Five legendary racers are set to be inducted as members of the 2019 Class of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, GA on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 1:00 p.m.
Five legendary racers are set to be inducted as members of the 2018 Class of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Dawsonville on Aug. 11.
The five are Charlie Hughes, Dan Elliott, Dick Anderson, the late Rance Phillips and the late Russell Nelson.
From his first race at North Georgia Speedway in 1966 to his final, also at North Georgia in 1997 when he won the track championship in his final year, Hughes built a reputation as one of the nation’s top dirt Late Model drivers.
He was born in 1941 in Cleveland, Tenn., but moved to Dalton at the age of four. He was part of a group of Georgia racers, many of whom are already Hall of Fame members, who dominated dirt Late Model racing in the 1970s.
In 1976, Hughes had one of the best seasons ever in dirt Late Model racing.
Driving his familiar gold, blue and white No. 39, Hughes won 42 races that year including three of America’s most prestigious races.
That fall, he won the U.S. Dirt Track Championship at Champaign, Ill., the sixth annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway and the second annual National 100 at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City.
His wins were noteworthy for several reasons, among them the fact that a racer from the South handily defeated many of the nation’s top dirt drivers.
Other major races Hughes won in 1976 included the Labor Day 100 and the Wynn’s Friction Proofing 300 at Atomic Speedway in Tennessee, the Mod LM 76 at Cleveland Tenn., the Memorial Day Jaycees Classic at Phenix City, the Boyd’s Spirit of 76 Classic at Cleveland, and four other races at East Alabama – the Firecracker 76, Bicentennial 76, Labor Day 76 and Danny Burdette Memorial 60.
Hughes spent much of his career campaigning Fords. His first race car was a Ford that he built in conjunction with fellow Dalton resident Biddle Ridley. The two shared that ride for a time before Hughes bought a car from Leon Brindle and set out on his own.
In addition to the races he won in the Midwest, Hughes won at tracks in nearly every state in the Southeast.
He has a documented 37 wins at Dixie Speedway and 14 more at Rome Speedway, many of them in major events.
Other major triumphs include a 100-lapper at Senoia Raceway in 1975, The Hall of Fame 150 at Atomic in 1977, the Southeastern Dirt Classic at Dixie Speedway in 1978, The Labor Day 100 and the Fall 100 at Dixie in 1979, a 75-lapper at Rome in 1980, the Miller Road to Charlotte 40 at Dixie in 1985, the Rome Boss 100 at Rome Speedway in 1985 and the Coca-Cola 100 at Dixie that same year.
He won the Budweiser Late Model 50 at North Georgia in 1990, the RC Cola 60 at Tazewell, Tenn., in 1993 and a Super Late Model special at North Georgia in 1996.
Hughes, whose sons DeWayne and Terry followed him into the sport, was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2005.
The brothers grew up around the short tracks – and NASCAR speedways – of the South following their dad George, who owned Ford race cars and sold racing parts at the local tracks.
In the mid-1970s, the Elliott family began competing on the circuit now known as Monster Energy Cup with Bill, the youngest, doing the driving, while Dan and Ernie helped prepare the cars and worked on pit road, with Dan working on engines as well as handling transmissions and rear ends, plus changing tires during races.
In the beginning, the raced out of an old schoolhouse between Dawsonville and Dahlonega and began their career with a well-worn Ford Thunderbird. Later, the Elliotts purchased a Mercury and assorted parts from Roger Penske and their performance dramatically improved.
By the 1980s, they were the dominant team on the superspeedways and won the first Winston Million, the 1988 championship and set numerous speed records along the way.
Bill Elliott once said his family’s race team’s rise to the top of the sport was nothing short of a miracle.
“It was like Wilbur and Orville Wright taking what they had and flying to the moon,” he said.
Dan Elliott, who gave up his own driving ambitions – he did win a consolation race at Dixie Speedway before he stopped – suffered two serious injuries on pit road as a result of being struck by other drivers and retired from over-the-wall work in 1991.
In 2008, he was named general manager of Gresham Motorsports Park, a track in which his father was once part of the ownership team, and held that position until 2013.
He was a dominating force everywhere he went. In 1964, after his second time behind the wheel, he came away with a win that ignited a spark in his blood for the sport.
Thanks to a boss who didn’t mind his regular absences from work as long as his assignments were completed, Phillips raced many weeks from Wednesday or Thursday to Sunday, sometimes racing a different track each night. He collected many wins in his time and broke track records with gusto.
With more than 700 feature wins throughout his 40-year career and 19 track championships in multiple tracks, Phillips was the man to beat. When Julian Klein with Jacksonville Speedway issued a $100 weekly bounty to the driver who could beat Phillips, national attention was drawn to the driver. Racing the rest of the season, still undefeated, Phillips cashed in on his own bounty, $1,000, and even had other tracks issue bounties on him that year as well. The headliner had incredible credentials and the fan-backing to bring spectators to the tracks.
Phillips raced many races sanctioned by Permatex-NASCAR, winning the hearts of many, and was voted Most Popular Driver in 1973 at Golden Isle Speedway in Brunswick, GA.
He regularly raced and won against drivers who would race their way into NASCAR such as Tiny Lund, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer.
Phillips was inducted into the Jacksonville Racing Hall of Fame in 2009 and the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in Florence, KY in 2011. He also served as the Grand Marshal for “The Battle of the Swamp” at Waycross Motor Speedway in 2010. Phillips passed away at his home December 4th, 2012.
Among his innovations were coil-over shocks, shock dynamometers and several other shocks especially built for drag racing.
Anderson led the way in the mass production of racing shocks.
He also was the first to mass produce sprint cars. That came at a time when competitors’ only other choice was to build their own from scratch.
Anderson pioneered roll-couple theory and calculation, and even offered a dedicated “Electronic Calculator” that was programmed to allow racers to find what they needed from a handling standpoint and to understand why.
Among his more recent inventions is a computer-controlled shock that uses an electromagnet that offers nearly infinite & instant damping adjustability. It is largely used in military applications.
Anderson was a pioneer in racing trade shows, promoting the first Oval Track Trade Show in Daytona Beach in 1978 and founded the trade magazine “Oval Track Dealer News” for the oval-track-racing industry in 1979.
He also tried his hand at driving and won first place in his class and second overall in the 1990 Mexican Road Race.
Nelson, of Buford, started racing in 1960 at the Peach Bowl Speedway in Atlanta and is credited with 364 feature wins at tracks including the Peach Bowl, Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, the track now known as Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson and nearly every other short track in North Georgia.
Nelson also found success on the various touring series around the South.
He won the prestigious Rattler at South Alabama Speedway in 1977, and won feature events at other regional tracks including Birmingham International Raceway and Montgomery Motor Speedway.
He was a regular competitor on the old All-Pro Series and throughout his career raced and won against many of the nation’s top asphalt short track drivers.
For more information on the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and the Induction Ceremony visit www.georgiaracinghof.com or call 706.216-7223.
The Fast 15 semi-finalists in the voting for the 2018 Class of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame include a driver who dominated dirt racing nationwide in 1976, all four women on the ballot, a motorcycle racing champion and two members of the famed Elliott Racing team from Dawsonville.
Dalton’s Charlie Hughes, who won the World 100 at Eldora Speedway and 42 other major races in 1976, his best season in a career that saw him win hundreds of feature events, led the voting by being named on 25 of the 29 ballots cast.
Finishing second was Dick Anderson, an industry leader in the development of racing shocks and related equipment who was named on 22 ballots.
Third place went to Tammy Jo Kirk, who started as a motorcycle racer and moved to stock car racing, where she won asphalt short track racing’s premier event, the Snowball Derby at Five Flag Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. She also made 47 starts in the NASCAR circuits now known as Xfinity and Camping World Truck series. She received 19 votes.
Other women making the Fast 15 were asphalt short track racer Debbie Lunsford Love and two racing pioneers, Ethel Flock Mobley and Louise Smith.
Dan Elliott, the middle of the three racing Elliott Brothers and the former promoter of Gresham Motorsports Park, tied for fourth place with the late Bob Morris, a former Peach Bowl driver who was a standout on Atlanta area short tracks including Senoia Raceway and Coweta Raceway. Morris and Elliott received 17 votes each.
Elliott crewmember Mike Rich, who died in a pit road accident at Atlanta Motor Speedway, is among the Fast 15. Rich’s tragic death led to major safety changes on pit road, including speed limits and mandatory safety equipment.
Others among the 49 eligible nominees who made the cut were dirt racer Rance Phillips and asphalt drivers Harold Fountain and Russell Nelson as well as long-time car builder and owner Windell Roach.
Also advancing to the final voting round were engine builder and drag racing fixture Lamar Walden and the late Dale Singleton, the Flying Pig Farmer from Dalton who won the Daytona 200 twice as an independent rider.
Motorsports writer Rick Minter, who chairs the nominating committee of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, said he considers the 2018 Fast 15 to be one of the most diverse selections in recent memory.
“All four women on the list of nominees made the Fast 15, which is extraordinary,” Minter said. “And the group includes legendary dirt and asphalt drivers, two nationally-known motorcycle racers, a pit crew member and others who earned their places in racing history mostly behind the scenes.”
The voting now moves to a 21-member panel, separate from the Fast 15 panel, which will select the final five who will be inducted in an Aug. 11 ceremony at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville.
Gordon Pirkle’s famous siren, sounded for years every time Dawsonville residents like Bill and Chase Elliott scored victories in automobile races across America, wailed long and loud Wednesday afternoon for another Dawsonville native who had just received one of racing’s greatest honors.
The late Raymond Parks was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.
“I just about burned that thing up,” said Pirkle of his siren known across America as one of the more unique ways of celebrating racing triumphs.
Wednesday’s news was a long time coming for Pirkle and other friends of Parks, who died in 2000 at the age of 96.
Parks, who was born in Dawson County in 1914 and got his start in business selling moonshine, was the leading car owner in the early days of stock car racing. He hired one the best mechanics of his time, Red Vogt, and employed that era’s top drivers, a roster that included Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Red Byron, Bob Flock, Fonty Flock, Curtis Turner and Bill France Sr. among others.
His cars were both fast and immaculately prepared. Parks himself presented a classy image as well, always dressed in a wood suit, tie and fedora hat. There are photos of Parks from the inaugural Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, which show him changing tires on one of his cars, still wearing his white shirt and tie.
Parks, with Hall and Seay driving, won races at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway and at tracks across America from 1938 to 1941.
Seay was the national car champion in 1938, with Hall taking the title 1939, using a set of rules agreed upon by the various groups and clubs of the sport at that time.
When World War II began, racing was halted for the duration of the war. Parks served in the U.S. Army and was in one of the toughest battles of the war, the Battle of the Bulge. After repelling the Germans in that cold, December battle, he and his fellow soldiers fought their way across Germany until the end of the war.
Upon returning home, Parks resumed racing, and winning. He usually fielded three cars per race and in a rare instance, drove the third entry himself.
It happened in 1947 at the legendary Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania.
Parks, who had honed his driving skills hauling moonshine in his early days, started the car in case his drivers Byron or Bob Flock, had trouble during the race.
Parks often recalled being unable to sleep the night before, but his worries were unfounded. He had his car in third place, behind Byron and Flock, when Byron experienced engine trouble. Parks dropped out of the race turned his car over to Byron. Despite mid-race mechanical troubles with both cars, Flock and Byron still finished the race in first and second place.
With Red Byron doing the driving, Parks won the inaugural NASCAR Modified Championship in 1948 and followed that the next year by winning the first championship of the Strictly Stock division, which is now known as Sprint Cup.
Parks raced on into the mid-1950s but eventually scaled back his racing ventures to focus on his businesses.
“I had to start making a living,” he often said in explaining why he left racing.
Although Parks continued to follow the sport, and attend the Daytona 500 each year, he soon faded from the memory of many racing folk as NASCAR continued to grow.
Like many members of the Greatest Generation, he wasn’t one to brag on himself.
“Raymond was such a first-class person,” Pirkle said. “People just didn’t know what all he had done, and he never was one to toot his own horn.”
Eventually others began to spread the word about him, and the honors began to flow his way.
Modern-era drivers also began to take note, and many of them, including Bill Elliott, Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, became friends with him. Parks was sitting in Earnhardt’s box at Daytona in 2001 when Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500.
In 1995, Parks was inducted into the Stock Car Hall of Fame in Darlington.
When the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame opened, he was in the inaugural class of 2002. In 2009, he was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, and when the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened eight years ago, Parks’ name was among the original nominees.
Now, he’s achieved his highest honor.
“I’ve always said I was shocked that he wasn’t in the first class, with Bill France Sr.,” Gordon Pirkle said. “But I’m so glad he finally made it.”
Five Legends Unveiled as 2017 NASCAR Hall Of Fame Class
Childress, Hendrick, Martin, Parks and Parsons Comprise Hall’s Eighth Class
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 25, 2016) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017. The five-person group – the eighth since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons. In addition, NASCAR announced that Martinsville Speedway founder H. Clay Earles won the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2017 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton announced the class and Landmark Award winner, respectively, this evening in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “Great Hall.”
The Class of 2017 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, retired competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the third year, the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (Kyle Busch). In all, 54 votes were cast, with four additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd, Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson and Ken Squier). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.
Voting was as follows: Benny Parsons (85%), Rick Hendrick (62%), Mark Martin (57%), Raymond Parks (53%) and Richard Childress (43%).
The next top vote-getters were Robert Yates, Red Byron and Alan Kulwicki.
Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Buddy Baker, Alan Kulwicki, Mark Martin, Benny Parsons and Larry Phillips.
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Ron Hornaday Jr., Harry Hyde, Alan Kulwicki, Hershel McGriff, Larry Phillips, Jack Roush, Ricky Rudd, Ken Squier, Mike Stefanik, Waddell Wilson and Robert Yates.
Nominees for the Landmark Award included Earles, Janet Guthrie, Raymond Parks, Ralph Seagraves and Ken Squier.
Class of 2017 Inductees:
Long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, Richard Childress was a race car driver with limited means. Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975. Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. He owned the cars that NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt drove to six championships and 67 wins between 1984-2000. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. Childress was the first NASCAR owner to win owner championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series, and his 11 owner titles are second all time. Childress also owned the vehicles driven by NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champions Clint Bowyer (2008) and Austin Dillon (2013), as the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver champion Austin Dillon.
The founder and owner of Hendrick Motorsports, Rick Hendrick’s organization is recognized as one of NASCAR’s most successful. Hendrick Motorsports owns an all-time record 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner championship titles – six with Jimmie Johnson, four with Jeff Gordon and one with NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte. Hendrick also has 14 total NASCAR national series owner championships, most in NASCAR history. Gordon and Labonte combined to win four consecutive titles from 1995-98. In 2010, Johnson won a record-extending fifth consecutive championship. Hendrick also owned the car driven by 2003 NASCAR XFINITY Series driver champion Brian Vickers. Hendrick’s 242 owner wins in the premier series rank second all-time.
He is often described as the “greatest driver to never to win a championship,” but Mark Martin’s legendary career is so much more than that. He came incredibly close to that elusive title many times – finishing second in the championship standings five times. Over the course of his 31-year premier series career, Martin compiled 40 wins (17th all time) and 56 poles (seventh all time). Martin saw success at every level of NASCAR. He won 49 times in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, holding the series wins record for 14 years. He retired with 96 wins across NASCAR’s three national series, seventh on the all-time list. In 1998, Martin was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
Raymond Parks is one of stock-car racing’s earliest – and most successful – team owners. Funded by successful business and real estate ventures in Atlanta, Parks began his career as a stock-car owner in 1938 with drivers Lloyd Seay and Roy Hall. His pairing with another Atlantan, mechanic Red Vogt, produced equipment good enough to dominate the sport in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Red Byron won the first NASCAR title (modified, 1948) and first premier series title (1949) in a Parks-owned car. Parks’ team produced two premier series wins, two poles, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 18 events.
Benny Parsons won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship and could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times – a 54 percent ratio. One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007, at the age of 65.
Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:
H. Clay Earles
One of the original pioneers of stock car auto racing, H. Clay Earles played an integral role in the early years of NASCAR’s development. Earles built and opened Martinsville Speedway in 1947, and the short track remains the only facility to host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races every year since the series’ inception in 1949. The speedway held its first race on Sept. 7, 1947 – three months before the creation of NASCAR. That initial race drew more than 6,000 fans to the track, which had just 750 seats ready. In 1964, Earles decided it was time for a “different” type of trophy for his race winners. He gave winners grandfather clocks, a tradition that continues today.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™, NASCAR XFINITY Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series, one local grassroots series and three international series. The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit http://www.NASCAR.com and http://www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About the NASCAR Hall of Fame
Conveniently located in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR. The high-tech venue, designed to educate and entertain race fans and non-fans alike, opened May 11, 2010, and includes artifacts, hands-on exhibits, a 278-person state-of-the-art theater, Hall of Honor, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, NASCAR Hall of Fame Gear Shop and NASCAR Productions-operated broadcast studio. The venue is open 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. seven days a week and has an attached parking garage on Brevard Street. The five-acre site also includes a privately developed 19-story office tower and 102,000-square-foot expansion to the Charlotte Convention Center, highlighted by a 40,000-square-foot ballroom. The NASCAR Hall of Fame is owned by the City of Charlotte, licensed by NASCAR and operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Learn more at nascarhall.com