Dawsonville, Ga. – The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Georgia has moved one step closer to being able to name the 2012 class of inductees this week, when they announced the “Fast 15” semi-finalists. The five new GRHOF inductees will be chosen by a panel of voters to make up this year’s class.
The 2012 semi-finalists include Charles Barrett of Cleveland, GA, Dick Brannon of Dawsonville, GA, Charlie Burkhalter of Athens, GA, Frank Christian of Dahlonega, GA, Tommie Clinard of Macon, GA, Pete Hamilton of Buford, GA, Bill Ingram of Woodstock, GA, Bobby Johns of Miami, FL, Warren Johnson of Sugar Hill, GA, Jabez Jones of Toccoa, GA, Doug Kennimer of Dahlonega, GA, Ethel Flock Mobley of Atlanta, GA, Huston Platt of Buford, GA, Louise Smith of Barnesville, GA, and Herman Wise of Toccoa, GA.
The announcement of the 2012 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame inductees will be made during the Hall of Fame’s 10th anniversary celebration event, scheduled for Saturday, May 26 at the Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, GA. The event begins at 8 am with a swap meet, a car show at 10 am and the opening ceremony, which will include the inductee announcement around 11 am. Also on tap for the event is a driver autograph session with members of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and current drivers. For more info, visit www.georgiaracinghof.com.
The 2012 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Induction banquet will be held on Oct. 26, 2012 at 6 pm at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, located inside the Dawsonville Municipal Complex in Dawsonville, Georgia.
A limited number of seats for the banquet will be available. 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 five inductees into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame for 2012:
Charles Barrett – Cleveland, GA – Winner of approximately 250 feature events – Won 27 Late Model sportsman features in 1972 – Won the 10th anniversary 150 lap Sportsman championship race at Anderson in 1972 – 1968, 69, 70 Anderson track champion- Won several championship events at Anderson between 1967-1972 – Competed in several NASCAR Sprint Cup events for car owner George Elliott, including a 10th at Talladega in 1973, 18th at Atlanta in 1973.
Dick Brannon – 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 – 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.
Frank Christian – Dahlonega, GA – Deceased – Was a pioneer in multi-car ownership, winning 22 races in his career. Drivers included his wife, Hall of Famer Sara Christian, Bob Flock, Speedy Thompson, Buddy Shuman, Banjo Matthews, Fonty Flock, Buck Baker, and Curtis Turner. Christian himself competed in several events as an owner/driver. His cars had an average starting place of sixth and an average finishing place of 12th. Christian’s cars scored 35 poles in a six year span. Christian is credited with bringing the moonshine runners out of the mountains and into the first organized modern stock car race, held at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway in November of 1938. Was the car owner for the first Chevrolet to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, with Fonty Flock as a driver, in 1955 at Columbia, SC.
Tommie 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 Atlanta – Competed against top notch drivers, including Red Famer, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Bobby Johns – Went drag racing in 1964, winning 52 straight events at Camp Wheeler Dragstrip – Back in stock cars, competed many times at Middle Georgia Raceway in Byron, GA, putting in a top ten points finish in 1974.
Pete Hamilton – Newton, MA, relocated to Buford, GA – Won the 1970 Daytona 500 driving for Petty Enterprises, and won both Talladega races that year while driving for Petty. Was the 1965 Thompson World Series Twin 50s champion. Scored the title in the NASCAR National Sportsman division in 1967. Was the 1968 Rookie of the Year in NASCAR Sprint Cup. Won the 1969 NASCAR Grand American division title, winning 12 of 26 races that year. Won a qualifying race (then a points event) at Daytona in 1971 driving for Cotton Owens. Won the 1974 Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. Became a successful car builder in Georgia, operating out of Buford, building cars for several championship winning drivers, including Hall of Famers Charlie Mincey and Ronnie Sanders.
Bill Ingram – Woodstock, GA – Over 285 feature wins – Ran first race in 1967, at the age of 13, at Cherokee Motor Speedway in Canton, GA – Began racing regularly in 1973 – Won Hobby Championships at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock GA in 1978 & 1979 – Moved to Limited Sportsman in 1981, winning several races. Would win championship in 1982 – Won Georgia State Motocross Championship (for motorcycles) at Ballground, GA in 1982 – Won Dixie/Rome Rookie of the Year in Super Late Models, 1983 – Won National Late Model Rookie of the Year from Racing News Weekly, 1983 – Won Points Championship, Dixie Speedway, 1984 – Won Rome Boss 100 Late Model Points Championship at Rome Speedway, 1984 – Won Alabama Enduro Championship at Birmingham Speedway, 1985 – Won Enduro 300 at Dixie Speedway, 1985 – Qualified ninth, finished sixth in ARCA series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1986 – Qualified at over 178 mph in ARCA competition at Talladega, AL, 1986 – Won Georgia State Demolition Derby championship, 1987 – Competed in ARCA competition at Daytona, Atlanta, 1987 – Won 18 Super Late Model features at Dixie and Rome Speedways, including several 100 & 200 lap events – Qualified for first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event driving for Henley Gray at Talladega in 1989 – Won features at North Georgia, Dixie and Rome – Won inaugural Hav-A-Tampa Shootout at Dixie in 1990 – Won Dixie track championship in 1994, with several major wins that year – Passed away on Jan. 10, 1999.
Bobby Johns – Miami, FL, relocated to Atlanta, GA – 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.
Warren Johnson – Buford, GA – NHRA Pro Stock racer, All Time Pro Stock winner, with 97 career wins, 151 career final round appearances. Six time NHRA Pro Stock champion (1992, 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, and 2001). Set a career best speed and time in Gainesville, FL in 2012 (212.46). Was the first Pro Stock driver to surpass 180 mph (Fremont in 1982) and 190 mph (Indianapolis in 1986). Scored five wins in 11 final round appearances in 1991. That same year, raced in Japan, beating American and Japanese Pro Stock races. Became the first Pro Stock driver in history to exceed 200 mph (Richmond, 1997). Became the first driver in NHRA history to make a sub 6.9 second pass (6.894 seconds, Richmond). Won 56 elimination rounds, recorded top speed in 21 of 22 events, both in 1998. No. 1 qualifier at 15 events.
Jabez Jones – Toccoa, GA – Began racing in 1953, career would span some 30 years – Over 350 career wins – Set record at Anderson, SC, 18:60, in 1969, record stood 18 years – Won 17 straight events at Athens Speedway in 1970 – Won 14 straight wins at Anderson Speedway in 1971 – Won Sportsman Award at Anderson Speedway in 1971 – 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 against legendary drivers, such as Bud Lunsford, Charlie Mincey, Katron Sosebee, Tootle Estes, Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer.
Doug Kennimer – Dahlonega, GA – Famed dirt and asphalt driver, competed and beat such drivers as Buck Simmons and Bud Lunsford. Competed in coupes, Super Modifieds and Late Models all over the country, including Cumming Speedway, Atomic, Athens, Toccoa, and Lanier. Member of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. Won the World 100 at Eldora in 1972.
Ethel Flock Mobley – Atlanta, GA – 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.
Huston Platt – Buford, GA – Pilot of the famed Dixie Twister. Was a pioneer Funny Car racer in the mid to late 60’s. Competed in and won events all over the east coast and in the southeast. Would later take his restored Dixie Twister around the country on display and in exhibition runs. Was inducted in 2009 to the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame. Passed away Nov. 30, 2011.
Louise Smith – Barnesville, GA – 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.
Herman Wise – Toccoa, GA – Sprint Car Racer, car builder. Won the 1971 Little 500 in Anderson, IN. Won at Williams Grove and Sealinsgrove. Scored wins all over the southeast, including at the Peach Bowl, Athens Speedway, Jefco Speedway, and Toccoa in Sprints and Super Modifieds. Died in a traffic accident in Habersham County, GA in 2003.
About the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame – The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame is owned by Dawsonville History Museum, INC. The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2002, and became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2010. The museum, recognized by the state legislature as the official home of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, recognizes prominent members of Georgia’s racing heritage. The Hall of Fame also plays host to other events saluting the state’s racing history, including the annual Lakewood Speedway reunion. The Hall of Fame and Museum are housed in the Dawsonville City Municipal Complex just outside of downtown Dawsonville, Georgia on Hwy. 53. The museum is open Monday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Holiday and Summer hours vary. For more information, call (706)216-RACE (7223) or go online to www.georgiaracinghof.com.