As the son of a race car driver, it is no wonder that Jimmy Spencer went on to become one of NASCAR’s most well-known figures over his 30-year racing career.
From his first victory in the Late Modified division at the Port Royal Speedway in 1976 (the same track his father Ed “Fast Eddie” Spencer, Sr. started his career) to his final victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at New Hampshire in 2003, Spencer’s driving style and personality earned him the nickname “Mr. Excitement.”
“He has all these great stories from his years in the sport,” said Gordon Pirkle, president of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. “It is easy to see how he got the name ‘Mr. Excitement.’”
Continuing to live up to that title, Spencer has been named Grand Marshal of the 51st annual Mountain Moonshine Festival.
“I’m familiar with the area,” Spencer said. “I raced with Bill [Elliott] back in ‘94 for Junior Johnson, but this will be my first visit.”
It was in 1994 that Spencer won two races over a three-week time span, capturing the checkered flag at Daytona’s Pepsi 400 and Talladega’s Die Hard 500.
These wins, along with his 12 victories in NASCAR’s Xfinity series and one Truck Series victory, puts him on a short list of drivers to have won a race in all three of NASCAR’s top series.
Spencer was also dominant in the NASCAR modified series at the beginning of his career, as he won Rookie of the Year honors at the Shangri-La Speedway in 1979 and went on to take back-to-back track championships in 1982 and 1983, and then again in 1986 and 1987.
He has been named ninth on NASCAR’s all-time Top-10 Modified Drivers.
Having still not officially announced his retirement, Spencer last raced in both Poconos races in 2006 with Furniture Row Racing.
“I still love it [NASCAR], still watch it, but the sport got away from itself in engineering and costs,” Spencer said. “We have a future with a good mix of veteran drivers, middle of the road guys and some good young drivers.”
Introduced to the Mountain Moonshine Festival and Car Show by his friend Jacky Jones, with whom he sometimes travels to antique car show, Spencer said he was immediately interested in attending the event.
“I love cars. I love to talk to people about their cars,” Spencer said. “There is a history behind every car. ‘This was my grandpa’s car’ or, ‘I found this car in a garage and I fixed it up’. They really are pieces of art. When you think about what the moonshiners did with these cars… it was special.”
Another passion in Spencer’s life is his family as he just recently became a grandfather for the second time with the birth of Tristan at the end of the summer. His oldest grandson, Hudson, will turn two in November and Spencer is eager to share his love of cars and racing with them both.
“Hudson already has his car,” Spencer said. “It’s a 1954 Hudson Hornet, like the Flock brothers used to race. Now I just have to find Tristan’s car.”
The 51st annual Mountain Moonshine Festival and Car Show will be held in downtown Dawsonville this weekend, Oct. 26–Oct 28.