Racing Hall of Fame Inductees Announced...
The votes are
in, and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame class of 2008 has been
inductees are former NASCAR vice president of competition Bill
Gazaway, short track racer Jack Jackson, 1965 NASCAR rookie of the
year Sam McQuagg, Peach Bowl champion Charles Padgett, drag racing
pioneer Randy Payne, NASCAR legend Wilbur Rakestraw, car owner Dub
Smith, and track promoter Mike Swims.
inductees were chosen from the initial “Sweet 15” nominees, who had
been whittled down from over 40 nominees that were submitted to the
Hall of Fame voting committee.
Gazaway – Bill Gazaway, of Newnan, Ga., joined NASCAR in 1960 as
a team owner, with his cars making seven starts. Tiny Lund made
four starts for Gazaway, with Joe Caspolich making one start.
Gazaway himself piloted the car in one event, at Atlanta, falling
out after one lap with rear end trouble.
Gazaway is best known for is being the man who controlled NASCAR’s
competition side for almost 20 years. Gazaway first went to work
with NASCAR as a technical inspector in 1963, becoming assistant
technical director in 1967 before becoming technical director for
the tour in 1967. Gazaway became director of racing operations and
competition director in 1979, and then became vice president of
competition in 1984. He would hold that position until his
retirement from NASCAR in 1987.
big contributions to the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame
Association as the person who spearheaded the GARHOFA Georgia State
prestige license plate, the funds from which helps to support the
preservation of automobile racing in the state of Georgia.
served on the Hall of Fame voting committee, which votes to choose
passed away on June 29, 2006.
Jackson - Jack Jackson is a rags to riches story. He was born
and raised in the Techwood area of Atlanta when it was government
housing. He started racing in the early 50s in the jalopy division
at the legendary Peach Bowl Speedway in Atlanta, moving quickly up
to the sportsman division, where he became a multi-year champion.
He raced at Columbus, Lagrange, Canton, and won the first race at
the original Dixie Speedway in Jasper, Georgia. But after about
1963, Jackson raced mostly at the Peach Bowl, and continued racing
there until the track closed after the 1971 season. Jackson was a
long time worker for the city of Atlanta. He’s the founder of the
annual Peach Bowl Speedway reunion. Jackson and fellow Hall of
Famer Jimmy Mosteller were the founders of the Georgia Automobile
Racing Hall of Fame Association.
McQuagg - Columbus, Ga. Native Sam McQuagg got his first taste
of racing in the mid 1950’s, when he decided to participate in a
spectator race at a small local dirt track in his street car. He won
that race, and was hooked.
his construction job and became a racer on the local dirt tracks.
He was a constant winner at Valdosta, and at Auburn-Opelika, Al.
entered his first NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) event at
Valdosta in 1962. In 1965, McQuagg made 14 starts in NASCAR’s top
division, recording two top fives and five top tens en route to
being named the rookie of the year.
leading the Southern 500 that year when he tangled with Cale
Yarborough, sending Yarborough’s car over the fence and outside the
racetrack. Footage of that crash would be shown as part of the
opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports for several years after.
his only Cup event the following year in the Firecracker 400 at
Daytona Beach, Fl., piloting a Ray Nichels owned Dodge that was
equipped with the first spoiler in NASCAR history.
his last NASCAR event at Charlotte in 1974 following a four-year
absence from the sport. Away from the track, he was a commercial
pilot. He retired in 1997.
Padgett - Charlie Padgett came from a racing family. One of
five racing brothers, Padgett, of Jasper, Ga., started his career at
a track in Dalton, Ga., and ran at practically every track in North
Georgia at the time. He was the Southern Racing Enterprises
Modified Champion in 1956, racing at Canton, Dallas, the Peach Bowl,
Banks County Speedway, Gainesville Speedway, and Toccoa Speedway.
Padgett raced quite a bit at the Peach Bowl, but really came into
his own at the legendary Athens Speedway in Athens, Ga., where he
won the July 4 Mid-Season Championship event in 1964 and 1966, and
the Labor Day Championship event in 1964 and 1965. He also competed
at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga.
retired from racing in 1980, and opened the Airport Speedway go cart
track in Jasper in 1981. He and his wife operated the track for the
next 20 years.
Payne - Randy Payne, of Rome Ga., picked up the nickname “Mr.
Big Stuff” after piloting his famed Torino Cobra to many victories
in the late 60s. Payne won many races in his division while racing
his powerful Ford, including the first sanctioned drag race held in
Payne, along with fellow Hall of Famer Hubert Platt and Atlanta’s
“Dyno Don” Nicholson for inventing match drag racing in the south in
the mid-60s. Payne and Platt were teammates, taking on all comers
in their hot rod Fords.
nominated driver of the year by Car Craft magazine four years in a
row, and is also a member of the East Coast Drag Race Times Hall of
Rakestraw - Wilbur Rakestraw, from Dallas, Ga., was another
driver from a family of racers. Rakestraw was a Ford loyalist, and
raced his number 999 (in honor of Henry Ford’s first race car,
piloted by Barney Oldfield) across the south. Rakestraw raced with
the Southern Racing Enterprises organization all over the south.
Rakestraw competed in 30 Cup events between 1956 and 1961, picking
up one top five finish at Columbia, SC., and recording six top ten
finishes. Among those starts were the first three Daytona 500s, in
1959, 1960, and 1961. His best finish in that event was a 22nd
also competed in several NASCAR Convertible series events in 1958
and 1959. In 1958, Rakestraw competed in seven Convertible races,
picking up three top fives and four top tens.
retired from driving after 1961.
- Walter Dewey “Dub” Smith was one of the unsung heroes of racing.
The father in law of Hall of Famer Bruce Brantley, Smith was the
owner of a highway grading company who started putting money into
racecars in the early 1950s. With Atlanta mechanic Harvey Jones
turning the wrenches, Smith’s cars won many races at the Peach Bowl
in the early 1960s with John Sudderth behind the wheel. In the late
1960s, Smith was part of the efforts to revive Lakewood Speedway,
along with Ernie Moore and former Atlanta Mayor William B.
away in the late 1980s.
- Mike Swims of Woodstock, Ga., may have been one of the most
important promoters in dirt track racing. Swims was born into the
sport, working with his family at both the Dixie Speedway in
Woodstock and the Rome Speedway since his teenage years. Swims
served as Vice President and General Manager of both facilities, and
was one of the founders of the Hav-A-Tampa dirt late model series in
1990. Swims was instrumental in lining up national television
coverage of the series, bringing dirt track racing into a national
spotlight. Swims also served as a consultant to the Lucas Oil Late
guidance, both Dixie and Rome Speedways flourished, drawing
competitors from all over the country for their annual “Shootout”
dirt late model events.
Swims died in
September of 2007 following a seven year long battle with cancer.
He is a member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame.
The Hall of
Fame induction ceremony and banquet will be held on October 24 at
the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville.