winner(1993-Camel Lights, 2001-Grand-Am SRP), two time Sebring 12 hour winner (1980-Camel GTU, 1992 Camel LIGHTS) 1996 winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans(LMP2). The Downing/Atlanta team designed and built the RX-7 that 23 races andfive GTU championships between 1982 and 1987 for Downing, Jack Baldwin and Tom Kendall. Continues to compete in SCCA. Downing was also instrumental in creation of the HAS device, responsible for saving countless lives in motorsports crashes around the world. Recepientof numerous awards for the HAS device.
Gerald Duke-Moreland, GA- Won the Atlanta Auto Racing, Inc. championship in 1963- won stock car events at Carrolton, Lakewood, the Peach Bowel, Gainesville, Canton, Columbus, Dallas, LaGrange, Rome, and Toccoa. Finished fourth in the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1960.Competed in 17 Sprint Cup events between 1959-1963, including Nashville, Spartanburg, Daytona, Charlotte, Hillsboro, Atlanta, Weaverville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Jacksonville, and North Wilkesboro.
Marion “Bubba” Farr– Augusta, GA-Deceased- Began racing motorcycles at Garden City Speedway in Augusta in 1953- raced on southern flat tracks and on Daytona Beach- Began racing stock cars at Garden City Speedway in 1955- raced at other area tracks, scoring wins- competed in NASCAR’s Modified Sportsman class, scoring wins in Georgia and the Carolinas- Won the 1960 Permatex 250 NASCAR Modified-Sportsman event at Daytona International Speedway-continued racing though the 60s in NASCAR Late model Sportsman events, and a handful on Sprint Cup events.
Harold Fountain– Martinez, GA- 1974 Savanna Speedway Champion, South Carolina State Late Model Stock champ, Myrtle beach Speedway champion- Won Permatex feature race at Savannah, 1974- Finished fourth in National LMS points- Finished ninth in World Service 300 LMS event at Charlotte, 1974-Finished third in South Carolina State LMS, second at Savannah in 1973. Won at Greenville-Pickens in 1971-Track Champion Permatex Race, Savannah Speedway, 1971- Winner, Pinetree Festival , Swainsboro Speedway, 1968-69- Winner Augusta International Speedway, 1961-Numberous career feature wins in the 60s and 70s.
Leroy Hicks– Decatur, GA – Deceased- raced Motorcycles against GRHOF Ted Edwards and Robin Rogers at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta before WW11- raced track roadster for Raymond Parks as a teammate to Red Byron- After the war, raced midget racers at the Peach Bowl Speedway and Lakewood Speedway- Won races all over the east, including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio, and Virginia. Raced stock cars on the Southern Racing Enterprise circuit- was an early member of NASCAR, racing at Daytona Beach, Competed in the first Southern 500 at Darlington,SC in 1950, driving a Plymouth. Died Oct. 20, 1998.
Bobby Johns-Miami, FL- Relocated to Georgia- Long time competitor in north Georgia, winning several races at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA- Raced at short tracks across Georgia and Florida- Won two NASCAR Grand National(now Sprint Cup) races at Atlanta (1960) and Bristol(1962)- Recorded 21 top 5s, 36 top 10s, and two poles between 1956-1969- first NASCAR driver to take the competitive lap at Indianapolis- Piloted Smoky Yunick’s famed Hurst Floor Shift Special in testing and qualifying for the 1964 Indy 500- Twice raced in the Indy 500, finishing 7th in 1965 &10th in 1969.
Gordon Jones – Dalton, GA – Nephew of 2008 Hall of Fame inductee, Charlie Padgett — Began racing in 1957 at Spillway Racetrack in Dalton, GA – Won first race in 1960 at the age of 20 – Finished 10th in his first NASCAR Modified Sportsman event in a 250 lap event – Began driving for George Elliott in 1965, with an Ernie Elliott Engine — Continued with Elliott for 3 additional years – Won 1968 Cherokee Motor Speedway track Championship – Won 1973 Tennessee State Dirt Track Championship – Won at tracks in Chattanooga, Cleveland (TN), Ellijay, Newnan, Lagrange and Alabama — Continued winning in Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Alabama in the 1980s and 1990s —Built his first car in 1966 — Competed up to 2003 in vintage association racing.
Jabez Jones-Toccoa, GA- Began building race cars in1953. Owned cars driven by Sam Sosebee, T.C. Hunt and his son, Jabe Jones, Career spanned some 30 years, with more than 350 career wins. Set a track record at Anderson Speedway in 1969 that stood until the track was paved in 1987, Won 17 straight events at Athens Speedway in 1970, Won 14 straight events at Anderson Speedway in 1971, Won Sportsman Award at Anderson Speedway in 1971. Invited by Roy Shoemaker to race at the Peach Bowl where his tires were provided free of charge, Shoemaker also helped get Jabez’s racing number “08” approved by NASCAR, a first for a zero prefix. Instrumental in the careers of several drivers, including Herman Wise, One of the original organizers of Georgia-Carolina No. 1 Racing Association in 1973, Competed in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida. Competed against legendary drivers, such as Bud Lunsford, Charlie Mincey, C.L. Pritchett, Charles Barrett, Katron Sosebee, Tootle Estes, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Red Farmer.
Tammy Jo Kirk– Dalton GA- Began career racing motorcycles. Raced in the AMA Grand National Championship, becoming the first woman to reach a final in 1983 at the Knoxville Half Mile. Won a class C flat track race at Knoxville, TN. Moved to late Model racing at the behest of GRHOF member Jody Ridley. Competed in the NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro division, winning the series Most Popular Driver award in 1994. Became the second woman to win a NASCAR Touring series event in 1994 by winning the Snowball Derby(then an All Pro Series event) Was the first woman to win the Snowball Derby. Moved to the NASCAR Craftman Truck Series in 1997 with Geoff Bodine Racing. Ran 11th at Heartland Park Topeka. Qualified third at Portland. She continues to work with young female drivers through a program backed by country music legend Loretta Lynn.
Charles ” Red” Langford, Sr.-Started racing in 1969, at Jones County Speedway in the Modified Sportsman division- Competed at Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, GA. From 1969-1976- Competed with the Stars Racing Association- Competed at Crazy 8 Speedway.
Ray Little-Monroe, GA- Well known motorcycle racer- Was a constant competitor around the southeast, competing heavily in Georgia. Won several events around the state and around the southeast.
James Lyle-Maysville, GA- When it comes to meticulous preparation of racing engine, James Lyle has few equals. In a career that started in 1964 and continues today, Lyle’s engines have won more than 2,000 races at all levels of motorsports, including stock car racing, drag racing and tractor pulling. His list of clients includes some of racing’s all-time great drivers, including Bud Lunsford, C.L. Pritchett, Buck Simmons, Russell Nelson and many more. Some of his greatest success came with Bill Elliott and the No. 9 team from Dawsonville. With Lyle preparing the short blocks, the team dominated races in the mid-1980s, with the reliability of Lyle’s short blocks contributing a great part to many of those wins. In addition to his engine work, Lyle is a leader in his hometown and serves with the fire department and in other capacities.
Jimmy Maness-Augusta, GA-Motorcycle racer- Began racing in 1959 in Mobil, AL-Motorcycle Rider of the Year in 1971- Dixie Cycle news called him King of the Southern Dirt Tracks-rode Harleys for Dick Crenshaw from Augusta. Had a national number, one of only 100 numbers awarded to racers in the United States- Would move to stock cars in the early 1980s, became a successful auto racer as well, winning over 300 feature wins and multiple championships- 1990-1995 track champion at Augusta, GA-I-20 Speedway points champion in 1999-2000- 1992 Georgia and Alabama State Champion- 2011 GA Outlaw Champion at Screven Motor Speedway- 2010 Rebel Yell Champion at Screven- Races number 71, the same number he raced on motorcycles.
Ennis L. “Snookey” McDade-Deceased-Milledgeville, GA- Raced between 1963-78- Competed in drag racing, asphalt short track racing, and dirt track racing- Competed at Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, GA, Swainsboro, and Dublin.
Ethel Flock Mobley-Atlanta, GA- Deceased- Sister od GRHOF members, Tim, Bob, and Fonty Flock- First female racecar driver to compete against men in the state of Georgia when she entered a race at Central City Park Speedway in Macon, GA-Was rated as the top woman driver in the southeast United States, having won many competitions in all-women races- Two NASCAR Sprint Car starts- Raced against her brothers Tim, Bob, and Fonty Flock at NASCAR’s second event ever on July 10, 1949 at the Daytona Beach Road Course. It was the first event to feature a brother and a sister, and the only NASCAR event to feature four siblings. Ethel beat Fonty and Bob by finishing 11th, while Tim finished 2nd- In June, 1949, entered a racing competition in Florida, competing against 57 men drivers. She finished in 8th place- Competed in over 100 NASCAR Modified events in her career- Passed away June 26,1984.
Woody Moore-Hawkinsville, GA- Competed in the 1950s and 60s on short tracks around the state of Georgia, including at Palmer Speedway in Warner Robbins, GA, and Talmadge Speedway In McRay , GA. Ran his first race in 1953 at Hawkinsville, GA, and raced for some 15 years in three states, all short tracks.
Ben Muckle-Oglethorpe County, GA- Deceased-Pioneer African-American driver, competing in the 1940s and 50s- Raced cars for pioneer stock car owner Frank Christian-Competed on the Atlanta racing circuit, along with Charlie Scott, Richard “Red” Kines, Arthur Avery and Joe Daniels- Won several events in his career while working on his own race car for the events- Passed away onOct.26, 1958.
Russell Nelson-Buford, GA- Deceased-Began racing in 1960- Winner of 364 feature events- Began racing at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA-Won races at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, GA- Has competed against such drivers as Mark Martin, Harry Gant, and the Allison brothers.
Rance Phillips-Waycross, Ga-Started racing in 1964- Won his second time out-Raced at over 30 different race tracks during his career, in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina- Won 19 championships at 6 different tracks- Was points champion at Volusia County Speedway three straight years-Competed against drivers such as Tiny Lund, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer.
Windell Roach– Lavonia, GA- began racing career in 1954 as a driver and a car builder. Competed in the very first race held at Toccoa Speedway in Toccoa, GA. On May 13, 1955,and would win the third race ran at the track. Raced and won at the Hollywood Speedway, Winder-Barrow Speedway, Banks County Speedway, Lavonia Speedway, Cumming Speedway and Augusta Speedway. Helped GRHOF member Buck Simmons get his start in racing in 1963, and would work building cars and motors for Simmons through 1966. Drivers to compete for Roach includes Steve Chastain, who won three championships in Roach’s cars, Harold Pritchett, Jerry Floyd, Denver Phillips, Kenneth Alewine, and Aaron Gaileyat tracks including Macon, Lavonia and Tocooa. C.L. Pritchett drove for Roach beginning in 1974, scoring championships each year over the next three years, winning races at Gaffney, SC, Lavonia, GA, Augusta, GA, Athens, GA, Westminster, SC and Pensacola, FL. Roach stopped racing in 1977.
Charlie Scott– Atlanta, GA- Deceased-First African- American to compete in a NASCAR Sprint Cup event, racing Feb. 26, 1956 at Daytona Beach in a Carl Kiekhafer Chrysler, as a teammate to Tim Flock, Buck Baker, Frank Mundy, and Speedy Thompson, finishing third among his teammates- First African- American to finish in the top 20 in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Competition, finishing 19th at Daytona beach in that same 1956 event out of a field of 76 starters (qualified 14th)- Won several races in Georgia and around the country in the 1940s, 50s, 60s,- Competed on the Atlanta Racing Circuit, an all African-American racing circuit, along with Ben Muckle, Richard “Red” Kines, Arthur Avery and Joe Daniels- competed in both stock cars and motorcycle events, winning features in both- passed away Nov. 23, 1984.
Dale Singleton– Dalton, GA- Deceased- Independent AMA motorcycle racer who twice beat the factory teams to win the Daytona 200(1979 & 1982). Began riding professionally in 1976. Won his first podium in 1977 at Sonoma, CA. Won his first race in 1978 at Loudon Classic road national. Also competed in several international events. Won at Pocono in 1980. Won the AMA National road Racing Championship in 1981. Began working on a NASCAR career in 1982. Lost his life in a plane crash in 1985.
Bruton Smith– Charlotte, NC- Long time racing promoter and track owner- Purchased Atlanta Motor Speedway in early 1990s- vastly improved the facility, expanding its size and racing speed at the track- Added quarter-mile track as part of the home stretch, giving shorter track racers a home at the facility- Quarter-mile facility became one of the premier Legends and Bandololero facilities in the southeast- Track also hosts Drag Racing on pit road for local racers- Facility brings millions of dollars into the local economy-Brought the traditional Labor Day stock car event back to Georgia I 2009(original event had long been held at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway).
Louise Smith– Barnesville, GA- Deceased- Won 28 modified events- Won 18 races in midgets, late models or sportsman events-Began her racing career in 1949, competing in the NASCAR event on the Daytona Beach course- Competed in the first race to feature three female drivers ( along with Ethel Mobley and GRHOF member Sara Christian)- Competed from 1949-1956- Became a car owner in 1971 for numerous drivers- Sponsored Ronnie Thomas’ NASCAR Rookie of the Year title in 1978-Became the first woman to be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, AL in 1999. Died March 4, 2006.
Sam Sommers– Sylvania, GA-Began racing at Savannah Speedway in 1965- won8 of the first 11 races he entered-Would go on to compete and win many races in the southeast, including Georgia, Florida, and the Carolinas- 1975-76 Savannah track champion and Georgia state champion- Competed in his first Grand National ( Sprint Cup ) event in 1976- Won the Turkey 200 at Jax Speedway, beating out Tiny Lund and Tom Pistone- Won the pole at the Atlanta International Raceway’s 1977 Sprint Cup event while competing for Rookie of the Year honors-retired from racing in 1985.Was inducted into the Jacksonville Raceways Hall of Fame in 1995.
Emory Stone– Pooler, GA- Promoter/Operator of Oglethorpe Speedway for 25 years- Track became the second dirt track in the nation to join the NASCAR Winston Racing Series- ran economy minded divisions for drivers.
Jimmy Thomas– Columbus, GA- Deceased- Successful car, track owner- After serving in the Army, began working as a mechanic, after being discharged in 1946. Began working as a race mechanic in the early 50s- With driver Walt Kruger, won the track championship at Auburn-Opelika Speedway in 1953, winning the most races of the Georgia circuit that year. Thomas was named Georgia Mechanic of the year In 1953-Took over Rocket Speedway in 1954, ran it until 1959- Served as race director for the Valley Stock Car Association in 1955- Owned Columbus Super Speedway- Owned cars for GRHOF member SamMcQuagg. McQuagg won NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors in 1965 driving for Thomas. Won at Charlotte with Lee Roy Yarbrough in 1966. Worked as an inspector for NASCAR beginning in 1967- Owned East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City AL- Ran Senoia, GA for a period of time- Passed away Oct. 19, 1980.
Charles Tidwell– Macon, GA- Deceased-Began racing in 1948- Set a new track record at Central City Speedway in Macon (32.2 seconds ) in June of 1949-Won 34 events in 1950, most of any Georgia driver that year- Set a new track record at Albany, GA(31.2) in 1952- Rated as the Strickly Stock driver of Georgia, and in Southeast- Was among the first totally deaf racer car driver s to compete- Once raced an airplane over an oval track- Raced in the first Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1950. Passes away May 4, 1990.
Donald Tyson– Kennesaw, GA- Began career in drag racing in 1958, competing at Dallas, Calhoun and Yellow River Dragways, scoring several wins- Moved to oval racing, competed from 1967-69 at Cherokee Motor Speedway, Canton Motor Speedway and Mountain Speedway- Began racing at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA in 1969, winning several features- competed at West Atlanta and Rome Speedways- Won Late Model Rookie of the Year at Dixie Speedway- Competed at New Smyrna, Boyds Speedways, Gadsden Raceway, and Lake Hartwell- Competed in the NASCAR All ProCircuit in 1980 and 81, collecting top fives at Gresham Motorsports Park, Middle Georgia Raceway and Montgomery Speedway- Hass worked as a volunteer with the GRHOF, loaning hic car for long term display at the Hall.
Bob Vandergriff, Sr- Marietta, GA-Began drag racing in 1962- Joined the NHRA in 1970 as an ad salesman- Became Advertising and Marketing Director in charge of all publications- Successfully Campaigned super stock race car with Judy Lilly as driverfrom 1974-77- Bought HedmanManufacturing , manufactures of exhaust products, in 1978- Sponsored NHRA, ARCA, World of Outlaws series via contingency programs- Sponsored Don Garlitis, Rusty Wallace, Frankie Kerr, Pisano brothers, IROC and more-Campaigned Top Fuel Dragster with oldest son- Campaigned NASCAR type race truck at Lanier Speedway with his youngest son, winning 2001 title.
Cotton Wallace-Austell, GA- Deceased-Began racing at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, GA in the early 50s- Raced at the Peach Bowl and other tracks throughout the south from 1953-1960- Scored his first win at the old Canton Speedway in 1955-Won Late Model Sportsman event at Daytona International Speedway in 1060. Won qualifying race at Atlanta International Speedway in Late Model Sportsman, passing George Allsonbrook on the last lap in 1963- competed in the Daytona Permatex 250 in 1963- Competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Atlanta international Raceway on April 11, 1965- First driver to win in a Ford at the Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, GA- Passed away Oct. 10, 1984.
Frank Warren– Augusta, GA- Began racing on short tracks around Augusta Ga in the 1950s and 60s while working at the famous Stone Garage. First purse paying race was at Speedway park in Augusta, driving the “Flintstone Special”. Raced at Savannah, Hawkinsville, Columbia, Greenwood, and other tracks. Broke into NASCAR with car owner Harold Rhodes with a 15th place finish I Grand National competition at Daytona. First top tier race came on July 30, 1963 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway with a ninth place finish. Scored an eighth place finish at Darlington in 1967. Finished in the top 10 of the NASCAR Grand National (Sprint Cup) point’s standings in 1970- 1971. Won the 1996 Firecracker 400 qualifying race at Daytona. Competed in numerous NASCAR Grand National East, Grand American, Modified Sportsman and ARCA events. Finished 10th in the 1979 Daytona 500, Ran his final career NASCAR race on Sept. 14, 1980 at Dover. Ranks 52nd in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup all time start list. Helped to start Racing Radios in the mid 1970s
Bobby Eugene Whitmire – Commerce, GA – Competed from 1949 to 1966. Began racing in 1949, at Central City Speedway in Macon. Raced for the Southern Racing Enterprise and Driver Automobile Racing Enterprise. Competed in Amateur, Pro Sportsman, Modified & Super Modified Divisions, racing against drivers including Bud Lunsford, Charles Tidwell, Jim Bradshaw, Joe Riddle, Charlie Mincey, Bill Hemby, James Herrington, Tommie Irvin, Jack Ingram, Jack Ferguson, Chester Barron, Harold Fryar, Buck Simmons, Bill York, Gober Sosebee, Roz Howard and T.C. Hunt Raced at tracks including Gainesville (Looper) Speedway, Canton Speedway, Cordele, Dixie Speedway (Jasper, GA), Toccoa Speedway, Banks County Speedway, Hall County Speedway, Robinwood Speedway (Gastonia, NC), Westminster Speedway, Anderson Speedway, Boyd Speedway, East Park Speedway, Peach Bowl Speedway, Lakewood Speedway, Hollywood Speedway, Drove for Veteran’s Cab Company, Thomas Hanes (Gainesville), Willard Talley, William T. Edge, Hulsey Towing (Gainesville), R.J. Sewell Motors, Toccoa Speedway, Roger Warren, Robert Weatherford, Paul White and himself.
Tickets for the induction banquet will go on sale Aug. 1 and may be purchased online for $40 per person at www.georgiaracinghof.com or ordered by mail at:
Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, P.O. Box 1561
Dawsonville, Ga. 30534