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Volunteer board to run museum

Plans underway to increase visitors

POSTED: September 29, 2010 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame museum features a collection of stock cars driven by Dawsonville's Bill Elliott and other local drivers.

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On just about any given day, Gordon Pirkle can be found giving tours at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.


“Sometimes three or four times a day,” he said last Friday during his second that afternoon. “I enjoy it. I really do.”


Earlier this month, the Dawsonville City Council, which had overseen museum operations since 2008, returned managing control to a group of longtime volunteers in an effort to move the hall of fame forward.


“The racing hall of fame needs to be on its own two feet,” said Councilman James Grogan, who sits on the group’s board of directors.


Located at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, the museum houses a collection of donated or on-loan stock cars, trophies and racing memorabilia.


The museum also chronicles the area’s unique racing history and Dawsonville’s own Bill Elliott’s rise to stardom as one of the most popular NASCAR drivers of all time.


Pirkle has agreed to serve as the board’s president.


“This is really the best thing for the museum. We kind of were at a standstill, and don’t get me wrong — the city has been very good to us,” Pirkle said. “But it was slow getting things done when you suggest this and you have to get approval for that.”


A corporation, established by the city for the museum, will be transferred was signed over to the group, along with about $40,000 from the museum’s operating account collected through various fundraising efforts.


“I’ve told the other members that they’ve thrown us the ball and it’s up to us to catch and run with it or drop it,” Pirkle said.


Grogan said the group has several ideas to increase visitors, including a small entrance fee in the near future.


“Sometimes when something is free, people don’t take it as serious,” he said.


Pirkle said the group of volunteers is serious about the museum’s success.


“This is the birth place of stock car racing,” he said, as his eyes lit up and he began motioning ovals with his hand. “Our goal is to get as many people in the museum as we can.”


The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and noon until 4 p.m. Sunday.


For more information, call (678) 283-6100.


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