Read more about the 48th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival
"Gentlemen, start your engines" is a very familiar phrase and one that creates a thunderous, heart-thumping beginning to a thrilling event.
The streets of Dawsonville hum with racing stories from all eras during the Mountain Moonshine Festival weekend, and the history of racing never ceases to amaze the visitors to our town.
The moonshine-era cars parked in town proudly represent the beginning of NASCAR racing, most of which occurred here in Dawsonville.
We have been honored to meet and become true friends of the car owners over the years.
Our respect for the men dedicated to preserving history has grown beyond measure.
While all of them have unique characteristics, one man stands above all others this particular year, Larry Bailey.
Larry lost his life in a tragic accident on April 18.
Bailey, as some called him, had a deep love of Fords and their history.
The Moonshine Run participants were fortunate enough to visit Larry's superb car collection at his property in Cleveland, Ga. in 2012 - a memorable day that will always stand out to each one that attended.
Aside from the breathtaking beauty of his property, shop and collection of cars (not to mention the gorgeous weather that particular day), Bailey was a most gracious host. He took a photo of each car as it passed through the covered bridge and onto his property.
His genuine disposition radiated to everyone he was near, and in all aspects of his life.
I understand that Larry frequently and quietly, picked up a total stranger's ticket in restaurants as a silent gesture of kindness.
He always went out of his way to speak kind and encouraging words to the pianist and other workers and visitors at his church each Sunday morning.
Larry never boldly declared any of his kindness; it was just what he was made of.
Larry loved bringing his Ford beauties to Moonshine Festival and his smiling face was a welcome site to us workers.
On Saturday morning, in the cold dark mornings when we were trying to get all the cars checked in and parked, Larry would stand by the registration table and hold our hands to warm them so we could continue to grip a pen.
We wanted to give everyone an opportunity to remember Larry this year by dedicating the car tour to his memory.
The purple ribbons tied on door handles represent our respect and gratitude for the lessons Larry's life taught us.
In reading condolences sent to Larry's family after his death, I noticed a word repeatedly used by several people - a word that I have used frequently as well to describe Larry was "gentle."
Larry was a kind, generous, and gentle man. I reflected on the times he assisted me in doing a job to help needy children in his gentle way.
The definition of a gentle man reaffirms this quality in Larry- a man who combines gentle birth or rank with chivalrous qualities; a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of correct behavior; who does not engage in any occupation or labor for gain.
What an honor we all had in knowing Larry Bailey - a walking testimony of a gentleman.
His character was a model to all that knew him.
Although his gentle ways may not have created a thunderous, heart-thumping start to a race, when we hear the word "gentlemen" . . . we can certainly reflect back on our memory of one true gentleman, Larry Bailey.
Rhonda Goodwin is a longtime volunteer with K.A.R.E for Kids.