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“He never said a word”: How the nation’s first racing superspeedway was almost built in Dawson County
Gober Sosebee (right) in 1947 sitting in the middle of the construction site for his super speedway in Dawsonville that never was. - photo by Photo submitted

The Sosebee family has lived off of Nix Bridge Road in Dawsonville for generations. 

Even today, David Sosebee and his family live there on over 100 acres of land that have remained more or less untouched for years.

But had things gone a little bit differently, the Sosebee land in west Dawson County could have become the country’s first professional racing super speedway. A mile long track with natural grandstands and a lake in the infield, which Sosebee’s father Gober spent his life trying to complete.

Gober Sosebee was a racing pioneer in the 1940’s, right when NASCAR was officially formed as a league. One of the several racers that hailed from Dawsonville at that time, Sosebee had plenty of experience driving at all the different tracks surrounding Dawsonville. He raced at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, which became Lakewood Amphitheatre, on numerous occasions and was the first ever, three-time winner at Daytona, when races were held on the beach. 

Until Bill France officially formed NASCAR in February 1948, racing primarily consisted of old moonshine haulers and hobbyists, who painstakingly built their cars and raced for glory and the love of the sport. 

But with the sport’s official debut, money and promotions began flooding in. And if there was money to be made in racing, Gober Sosebee wanted in on it.

Sosebee said at that time his father was working at car garages in Atlanta, and one night, as he looked at all the land in his backyard, he got an idea of how he could further contribute to the budding business of racing. A superspeedway built in the birthplace of modern racing. 

Within a short time, work began on the racetrack. Using borrowed construction equipment and two horses, Sosebee set out with passion, charting a track that ran through woods on the northwestern edge of Lake Lanier. 

Sosebee wanted a water feature in the infield of the track and had an entire irrigation plan to pump the water onto the track. 

The first turn was going to be the real money maker. Attached to the foothill across the creek was where Sosebee would have filled in land to make the turn wide like current day tracks. Sosebee said his father wanted to do this to try to save some traction for the tires. The foothill was large enough where it would have made a natural grandstand for fans to sit and watch the race.

But the dream didn’t last for long. The first straightway had been cleared and the turn was started on when Sosebee was unable to further construction. 

“He ran out of money,” David Sosebee said. “He simply couldn’t afford to keep putting money into a track that may or may not have made money. Nobody was helping him because they couldn’t see or didn’t believe in his vision for the track.”

The project did not last for a year, but according to Sosebee his father took the incompleteness of the track very personally, especially as the racing business continued to blossom. 

Even at the end of his life, Sosebee and his father had never personally talked about the track. He had only ever heard stories from his fathers friends or his uncle. 

“We didn’t talk about the track,” Sosebee said. “He never said a word. I always knew growing up that was the one thing I didn’t discuss with him.” 

David Sosebee standing in his backyard, where his father, racing legend Gober Sosebee, broke ground and began building what would have been the first ever Super Speedway track. - photo by Jacob Smith

According to Sosebee, blueprints for the track have never been found. He’s unsure if they ever existed or if his father destroyed them when the project failed. 

Sosebee continued to work on cars at garages until November 1996, when he died in a farming accident on the family property. 

“There’s something awe-inspiring about him living his whole life where he was born and then dying on the property too,” Sosebee said. “Almost like it was meant to be.” 

Sosebee’s last recorded professional race was the 1959 Daytona 500. Sosebee finished 49th out of 59 drivers.

NASCAR now uses over 30 tracks for their races each year, with only one in Georgia being the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Darlington Raceway was completed in 1950 and was the first track of its kind. Sosebee did race at Darlington and led the first lap he raced there. 

“He wanted to prove that he could have done it,” Sosebee said. “He always took Darlington personally.” 

Today, the land where the track was planned to go is still cleared and still belongs to Sosebee. Though trees grow in the middle of the clearing, the imprint of where construction began still remains. 

As time has passed, Sosebee said he has considered selling part of his land to real estate developers or someone else to help his family and allow him to retire sooner. But Gober Sosebee and his track will always be part of the wooded land off Nix Bridge Road. 

And who knows, Sosebee said, maybe someday someone will come and complete Gober’s dream. 

“Cars and racing was what he loved to do,” Sosebee said. “Maybe one day there will be some sort of track here. Maybe one day.”