Jimmy Summerour-The Man Behind the Scenes

Jimmy Summerour sits in his dragster outside the trophy lined garage of R.T. "Buckshot" Morris in 1959.

By Mike Bell
Posted in Feature Stories 7/1/11

In racing today, after interviewing the winning driver, they go to the crew chief for insight on how the car worked. That crew chief spouts off a few names of the crew who made the victory possible – the tire changer, the engine builder or even the body fabricator.

In the days of the pioneers, these jobs generally fell on one man. It wasn’t until the sixties that there were “true crews” to bestow some credit. In the early days – the driver and maybe his mechanic were the sole claimants to a victory. Even during this time, the jobs switched back and forth. Behind every great driver stood a great mechanic.

James Henry “Jimmy” Summerour stood behind many drivers as the man who made it all seem so easy. He learned his trade as every mechanic before him had and applied his time and effort into auto mechanics.

Jimmy’s beginnings read like a Hollywood script. He was born to Alice Nell and James Harold Summerour at the family home off Roswell Road outside of Marietta, GA in 1934. A three year old sister, Mary Kathylene , would be his only sibling. The “end” of the depression had begun and his father’s luck came in the form of a job at the new Atlantic Steel plant in downtown Atlanta for 50 cents per day or $2.50 per week operating a crane in the sweltering plant.

For the grand sum of $500, Jimmy’s parents bought a house at what is now the north end of the Georgia Tech campus – “$100 down and $100 at the beginning of September for the next four years,” was how Jimmy explained the deal. At four years of age, it would be the house in which Jimmy would remember where he grew to be a man. It was a neighborhood that was a university unto itself. Every “racing” shop was in walking distance of 474 Calhoun Street.

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