The Georgia Gang Were Kings Of The Beach


The Birth Of NASCAR

Fonty Flock led most of the Feb. 15, 1948 event at Daytona Beach, but crashed hard after a spindle broke on his Ford. Red Byron picked up the win in the first NASCAR sanctioned event.

On December 14, 1947, several luminaries in the world of stock car racing gathered for a summit at the Streamline Hotel at Daytona Beach.  Out of the meeting came the formation of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, or NASCAR.  The name, incidentally, was created by Atlanta mechanic Red Vogt.

Races at the beach from there on would be run under the NASCAR banner and promoted by Bill France, Sr.

The first race under the new NASCAR banner was run at Daytona Beach on Feb. 15, 1948.  Stock cars, at that time, were essentially modified stocks, known just as modifieds later on.  France’s Strictly Stock division, which would later evolve into today’s Sprint Cup Series, was still a year away from its first race.

No matter who sanctioned the event, it was still the Georgia Gang that ruled the beach.  Fonty Flock led the first 60 miles of the event, and was leading with 18 laps to go when his Ford broke a spindle.  His car flipped end over end, landing in the palmetto bushes.  Flock escaped injury.

Daytona native Marshall Teague took the lead, but was hunted down by Red Byron.  On lap 50, the two began fighting side-by-side for the lead.  Byron would lead the final 16 laps to win by 15 seconds over Teague.

Of note is the third place finisher.  Car owner Raymond Parks is credited with the third place effort, but it should be noted that Bob Flock drove in relief of Parks after his own car fell out.

Other notable Georgia Gang members included Baldwin, Georgia driver Swayne Pritchett finishing fifth and Ed Samples taking eighth.  The race also marked the first beach event for Tim Flock, youngest of the three brothers.  It marked the first time three brothers competed in the same event at Daytona.

Swayne Pritchett (17) and Gober Sosebee (middle) look to avoid a skittering Tommy Moon (right) coming off the north turn. Photo courtesy Harold Pritchett

Seven years after the crash that left him badly injured, Fonty Flock finally got his revenge at Daytona Beach in the August 8, 1948 event.  Fonty started his Hugh Babb owned Ford in the third position, and was trailing Red Byron when a rock punctured Byron’s oil pan with four laps remaining.  Flock was more than a lap down at the time, and had to pass Byron’s car twice as it sat still to take the lead.  Fonty would sail on to victory, averaging 73.92 miles an hour in the process.

The Georgia Gang’s stranglehold on Daytona’s victory lane would be broken briefly in the first race of 1949, held on January 16.  Ed Samples was just two laps away from victory on the beach when his engine broke a rod, handing the lead and the win to Daytona native Marshall Teague.

The first event on the beach for what would later become the Sprint Cup series occurred on July 10, 1949.  Dawsonville’s Gober Sosebee took an early lead, checking out over Red Byron and Tim Flock.  Sosebee would lead by as much as a mile and a half at one point.  But with just six laps remaining, a failed tire on Sosebee’s Oldsmobile gave the lead to Byron, who went on to win.  Tim Flock finished second while Frank “Rebel” Mundy rounded out a Georgia rout of the top three.

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