Charlie Mincey, Racer For Hire

Georgia racing legend Charlie Mincey. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

By Mike Bell
Posted in Feature Stories 3/5/10

When stock car racing started, they were mostly whiskey trippers driving race cars on the weekends with loads of moonshine form the Smokey Mountain areas to either Charlotte, Greenville, Knoxville, Chattanooga or Atlanta, the largest city in the south…then and now.  One of the myths presented over the years was that they were all war veterans looking for an extra paycheck and some thrills.

What if you heard about a fourteen year old that had been driving around Atlanta at the age of ten in 1941, and got his driver’s license at the age of 12 (yeah, he lied)?

“I was big for my age; I really looked sixteen,” Charlie Mincey told me recently, which was the legal driving age in Georgia.

Then two weeks after he got his license at twelve, he got his first speeding ticket for doing 85 miles an hour down Marietta Street west of the Georgia Tech campus.

“But the fine was only $27.50 or something like that,” Mincey said.

Charlie Mincey with his first moonshine car. He paid $575 for it, then got Georgia Hall of Fame member Bob Flock build a modified flathead racing engine for it with three carburetors. Photo courtesy GARHOFA.

Between the ages of fourteen and nineteen, Charlie Mincey ran moonshine at least once a night “seven days a week”, making about one dollar per gallon.

“You paid the moonshiner at the still $2.50 a gallon, and sold it in Atlanta for a dollar more a gallon,” Mincey said.

And how much whiskey did Charlie carry on a run?

“I liked to carry it in cans because you could get 200 gallons in one load, where if it was in Mason jars, you couldn’t get more than 120 gallons in a car.”

In five years of running ‘shine’, he never lost a load.

On his first trip to the mountains, he carried a veteran race driver and tripper named Guy “Crash” Waller.

“In those days, any headlights that came into your rearview mirror you ran from,” Charlie said.

And sure enough, they were jumped.

“Guy wanted to lighten the load by throwing some of the moonshine out, but I had just spent every penny I had for that shine and I wasn’t about to throw it out,” Charlie said.  “I told Guy to give me a minute and we would lose them, and we did.”

Charlie would sit in the truck plaza on Bankhead Highway in Northeast Atlanta and get bored.  Then for a lark, he would have them call the police.  When the squad cars would arrive, he would already be out behind the plaza, waiting in his car.  As soon as the police would pull up, he would roar out front and run circles around the pump, then take off with the sirens wailing behind him.  Or they would go down in front of Red Vogt’s garage and cut circles until the neighbors called the cops and the chase was on again!

A grizzled war veteran out looking for kicks and a few extra bucks?  Nah!  Just Charlie Mincey.

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