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Lakewood reunion brings racers, fans together

POSTED: August 15, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News/

Race car fans admire a tribute to the careers of Owens and Mostellers on Saturday during the Lakewood Speedway Reunion.

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The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame hosted the fifth annual Lakewood Speedway Reunion on Saturday in honor of the hundreds of racers who competed on the famed Atlanta track.

"This is the kind of reunion I want to have more of," said racing historian and board member Gordon Pirkle. "One where you sit among the cars, watch racing footage on the TV's and visit with one another."

Lakewood Speedway was once called the "Indianapolis of the South" for holding races around its 1-mile dirt track between 1919 and 1979. Starting out as a horse racing track, it eventually held NASCAR-sanctioned events.

More than 70 men came out on Saturday to remember those early days of racing. Doug Amelio, whose father-in-law, Gerald Duke, once raced at Lakewood Speedway, has been coming out to the reunion for several years.

"I enjoy automotive racing and the fact that my father-in-law was in it in the early days is really neat," he said.

"Hearing his story of how racing started really interested me in Lakewood and racing legacies. I also enjoy seeing the motorcycles and race cars here."

Amelio said the event gives guests a chance to network with fellow racecar fans and hear stories of the early racing days.

The reunion also honored two influential Lakewood Speedway participants, driver Cotton Owens and popular race announcer Jimmy Mosteller.

Pirkle, who has been friends with Owens for years, said he first heard of him through Donnie Sosebee, who raced with him in the early days.

"[Owens] is going into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this year, so that's great," he said.

Pirkle also recalled his first time hearing announcer Mosteller, nicknamed "the voice of racing."

"When I went to my first races at Lakewood he was announcing," Pirkle recalled.

"If there was ever such a thing as a boring race, Mosteller would make it sound like the most exciting race he ever saw. He had a way of keeping everything exciting."

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