Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Honors 2011 Inductees

The 2011 Class of Inductees into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame were honored at the annual induction banquet and ceremony at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Georgia Friday night. Photo by Justin Poole

By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 10/82/11

Friday night was truly a night to remember, as the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame inducted its 2011 class and honored other racing luminaries at the Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, Georgia.

Those inducted included George Elliott of Dawsonville, Mike Head of Ellenwood, Harold Kite of College Park, Swayne Pritchett of Baldwin and Ken Ragan of Perry.

George Elliott, the patriarch of the racing Elliott family, was remembered as a true gentleman who entered racing as an enthusiastic car owner, lending help to several aspiring racers.  Among those who got their start in racing through his efforts were his three sons, who would go on to win two Daytona 500s and the 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup title.

George passed away in 1998.  His sons Bill, Dan and Ernie accepted the honor on behalf of their father.

Mike Head, the winner of over 650 feature dirt track events, was also honored.  Head has long been a favorite of Georgia and dirt track fans all over the country, scoring victories in the Dixie 100 and the North-South Shootout, as well as winning the 1991 Northern All-Star Speedweek Championship and the 1991 Southern All-Stars Championship.  He was also a 2010 inductee into the National Dirt Racing Hall of Fame.

Head had a huge number of family, friends and fans on hand Friday night as he accepted the honor.

Harold Kite, a former Army Tank Driver in World War II, was remembered not only for his racing exploits, but as a father and friend.  Kite scored the victory on Daytona Beach in 1950 in the NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) event, out running fellow Hall of Fame member Red Byron for the victory.  He also scored numerous wins and accolades on tracks all over the state of Georgia.

Kite lost his life in a racing accident at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October of 1965.  His children, Lisa Kite Carson and Alan Kite, accepted the honor for their father.

Swayne Pritchett was a true NASCAR and stock car pioneer.  He began racing in 1947, competing at Daytona Beach, Habersham Speedway and at tracks all over the southeast.  He was the 23rd driver to obtain a NASCAR license in the sanctioning bodies’ first year, 1948, and would fifth at Daytona that year.  He would climb as high as fifth in NASCAR points before losing his life in a tragic on-track accident moments after winning a race at the Jackson County Speedway in Jefferson, Georgia on May 16, 1948.

Pritchett’s sons, Harold and C.L., along with his son-in-law Harold Bennett, accepted the award for Swayne Friday night.

Ken Ragan began his racing career piloting high-speed go carts, winning the World Karting Association Championship in 1978.  He would make more than 50 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts throughout his career, as well as several Nationwide series and ARCA starts. After retiring from driving, Ragan worked to help establish Legends Cars of Georgia in 1997 and in 2001 would move to Charlotte, North Carolina to manage 600 Racing, which manufactures and sponsors Legends cars around the world.

Many of the drivers that Ragan helped in Legends racing, including his son, current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Ragan, were on hand to see Ragan accept the award.

There were other racing luminaries honored during Friday night’s ceremonies.  1960 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) champion Rex White was honored for his contributions to racing and to the Hall of Fame.  Long time friend to the Hall of Fame J.B. Day, of Greenville, South Carolina was honored for his contributions to racing by receiving the annual Annie Dean Samples Spirit Award, along with being honored by Suzanne Wise, the Curator of the Stock Car Racing Collection at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame also awarded their first Driver of the Year, with that honor being bestowed upon Senoia, Georgia racer Bubba Pollard.  Pollard, who drives for GRHOF 2009 inductee Ronnie Sanders, has won 18 Late Model features to date, putting together a true Hall of Fame worthy season.

If you weren’t able to be at the Hall of Fame for last Friday night’s event, never fear.  Take a look over the next few pages for a look at some of the sights from the 2011 Georgia Racing Hall of Fame induction banquet.

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