Mike Head: The Renaissance Racer

Mike Head (right) and Dale Earnhardt at Woodstock, Georgia's Dixie Speedway.

By Mike Bell
Posted in Feature Stories 7/29/11

In the past, many of the drivers we have profiled here on this website were born before World War II. We felt that some of the modern racers defined the word “throwback.”

Mike Head does just that. In the very early years of stock car racing before and just after the war, weekly racing was unknown. Drivers traveled to other cities, sometimes distant, to race. The early Georgia drivers made the choice to go where the racing and money were. Daytona to end every winter; then Charlotte, Columbia, Chattanooga and other cities had their races.

But what was missing was weekly racing. That changed the driver from a traveling man to a local racer. Mike Head was born.

“My first traveling experience came at the Tiny Lund Memorial in Summerville, SC,” Head said.  “Drivers Roscoe Smith and Leon Archer both told me I ought to go over there and run. I was working with friend Terry Dalton at his welding supply company. He told me if I went I had better be back in time to go to work on Friday morning (the race was on a Thursday night) or he would fire me. I knew he would hire me back but he would fire me. I got off work about noon and left for South Carolina with my wife and a friend Harold Minnix.

“Well, I came in second and won $1800. That was more money than I had ever seen at one time in my life. Charlie Powell paid me with 18 $100 bills. All the way home I was scared to death that we would be robbed. Ray Allison won the race but coming off of turn two on the last lap, I got under Ray. If I pressed it into turn three, only one of us would have made it to the checkered flag. But I let it go and finished second. After thinking about it for years, I often wondered what would have happened if I had pushed my way into turn three. Anyway, we got back to town safely about seven in the morning.  I showered and went to work. But I kinda liked the feeling of traveling so far away and doing so good. I decided then that I would travel more. There probably isn’t a state in the South where I haven’t raced. And I won a lot. I’ve been to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, Florida and raced successfully.”

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