The Georgia Gang Were Kings Of The Beach


Two Wheel And Sports Car Thunder

Atlanta's Ted Edwards finished second on the beach at Daytona in 1947.

It should be noted that the dominance of the Georgia Gang was not just limited to four wheels.  Several motorcycle racers from the Peach State also saw success at Daytona.

The first Daytona 200 was held on the beach in 1937.  Beach racing for the motorcycles would run up to 1960, after which they moved to the Daytona International Speedway.

While no motorcycle racers from Georgia shared the same success as their four wheeled counterparts on the beach, several came close.  The best effort on record came from legendary Georgia motorcyclist Ted Edwards from Atlanta.  Edwards finished second on the beach in 1947 behind winner John Spiegelhoff.  Edwards would record a seventh place finish in 1949.

Other riders who traveled to Daytona to compete on the beach included Jack Johnson, Neil Keen, Burrell Copeland, H.M. Atkinson and Paul Brown.

The Georgia Gang’s first major taste of motorcycle success at Daytona would come several years later at the big track.

In 1979, Dale Singleton, from Dalton, Georgia, broke into victory lane at Daytona in the 200 as a privateer, taking on the big factory teams.  Dubbed the “Flying Pig Farmer”, Singleton battled David Aldana for the lead until Aldana succumbed to a mechanical failure.

Singleton would again win the Daytona 200, riding a Yamaha he built himself, in 1981.

Singleton left the world of motorcycle racing to pursue a career in NASCAR.  He lost his life in 1985 in a private place crash.

In 1990, it was another Georgia Gang member in victory lane for the Daytona 200.  Dave Sadowski was born in New Hampshire, but grew up in Jefferson, Georgia.  In 1990, Sadowski added his name to Daytona’s record books with a victory in the 200.

Gene Felton (center) celebrates in victory lane with Billy Hagen (left) and Terry Labonte (right) after the trio's class win in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1984. Photo courtesy www.genefeltonrestorations.com

But by far the most successful Georgia motorcycle ace at Daytona is East Point, Georgia’s Scott Russell.  Russell has won the Daytona 200 five times, a feat that has earned him the title “Mr. Daytona”.

Russell won the prestigious event in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997 and 1998.  The 1992 event was won in a photo finish in what many consider to be one of the greatest in the history of the event.

You can also not overlook the Georgia Gang’s performances in sports car competition at Daytona.

Gainesville, Georgia native Doc Bundy won the 24 hours of Daytona in 1985, co-driving a Ford Mustang with Wally Dallenbach, Jr. and John Jones.

Gene Felton also recorded a class win in the 24 hours of Daytona 1984. He also recorded wins in the Presidential 250 in 1972, and the Paul Revere 250 in 1973.

These men’s accomplishments are all part of the mystique that surrounds the Georgia Gang’s dominance at Daytona.

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