Bruce Brantley: “A Complete Racer”

Lakewood, Bruce and Curtis Turner

Driving a car tailor-made for his style of driving, Curtis Turner climbs out victorious at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway in 1967.

It was also in 1967 that a team of drivers and officials decided to lease the old Lakewood track from the city.  They received NASCAR sanction for Late Model Sportsman races that would form a circuit that included Middle Georgia, Augusta International, Savannah and Jefco Speedway (now Gresham Motorsports Park).  These men were T.C. Hunt, Ike Bowen, Joe Smith, Ernie Moore, Jimmy Summerour and Dub Smith.  To pack the stands they needed one of the best cars in town and one of the best-known drivers in the country.

Thus the legendary Curtis Turner was hired to drive the Bruce Brantley Chevelle.

“Turner had just started back racing NASCAR’s Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup) after being banned for trying to unionize the drivers,” GARHOFA historian Mike Bell told us.  “He was teamed up with Smokey Yunick and his famous black and gold #13 Chevelle.  During testing for the Atlanta 500, he rolled the car down the straightway and ended up with several broken ribs.  That didn’t keep Turner from going to Lakewood, where he won two of three feature events he entered for the season.

Dub Smith and Curtis Turner share the spotlight with Miss Lakewood Speedway after another of Turner’s wins in a Brantley car.

“You take that style driver, from the mode of Gober Sosebee, Eddie MacDonald or Tiny Lund, put him on a dirt track, and you better have a hell of a tough and fast car to pull it off,” Bell added.  “And really if it hadn’t been for his sore ribs, he would have probably won three in the Brantley Chevelle.”

Richard Davis told us something else about Turner later that same year.

“After Curtis Turner’s experience in Bruce’s Chevelle at Lakewood, he had a ride at Rockingham in one built by an ex-Junior Johnson employee,” he said.  “He called Bruce during their practice to see if he would bring the car up for him to race, saying out 327 would kick their 427 car right out of the race.  Unfortunately, we were one-year model too old to be eligible.  Just another example of Brantley’s expertise.”

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