By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 4/22/12
In the history of drivers from Dawsonville, Georgia to win at Daytona Beach, four men scored wins on the sands of Daytona between 1941 and 1959.
The exploits Gober Sosebee, Roy Hall, and Lloyd Seay are well documented. Their stories have been told time and time again, and each has a rightful place in the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. In fact, all three were members of the inaugural class of inductees in 2002.
But what of the fourth Dawsonville man to score a victory on the four mile beach and road course? What of fellow Dawsonville native Bernard Long?
Long’s story as a race driver is an interesting one, in that it didn’t last very long. Two races, in fact.
Long ran his first race in 1941 at the treacherous and challenging Lakewood Speedway, a one mile dirt oval located just south of downtown Atlanta. It was the proving grounds for Georgia drivers, who got the opportunity to line up against some of the best racers in the nation at the famed speedway.
It was against some of the top stock car drivers in the country that 28-year-old Long competed in his first ever event. He would not only learn fast, he proved he could hold his own against the best. He finished second in the event, starting talk in racing circles that he very well had a future in racing.
Long made the decision to travel south to Daytona Beach for the July 27, 1941 stock car event on the beach and road course.
Dawsonville cousins Hall and Seay had been making the headlines on the beach that year.
Hall had won the March 2 event, while Seay had grabbed headlines by bicycling his car through the turns on two wheels, thrilling the crowds.
Hall would finish third in the second event on the beach in 1941, behind winner Smokey Purser.
As the July 27 event wound down, it appeared that Long was going to match his Lakewood finish. He found himself trailing Florida’s Bill Snowdon as the race entered the closing laps.
With three laps to go, Snowdon’s car stumbled. A cut tire sent the Sunshine State Speedster to the pits, robbing him of a chance at a victory.
Snowdon’s misfortune was Long’s gain. With three laps to go, Long swept past the pits and into the lead. He would go on to score the win in just his second ever race, not to mention his first ever event at Daytona.
The rail birds were ecstatic. The racing journalists couldn’t believe it. Here was a driver who, in just his second time out, had conquered one of the most challenging race courses in the country. Surely, this young Georgian had a long, successful career in auto racing ahead of him.
But Long had other ideas. The $400 he scored for his victory was a ton of money in those days. It was just enough to buy himself a new boiler for a moonshine still, and set himself up in the whiskey business in North Georgia’s mountains. And that’s just what he did, and it became a pretty good money maker for him. He never raced again.
So now, years later, the question comes up. Can somebody who raced in only two events in his short career, but won one of the biggest races in the country at the time, be considered a Hall of Famer?
Regardless of whether he ever reaches the Hall of Fame, Bernard Long’s name will always be remembered for an incredibly short, but incredibly successful career as a stock car driver. He just happened to quit while he was on top.
Brandon Reed is the editor and publisher of Georgia Racing History.com.
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