Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 10, 2013

Thunderbowl memories: Reunion recalls racetrack

HAHIRA — The Eighth Annual Thunderbowl Auto Racing Hall of Fame Reunion was at the Hahira Historical Society Saturday. The event was filled with former racers from around Georgia; they all reminisced about their former racing years.

Some of the big names there were Eddie MacDonald, Sputter Ragans, Louie Radney Jr., Wayne Davis, George Martin, Ronnie Lieupo, Charlie Hatch, Hazel Jones to remember her husband, Harvey Jones, and Jimmy Murphy, among others.

Radney, former racer and owner of Thunderbowl Speedway from 1975–1999, said, “Racing back then was dog-eat-dog. I had an older guy tell me, ‘We’d go to a fight, and a race would break out.’”

MacDonald was the oldest, and most respected, racer there. MacDonald began racing in 1947; he drove the “Golden No. 90.”

Then, the entire sport was trial and error. If a racer lost, then he would send someone to the winner’s circle to take notes on the winner’s car.

“Racing is hard work. We didn’t know anything about it back then, and we had to do everything by hand. We learned by trail and error; we’d constantly be changing the parts around,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald enjoyed the racing because he enjoyed the competition. He estimates that he won around 1,150 to 1,200 races.

Davis had his first race at Thunderbowl in 1972 and raced there until 1986. Davis then advanced to sprint car racing in Indiana.

“It’s been in my blood all of my life, and racing taught me respect,” Davis said.

Davis recalled speeding down the track reaching speeds from 65 to 110 miles per hour, turning to your right, but going left.

“Slipping and sliding is the good thing about dirty racing. Now, kids are into drifting. We’ve been drifting for 40 years, on dirt,” Davis said.

Hatch started racing on dirt tracks in 1963, and he stopped when it stopped being fun, in 1990. Hatch enjoyed meeting other drivers and going to different tracks, especially Thunderbowl.

“We didn’t get in it for the money, we got in it for the fun,” Hatch said.

Murphy raced for 35 years, beginning in 1972. Murphy recalled being asked to race in Lake City, Fla., but he won 52 out of 56 races, then they told him not to come back again because he won too much.

Harvey Jones drove the blue No. 6, and he won the first Thunderbowl Speedway race in 1949; he raced until 2002. Harvey passed away three years ago, but his wife, Hazel Jones, was there in remembrance of Harvey. Hazel has never driven an automobile, but she was married to one of the most respected racers in Georgia.

“Harvey raced clean. People wanted to beat him because beating Harvey meant beating somebody,” Hazel said. “Racers respected him. He was protested many times, but never found illegal, and he was proud of that record.”

Marvin Mills, race car owner said, “A lot of drivers got a bad rap, but most of them are pretty good folks. They would knock your tail off on the track, but if you had a child that needed some help, they’d be the first one to come to your door.”

The one thing all of these racers had in common was they all enjoyed the atmosphere and the community that racing provided. This was also an atmosphere where respect was won, not given.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • City: Most overflows stopped

    The City of Valdosta reported Wednesday evening that all manhole overflows resulting from Tuesday’s heavy rains had stopped, with the exception of two.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140416-gov_deal002.jpg Signed into law

    Gov. Nathan Deal went on a signing tour Wednesday across Georgia, flying into the Valdosta Regional Airport to sign three bills into law.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2 charged in N.C. kidnapping

    Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot.

    April 17, 2014

  • VSU opens spring senior art show Saturday

    Several graduating art seniors will present their show this weekend at Valdosta State University.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results