By Mike Bell
Posted in Feature Stories 1/8/10
Atlanta had three national stock car champions in the late 1940s, and these were considered to be the grassroots pioneers around the south.
When Red Byron won the first NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Nextel Cup) title in 1949, Georgia’s Pete Craig had been retired for over a decade. Craig started racing Indy-type cars in 1922.
The aforementioned “pioneers” were just kids when, in 1930, Craig, a native of Gainesville, Georgia, held the 100-mile racing record at Daytona when they were barrel tracking at the Beach.
This was still six years before the stocks started their 22-year rein at the old beach/road course that driver Bill France Sr., and later Bill France Sr. aka NASCAR, promoted.
If you were lucky enough to get a copy of a magazine/yearbook/program called “Who’s Who in Automobile Racing – The Blue Book of Speed”, you will find on page 25 a mention of a young Georgia driver named Pete Craig. You’ve never heard of him? First, you have to realize the publication was printed in 1937. Second, there just weren’t that many drivers from the South. There was Paul Bost from North Carolina, and the Callaway brothers originally from Macon, but who soon moved to Miami.
In doing research on racing at Lakewood, Weyman and Bill Milam of Atlanta dated back to building and racing Indy-type cars in the thirties. As for Craig, I already knew of him but had no idea where to start looking for any next of kin. He was in his thirties in the 1930s, so he would have to have been over a hundred to still be living.
GARHOFA’s late Aubrey Holley had recently been searching for relatives before he himself passed away last year. Ironically, at this years’ South Georgia annual GARHOFA picnic, much of which has been through the efforts of Aubrey and Eddie MacDonald, a fellow introduced himself to me as Pete Craig.
Actually, he is Pete Craig, Jr. We had finally made contact.