Dave Wiley – A True Friend To Georgia Racing

Brandon Reed

Brandon Reed

By Brandon Reed
Posted in Columns 11/25/11

It’s not been very often that a good, solid friendship between the Georgia racing scene and television has come together.

That has not been the case, however, when it comes to Dave Wiley and this Commerce, Georgia based TV station, JBTV-54.

Dave’s channel has become a favorite of the locals in and around north Georgia.  While it is carried solely on Windstream cable, Dave sends his programming all over north Georgia, including high school football, gospel music programs and other local based programming, including races from Gresham Motorsports Park.

Wiley has become a strong supporter of Georgia racing in the last two years, and has worked tirelessly to promote not only the racing scene, but the hometown heroes behind the wheel as well.

I first met Dave working on the sidelines of an East Jackson High School football game.  During halftime, we were talking, and I invited him to come out and take a look at some of the racing action at what was then known as Peach State Speedway in nearby Jefferson.

Dave was pretty busy with various high school sports coverage (which, at a small town station, will be your bread and butter), so he wasn’t able to make it out that year.

Shortly after the track held its first event under the new name Gresham Motorsports Park in 2009, I happened to meet up again with Dave, this time at a local restaurant.  We sat and talked about the local sports scene, and I again invited him to come out to the track.

This time, he made it out, bringing his flagship program, the Lewis Sanders Show, out to GMP to do an interview with track general manager Dan Elliott.

Dave Wiley does an "anti-rain dance" in the stands at Gresham Motorsports Park to try to run off any rain clouds in the area prior to a 2010 event. Photo by Brandon Reed

From that came a great partnership between Dave and the speedway, which has gone a long way to help promote Georgia racing.

Each week, Dave would bring his cameras out to GMP to film “Garage Talk”, a 30 minute recap and preview of local racing action.

In addition, Dave began filming each event at Gresham Motorsports Park, giving the local heroes even more exposure for their racing exploits.

In the meantime, Dave would come out to film interviews with the NASCAR drivers that would come to GMP to test.  He was the first to ask Kurt Busch about the move to the Pennzoil No. 22 (a story that had broke just two hours before he interviewed Busch).  He exchanged some funny quips with 2011 Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart.

The NASCAR drivers seemed very at ease with Dave, who was very much an everyman, asking questions that the mainstream racing media didn’t.  The racers seemed to enjoy their time with Dave, and Dave very much enjoyed his time at the track.

But Dave didn’t want everything to be about the “big time drivers”.  For every NASCAR driver he would interview, Dave interviewed three local drivers, giving them a chance to have their moment in the spotlight, which not many get these days.  Dave stayed on top of what was happening on the local racing scene, and made sure those drivers got their moments in the sun as well.

Dave and I have been friends for several years now.  It’s always been a delight to see him at the race track.  Dave is quick with a joke or a story on his rock and roll days on the road.  It’s always made my day to see him coming up the grandstands, camera and equipment in hand, ready to brave the elements from high atop the Beau Slocumb Scoring Tower at GMP.

Dave has also always been one to go the extra mile.  At one race, he brought out three cameras, putting camera operators on scissor lifts in the first and second turns to try to catch all the action.  All this from a man who edits his own footage on the fly.  That’s hard work, take it from me.

He’s also been willing to do things away from the race track.  He once traveled with me to Baldwin, Georgia to film what turned out to be the last interview with Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member Tommie Irvin.  He allowed me to film portions of last year’s Athens Speedway Reunion for a project that, unfortunately, never came to light.

He has also been a great friend to the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.  On more than one occasion, he’s been willing to step up and help with filming segments for the Hall of Fame banquets, which would not have been possible without his help.

Through it all, Dave has always had a good time, and has always kept a smile on his face.  He had helped bring so much attention to racers and racing in the area, and has proven to be a true friend to Georgia racing.

Unfortunately, Dave has hit upon hard times.  For a myriad of reasons, not the least of which being the illness of his wife, Dave is having to let JBTV-54 go dark.  On this week’s installment of the “Lewis Sanders Show”, Dave said very clearly he only intends this to be temporary thing until he can get situations under control.

I certainly hope so.  The Georgia racing scene can not afford to lose great friends like Dave Wiley.  We need to do what we can to help those friends, especially when they’ve done so much to help us.

No matter what, Dave Wiley will continue to be a great friend.  Here’s hoping his absence from North Georgia’s television scene will be a very, very brief one.

Brandon Reed is the editor and publisher of Georgia Racing History.com.

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