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Grand marshals memory to be honored at festival
I-Festival Grand Marshal pic
Charlie Mincey

Former moonshine runner and member of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame 2004 class, Charlie Mincey was chosen in March to be the grand marshal for the 49th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival this weekend.

Mincey passed away April 7 at the age of 84 and his widow, Carolyn Mincey will be in town to lead the parade and carry the memory of her husband as he is honored as grand marshal.

The racing pioneer got his first speeding ticket at the age of 12 after securing his driver's license early while working with his dad Roy in his body shop in Atlanta.

Two weeks later he picked up the ticket doing 85 mph in downtown Atlanta.

Racing must have been in his blood.

Mincey was inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in 2004 and his 1939 moonshine car is currently on display at the museum.

"I first started coming to Dawsonville when I was about 14," Mincey said during his last interview. "I was hauling some ‘shine back to Atlanta. I did that for about five years outta here. I got married and quit doing it and went to racing."

Over the course of Mincey's five-year moonshine running career, he was chased frequently and even shot at, but he never lost a load.

"It never did get scary until right there when they started shooting," he said. "I didn't mind being chased, but I didn't like being shot at.

"I guess you might say before racing I had a little experience running on dirt and asphalt both."

Mincey raced for 33 years all over the southeast, on both dirt and asphalt tracks. He won track championships at Toccoa, Athens and Atlanta's Peach Bowl Speedway.

In 1955 he won the Georgia State Modified Championship.

"His career spanned the longest, most interesting part of racing," said Gordon Pirkle, president of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and owner of the Dawsonville Pool Room. "He raced with pioneers like Gober Sosebee."

While he raced, Mincey worked in multiple paint and body shops but never on a racecar.

"I never did work on a racecar. If I wrecked it in a race, I'd go home and I didn't see until it was ready to race again. Never owned a racecar," he said. "All I wanted to do was drive them and that was all I did."

Mincey and his wife of nearly 65 years, Carolyn, had been coming to the Moonshine Festival since it began and though he had been in the parade many times over, he said he was looking forward to being up front.

"I guess I get to ride in the parade this time up front instead of in the back," Mincey said of his role as grand marshal.

"He was so proud to have been named grand marshal," Pirkle said.

"I'm glad to see Charlie recognized," said K.A.R.E. for Kids president David McKee.

The nonprofit organization, that provides Christmas and other necessities to underprivileged children, puts on the festival each year as its biggest fundraiser.

The Moonshine Festival begins Friday afternoon in downtown Dawsonville.