Motor Sports History in the North Georgia Mountains: A Visit to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville wasn’t on my list of places to visit during my Northeast Georgia Hall of Fame, but since the weather wasn’t very good the first couple of days of the trip, I ended up calling an audible and visiting it since it was indoors. Although I haven’t been a NASCAR fan in over a decade and a half, I enjoyed my visit. It’s NASCAR/Stock Car racing-centric but that’s not a surprise given that North Georgia was one of the places that stock car racing has its roots (if you’ve never read Neal Thompson’s Driving With the Devil, I highly recommend it). In addition to the stock cars on exhibit and the many stock car related drivers and personalities in the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, there are also exhibits, drivers, and personalities from other forms of motor sport including motorcycles and drag racing.

When I walked in, I was immediately pleased to see exhibits on the roots of stock car racing and more specifically stock car racing in Georgia. One of the first cars you see inside is a 1940 Ford with sign with information about why the 1940 Ford became the preferred car of Moonshine “trippers” who became early stock racers. Just past the 1940 Ford is Raymond Parks/Red Vogt/Red Byron; I’m not sure if it is a restoration or a re-creation of a Parks car, but I was very pleased to see it. Raymond Parks is one of the key figures in early NASCAR history; the things he did helped lead to how teams are run now and without his support, Bill France may have never gotten NASCAR off of the ground.

The Hall of Fame has a nice collection of historic race cars on display. Most of them are stock cars, including vintage and more recent ones, but there are also some sprint cars, a drag racing car, and a sprint car on exhibit. There’s even one very interesting exhibit based on Ernie Elliott’s engine shop.

As both a motor sports fan and a radio geek, there was one exhibit in particular that really caught my eye: the radio equipment that was in Richard Petty’s car during his crash in the 1988 Daytona 500. If anyone happens to know what the gray control-head looking piece of equipment is on the bottom right is, I’d love to hear from you; it doesn’t quite look the same vintage as the portable radio in the display.

I’m really glad I decided to visit the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame on this trip to North Georgia. It has a lot of nice exhibits and you could spend a lot of time in it reading the exhibits on the Hall of Fame inductees. If you find yourself in or near Dawsonville, make sure you stop in and visit!

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