Short Cuts With Billy Carden


Running Whiskey

Driving the Smith Radiator Special, Carden chalks up another win at the Peach Bowl. This is a rare daytime race probably sometime around 1950, sanctioned by NASCAR, and flagged by Alvin Hawkins, who was with Bill France before NASCAR.

Like many other drivers of his day, Carden hauled a little whiskey back then.

“Well, I was in it for a while,” he said.  “I was hauling to the worst place in the world.  Alabama.  I remember they gave a guy five years when they found a pint I his pocket.  Those people we hauled to over there wouldn’t even speak to you in public.  They would see you coming and cross the street to avoid contact.  We had to set the whiskey off ourselves they were so scared.

“We hauled around the Tallapoosa and Anniston area.  Had to collect our money way out in the country at a big nightclub, so they wouldn’t know who was paying for it.  But, like I said, I didn’t do that for long.”

“Roy Shields was a big G-Man in Georgia,” Billy continued.  “He had his car maintained by Hugh Babb, a master mechanic who also kept up my race car.  He told Hugh to get in touch with my mother because somebody needed to talk to me.  He said he could have caught me a many a time, and he was going to soon.

“He told Hugh that ‘If Bill Carden doesn’t believe me, then tell him I know his tag number, what color shirt he had on, and the barn door he led the mule from so as to load his car last night.  Furthermore, I could have tapped him on the shoulder I was so close to him,’ Shields said.”

“After that I quit,” Billy said.

That brought an end to Billy’s outlaw days.

“Yes, it certainly did,” Carden said.  “Well, kinda.  There was that counterfeit scam later on.  But I was not involved in that.  A friend of mine, Leroy Thomas, and some others were.  Leroy had ridden in another car going to a race in Chattanooga with some of us.  I noticed he would pass us and pull over an awful lot of times.  What he was doing was spending that funny money and getting legal change out of it.  We event ate in Chattanooga after the race with the stuff.  Anyway, the next day or so I read about this counterfeit ring in the paper, and knew some things were going to go down.”

“One morning I was working on a race car at Smith Radiator Shop in East Point, and in walked Bud Williams of the FBI with some other suits,” Billy continued.  “They took me downtown but I told them I didn’t know anything.  Thomas ended up doing some time even though he wasn’t the ringleader.  He took the whole rap.  After that I tried to improve my buddy list.”

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