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Dawsonville streets to be renamed
ID0L Pic of Sosebee car
Gober Sosebee car

Stock car driver and moonshine runner Bernard Long decided to quit while he was ahead. He took the $400 he'd won at the Daytona Beach course on July 27, 1941, a fortune back then, and bought a new boiler for his moonshine still.

Turned out, the 28-year-old Dawsonville native was a pretty savvy businessman he never raced again.

In August, a street in downtown Dawsonville will be named to honor Long, and seven other racing legends, all steeped in Dawsonville's liquid history.

Gordon Pirkle, president of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, and owner of the historic Dawsonville Pool Room, said it's been a dream of his for 12 years to rename the city's streets.

"This will bring out our history," Pirkle said. "I get to see how shocked people are when they walk into the museum and see that we got so many winners from Dawsonville. It's just in our blood. It's in our DNA."

Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan said the signs will help efforts to better brand the city as a destination point.

"Our city has an identity that comes from the moonshine and fast cars that were prevalent during the late 30's and 40's and into the NASCAR era," Grogan said. "Our Dawsonville drivers were able to win 12 of the 15 beach courses in Daytona."

In fact, Dawsonville drivers or car owners have snatched up nine national championships starting with "Lightning" Lloyd Seay's in 1938, which Pirkle said marked the official beginning of stock car racing as we know it today. What is now Third Street will be renamed in his memory.

One old Georgia deputy once described pulling over Seay for speeding.

"He was without a doubt the best automobile driver of his time," the deputy said. "He was absolutely fearless, and an excellent driver on those dusty, dirty roads. I caught him eight times and had to shoot his tires off every time."

Another deputy said Seay once gave him two five-dollar bills.

"Dang it, Llloyd, you know the fine for speeding' ain't but five dollars." Seay replied, "Yeah, but I'm gon' be in a hurry comin' back, so I'm paying in advance."

Seay began racing in 1938, winning his first stock car race at Lakewood Speedway driving a 1934 Ford owned by his cousin, another Dawsonville native, Raymond Parks. Sadly, just three years later, on Sept. 2, 1941, Seay was shot and killed by another cousin, Woodrow Anderson, in a dispute over a load of sugar a primary ingredient in many moonshine recipes.

Parks was the owner of NASCAR's first Stirctly Stock (now Sprint Cup) championship car driven by Robert "Red" Byron. Legend has it that Parks began hauling moonshine when he was 14-years-old. He later served nine months in a federal penitentiary in Ohio. Parks is credited with having help found NASCAR, financed with a small fortune made from selling moonshine to thirsty patrons in Atlanta. Parks's drivers won Daytona 11 times, and NASCAR championships in 1948 and 1949. First Street will be changed to pay homage to this NASCAR legend.

Another Dawsonville native, Gober Sosebee, won Daytona three times on the old beach course in 1949, 1950, and 1951. He holds the two fastest time trials set at Daytona Beach, and his son David has the certificates to prove it.

The first, dated Feb. 18, 1954 reads: "This is to certify that Gober Sosebee drove a 1954 Olds through the "Famous Measured Mile" for a two-way average of 114.61 miles per hour as recorded and checked by NASCAR officials." One year later, on Feb. 24, 1955, he did it again with a speed of 114.686.

"My mom has albums filled with daddy's pictures and certificates," the younger Sosebee said. "I wish they were all here to see this and to enjoy the notority. My daddy took his tripper car and ran it against the modifieds in 1947. That was what started the stock car division."

Fourth Street will be renamed to honor NASCAR car owner Ted Chester, whose nephew lives on the street. Chester's car, a 1952 Hudson, driven by Ken Flock, won the championship in 1952.

It was exactly 50 years after Bernard Long won at Daytona that another famous native won that same July race and hoisted a championship cup William Clyde "Bill" Elliott. Later known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, Elliott won Daytona four times. He holds the track record for fastest qualifying speed at Talladega at 212.809 and Daytona International Speedway at 210.364 both set in 1987.

One year later, in 1988, Elliott won the NASCAR Championship, and he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America on Aug. 15, 2007.

"Bill's daddy (George Elliott) owned race cars and had different drivers," Pirkle said. "His dad was raised around Roy Hall, Lloyd Seay and Gober Sosebee."

The new address of the historic Dawsonville Pool Room, by the way, will be9 Bill Elliott Street South.

Two other streets will be named to honor Harry Melling and Roy Hall. Car owner Melling won Daytona four times and the 1988 NASCAR Championship with Elliott as his driver. Hall won Daytona three times in 1940, 1941, and 1946. He also won the National Championship in 1939.

NASCAR was formed nine years later in 1948.

Even with they heydays of moonshine running gone, Mayor Grogan may soon have to order another street sign one for Chase Elliott. Born Nov. 28, 1995, the younger Elliott raced in 40 series in 2012, winning 12 events and finishing in the top ten 38 times. He signed a three-year driver development contract with Hendrick Motorosports in February 2011. Shortly after his 16th birthday, he won the Snowball Derby and became the race's youngest winner, beating second place driver, D.J. Vanderley, by a record 0.229 seconds.

It was necessity that built the modified Fords of the 1940s, and it was the drivers of those cars running moonshine to the shot houses of Atlanta, that created the stock car racing industry and NASCAR as we know it today.

Had it not been for moonshine, Dawsonville likely would never have hit the world's racing maps.

On Aug. 5, the city council will vote to rename the streets. According to Mayor Grogan, the vote is a formality.

Dawson County Deputy Marshal Sgt. Robbie Irvin said the street-name changes have been entered with the post office and the county's 911 systems.

Old Street Name New Street Name

West 4th Street Harry Melling Street

West 3rd Street Lloyd Seay Streets North and South

West 2nd Street Roy Hall Streets North and South

West 1st Street Raymond Parks Streets North and South

East 1st Street Bill Elliott Streets North and South

East 2nd Street Bernard Long Street

East 3rd Street Gober Sosebee Streets North and South

East 4th Street Ted Chester Street

Streets that have North or South designations are separated by Hwy. 53