Dawsonville, GA – The announcement of the newest inductees into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Georgia moved one step closer this week, as the Hall of Fame announced the “Fast 15” semi-finalists for the class of 2014.
The 2014 semi-finalists include Dick Anderson of Chamblee, GA, Leon Archer of Griffin, GA,Dick Brannan of Dawsonville, GA, Charlie Burkhalter of Athens, GA, Julius Hughes of Atlanta, GA, Bobby Johns of Miami, FL, Tammy Jo Kirk of Dalton, GA, Ethel Flock Mobley of Atlanta, GA, Jack Pennington of Winston, GA, Rance Phillips of Waycross, GA, Wendell Roach of Lavonia, GA, Louise Smith of Barnesville, GA, Roscoe Smith of Griffin, GA, Sam Sommers of Sylvania, GA and Jimmy Thomas of Columbus, GA.
The five new GRHOF inductees will be chosen by an 18 member panel of voters to make up this year’s class.
An announcement as to the date and time for the ceremony announcing the five new GRHOF inductees will be released in the next few weeks.
For more information, call the Hall of Fame at (706) 216-RACE (7223) or go online to www.georgiaracinghof.com.
Here’s a closer look at the 15 semi-finlists for the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame for 2014:
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 – built first tie-rod end shocks for NASCAR – designed first coilovers on the rear NASCR shocks – built first all-coilover short track combination – started first OvalTrack Trade Sow – built and marketed first mass produced coilovers – won first in his class and second overall in the 1990 Mexican Road Race.
Leon Archer – Griffin, GA – Born Dec. 27, 1939, where he still lives with his wife Sandra and son Mickey. He ran his first race at Zebulon Speedway in 1967, won for the first time at Newman Speedway in 1968 and before he retired in the mid-1980s won more than 250 feature events in his dirt Late Model cars. He was the first champion of the National Dirt Racing Association in 1979, and his car No. 222 remains one of the iconic car numbers in stock car racing. Archer won races at numerous tracks across America including Senoia Raceway, West Atlanta Raceway, Dixie Speedway, Rome Speedway, East Alabama Motor Speedway, Anderson (SC) Speedway, Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, N.C., Lavonia Speedway, Hartwell Speedway, Thunderbowl Speedway in Valdosta, Swainsboro Raceway, 441 Speedway in Dublin, LaGrange Speedway, Concord Motor Speedway, Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., Atomic Speedway in Knoxville, Newport Speedway, Smoky Mountain Raceway, Hagerstown (MD) Speedway, Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway. He also won numerous poles and set a number of track records over the years. While he got the majority of his victories in cars he owned and prepared himself, he also found victory lane in cars owned by others including Barry Wright, Billy Thomas, Fred Johnson, Darrell Monk and Denny Ross. For nearly all of his career, Archer was a full-time racer, and spent countless hours working on his cars and developing innovative chassis set-ups at a time when there was little technology to be purchased.
Dick Brannan – Dawsonville, GA – Directly involved in the development of the Ford 427 race engines – Received he first of every 427 powered drag race car built by Ford Motor Company – Won more than 200 NHRA, IHRA and AHRA sanctioned drag racing events, including 89 strip elapsed time or speed records – 1965 AHRA Factory Funny Car Champ in Long Beach, CA and Cecil County, Maryland – 1966 AHRA Fuel Funny Car Winter Nationals Champ – 196 NASCAR Grand Finale Drag Champ – Played an important role in development of the 1967 Ford Fairlane 427, including the one Mario Andretti won the Daytona 500 in – Worked with A.J. Foyt, Donnie Allison in developing 1968 Ford Torino – Helped develop Cobra Jet 428 engine – Worked on 429 BOSS Engine – Member of the Super Sock Magazine Hall of Fame, East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, Drag Racers Reunion Hall of Fame- Recipient of the Dearborn Classics Award.
Charlie Burkhalter – Athens, GA – Deceased – Successful competitor in the north Georgia area – raced and won many times at the Athens Speedway, Toccoa, the Peach Bowl, Jefco (Gresham Motorsports Park), Banks County, and other tracks all over the southeast. Championship Super Modified (Skeeter) racer – Won races and titles against Hall of Famers Charlie Mincey, Bud Lunsford, Buck Simmons and others. Passed away in May of 2010.
Julius Hughes – Atlanta, GA – Deceased – Began drag racing in 1955. Joined the Georgia Tech Auto Club in 1956, and, with the help of Hoyt Grimes, built a gas dragster, and competed at Ted Edwards’ Drag Strip thorough the 50s. Raced at the 1955 National Championship Drag Races in Kansas City, MO, winning in his class in a ’32 Ford Roadster, which was later featured in a Hot Rod Magazine article entitled “The Georgia Foursome.” Scored wins in the 1955 Winter National at Daytona Beach and the 1956 Oklahoma City Nationals. From 1955 to 1964, he directed racing events at Ted Edwards’ Dragstrip in Fairburn, GA. Opened the Atlanta Speed Shop in 1960, the first speed shop in Georgia. Won the D/Gas Class at the 1959 Nationals at Detroit driving his famed “Zot” 1955 Chevy. Won AA/Altered class at the 1964 US Nationals driving “Zot II”. Set a National record with a 9.55 ET at 162 mph. In 1964, he began management of the Newton County Drag Strip in Covington. The name was changed to the Atlanta Speed Shop Dragway and became the first NHRA sanctioned drag strip in Georgia. Held the annual “Atlanta $10,000 Drag Race” for the first time in 1964, and continued until 1972. Won the 1965 NHRA Division 2 Top Fuel championship driving the nitro-powered “Zot III”. His last drag race as a driver was in the 1971 Winternationals. During the 70s, he and his son, Julius III, began racing drag boats, campaigning in the “Zot Squirt”. In 1986, Julius, who had been diagnosed with diabetes and had been on insulin since he was 16, had a kidney transplant, which ended his driving career. He would continue as a member of the racing industry. He would become an ARCA and NASCAR car owner, with such drivers as David Sosebee, Rob Mororso, and Jimmy Hensley. In 1989, he was inducted into the NHRA Division 2 Hall of Fame. He would continue to operate the Atlanta Speed Shop until his death on February 15, 1992. He was posthumously inducted into the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame in 2003.
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, two poles between 956-1969 – First NASCAR driver to take a competitive lap at Indianapolis – Piloted Smokey 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.
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 Georgia Racing Hall of Famer 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 at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. Moved to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 1997 with Geoff Bodine Racing. Ran 11th at Heartland Park Topeka. Qualified third at Portland.
Ethel Flock Mobley – Atlanta, GA – Deceased – Sister of 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, Georgia – Was rated as the top woman driver in the southeastern United States, having won many competitions in all-women races – Two NASCAR Sprint Cup 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 eleventh, while Tim finished second – 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.
Jack Pennington – Winston, GA – Began racing in 1974, competing and scoring wins at Oglethorpe, Myrtle Beach, Gordon Park and other dirt speedways – Won 1979 track championship at Myrtle Beach, winning 12 poles in 13 races during the year – Ran the NDRA series in 1980, winning six times. Won 39 races on the circuit in 1985 – Moved to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 1990, was runner up for the Rookie of the Year – Led six laps in that year’s Daytona 500 – Returned to dirt, winning the 1992 Stick Elliott Memorial at Cherokee Speedway and the National 100 at East Alabama Motor Speedway – Inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2006.
Rance Phillips – Waycross, GA – Deceased – 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 six different tracks – Was points champion at Volusia County Speedway three straight years – Competed against drivers such as Tiny Lund, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer. Passed away Dec. 4, 2012
Wendell Roach – Lavonia, GA – Deceased – Began racing career in 1954 as a driver and a car builder. Competed in the very first race held at the Toccoa Speedway in Toccoa, GA on May 13, 1955, and would win the third race run at the track. Raced and won at the Hollywood Speedway, Winder-Barrow Speedway, Banks County Speedway, Lavonia Speedway, Cumming Speedway and Augusta Speedway. Helped Georgia Racing Hall of Famer 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 Gailey at tracks including Macon, Lavonia and Toccoa. 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. Passed away May 15, 2014.
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 Flock 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.
Roscoe Smith – Griffin, GA – Born Dec. 13, 1939. Began racing drag cars and go-carts in 1956. Ran several drag cars, including a front engine Hoyt Grimes dragster, a self built 1965 Mustang A/FX, a front runner to Funny Car and Cheating 4bb1 Class, etc, partially funded by the Ford Motor Company. Won Top Eliminator at an NHRA Meet in Phenix City, AL in 1965. Ran two drag racing match races against Richard Petty in 1965. Moved to oval track racing in 1969, winning countless races across Georgia, along with racing in Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Won Florida State Championship in 1977. Ran in the World 100 at Eldora Speedway in 1976 and 1977. Won several events over the years, including the Pepsi 100 at West Atlanta Raceway and a 100 lap feature at Middle Georgia Raceway. Competed in the next to last race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, GA. Opened his racing business and sold racing parts and built cars for 25 years. Bought Ernie Elliott’s Standard Speed Supply Company and Bud Lunsford’s Southern Auto Parts Company. Built cars for some of the top racers in the country. Worked with Robert Smalley in organizing the NDRA. Sold his racing business in 1988.
Sam Sommers – Sylvania, GA – Began racing at Savannah Speedway in 1965 – Won eight of the first 11 races he entered – Would go on to competed and win man 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.
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 racing mechanic in the early 50s. – With driver Walt Kruger, won the track championship at Auburn-Opelika Speedway in 1953, winning the most races on 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 hte Valley Stock Car Association in 1955. – Owned Columbus Superspeedway – Owned cars for GRHOF member Sam McQuagg. McQuagg won NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors in 1965 driving for Thomas. – Won at Charlotte with LeeRoy Yarbrough in 1966. – Worked as an inspector for NASCAR beginning in 1967. – Owned East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL – Ran Senoia Raceway in Senoia, GA for a period of time – Passed away Oct. 19, 1980.