Jimmie B. Day, one of Dawsonville Moonshine Festivals biggest supporters, passed away yesterday, May 6.
Services will be held in his hometown of Easley, S.C., tomorrow, May 8, 2 p.m., at Robinson Funeral Home, 305 W. Main St. A viewing is scheduled for tonight, from 6-8 p.m. at the same location.
J.B., as he was known to his many friends, is the man to thank for the race cars that lined Highway 9 during the Moonshine Festival.
Hes just about the best friend I ever had, Georgia Racing Hall of Fame President Gordon Pirkle said. Their friendship has spanned more than 35 years. His race cars were the reason a lot of people came to festival.
Each year at festival time, Day and several dedicated friends would haul a dozen race cars from his home in Easley, S.C., to Dawsonville.
And when the engines fired up, the streets of Dawsonville rumbled.
Days collection included perfect replicas of cars owned or driven by David Pearson, Cotton Owens, Red Barons No. 22, and the car that won the first NASCAR race.
Hes probably the biggest racing fan I know, Pirkle said.
Pirkle recalled the first time Day met NASCAR pioneer and racing legend Raymond Parks.
J.B. didnt know it but one time in Daytona, he was sitting right behind Raymond Parks and talking about him, Pirkle said. Just then this man turned around and held out his hand and said, Im Raymond Parks.
Day hardly ever met a stranger. He and Parks became lifelong friends so much so that Day hosted birthday parties for him at least 16 years in a row. The annual festivities continued even after Parks passed away in 2010. Invitations arrived for several Dawsonville residents over the weekend, including Pirkle.
Day didnt have it easy growing up, Pirkle said. His mother passed away when he was 6 years old, and he frequently ran away from home.
One time, J.B. asked this junkyard owner if he could sleep in one of the cars, Pirkle recalls with a wide grin. The man said, Yep, you go on over and sleep with that DeSalle. But J.B. thought the man said sow and he said, I aint sleeping with no damn pig.
Days first stop in Dawsonville was on a whim. He was passing through on his way home from a race, and he recognized Gober Sosebee standing near his car, talking to someone.
He turned around and went back and introduced himself, Pirkle said. Thats how everything first got started. He came to Dawsonville every year after that and started bringing his cars.
Longtime friend and fellow race car builder, John Cordell of Easley, S.C., was with J.B. at the hospital when he passed.
The Lord is going to have fun hanging out with J.B., Cordell said. Im sure hes going to heaven because he had a heart of gold. He was a real special person, and if I hadnt met him, I never would have got to do all the things I did and meet all the good people in Dawsonville. He was just real special to me.
Im just not sure whats going to happen now, he said.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association. For more information, visit www.robinsonfuneralhomes.com, or call 864-859-4001.