Dawson County’s Georgia Racing Hall of Fame hosted the inaugural Lakewood Speedway Reunion Saturday.
Hundreds of racers and race fans attended the event that celebrated Atlanta’s famed Lakewood Speedway racetrack and its 58 years of operation.
“I’m real pleased with how well the reunion went,” said the event’s organizer Gordon Pirkle, who estimated that nearly 300 people were in attendance.
“There were several racers there from all over. As well as spectators and anyone who had some connection to the track,” added Pirkle.
Pirkle said he had been wanting to plan a reunion for the historic racetrack for some time.
“We didn’t get in touch with everyone I would have liked to, but it’s been so long that many of the men who’ve raced on the track have passed on,” said Pirkle, who added that the reunion also served to recognize the more than a dozen drivers who lost their lives on the notoriously dangerous dirt track.
“One of the most infamous incidents occurred in the summer of 1946,” Pirkle said of the 1 mile dirt oval track first built for horse racing in 1915.
“(The track) was infamous for getting terribly dusty late in an event. With the dusty conditions, Robson (George Robson of England) couldn’t see Billy DeVore and ran into his car,” said Pirkle, adding that the wreck killed racers Robson and George Barringer of Texas, while wounding DeVore with a broken collarbone.
Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association President Marvin Mills unveiled a plaque honoring Lakewood Speedway and the drivers who lost their lives racing on it.
The plaque, along with the track’s flagman’s stand donated by racing legend Richard Petty, is currently on display at the hall of fame museum.
Pirkle said he is very pleased with the first Lakewood Speedway Reunion and hopes to make next year’s reunion even better.
“We learned a lot, this year being the first. We’re going to work on improving the food and the speaker systems for next year,” said Pirkle, who thanked Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association for making the reunion possible.
E-mail Adam C. Stapleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.