By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 1/6/15
When you’re searching for tiny little snippets of racing history, one of your best friends is the newspaper.
Whether it’s the local paper from an area that was populated with little dirt bullrings after World War II or a regional motorsports newspaper, they all help us to piece together the story of racing over the years.
For Georgia Racing History’s Mike Bell, there’s no better present than to discover a previously unknown racing news source that ends up being rich in local motorsports history. Such was the case recently, as Bell, who is currently researching Georgia race tracks for an upcoming book.
Bell spent much of the recent holidays working on his book. Enter Jeff Smith, another Georgia racing historian, who located a cache of copies of a small racing paper called Rebel Racing News from the late 1960s.
Rebel Racing News operated out of Waleska, GA, and was published and edited by Bob Cline. It was published “each Wednesday from the second Wednesday in March through the second Wednesday in October,” with 32 issues planned annually.
Writers such as Judy Dingler and Mike Abernathy reported on Georgia tracks like Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, GA, Coweta Raceway and Forsyth County Speedway in Cumming, GA. The paper also featured rules and regulations for various tracks, along with advertisements for events and racing related businesses including JeffCo Speedway (now Gresham Motorsports Park), Cherokee Motor Speedway, Bud Lunsford’s Speed Shop and Centry Young Engine Corporation.
Below you’ll find photos of the second issue of Rebel Racing News, published Wednesday, March 20, 1968. The lead story is on Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Leon “Slick” Sells having the “Luck of the Irish” in scoring a St. Patrick’s Day victory in a 100 lap race at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway. It tells of Sells and Hugh McMichael battling for some 25 laps before McMichael fell back with overheating troubles, handing the win to Sells. McMichael finished in second, with Al Carney third, John Rogers fourth and J.W. Boatwright in fifth.
Jim Hurtubise, Jim Hunter, Cotton Wallace, Tootle Estes and Chuck Scott rounded out the top ten.
Other stories include the season opener at Forsyth County Speedway, with Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Buck Simmons scoring the Modified victory. It also featured news of the Coweta Raceway opener, which saw James Norton beat out Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Billy Clanton. All the stories also feature excellent photos, some that had not been seen in many years.
We wanted to share with you a look at this great time capsule from the past, not only to give you an idea of how cool some of the local racing reporting was back then, but also in hopes that maybe you will find some of these great newspapers, and share them with us. As we’ve said, this is one of the most helpful tools we can have as we continue to build our knowledge of the rich racing heritage in Georgia.
Brandon Reed is the editor and publisher of Georgia Racing History.com.
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