Lifelong fan and one-time driver James Bolt "JB" Day once rode his bike all the way from South Carolina to watch a race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta. He was 11 at the time.
"He was about the biggest fan racing ever had," said longtime friend Gordon Pirkle. "He did more for preserving the heritage of racing than anybody I could think of."
Day died Monday at the age of 80.
Renowned as a racing historian in his hometown near Greenville, S.C., he owned a racing museum and had a number of cars on display, including a restored 1939 Ford driven by the late Gober Sosebee of Dawson County to three checkered flags on the old Daytona course. Day, in a sense, adopted Dawsonville as a second home.
"They have a room down at the Comfort Inn called the JB Day Room, because he's in Dawsonville so much,"Pirkle said.
It was Day that can take much of the credit for the Mountain Moonshine Festival being recognized as having one of the biggest collections of racecars and hotrods on display at one time.
"There ain't no doubt about it. The Moonshine Festival wouldn't be near as big as it is today if it wasn't for JB Day. He's the one that started bringing the old racecars into town," Pirkle said.
"It was JB that brought down his racecars and set them out on display at the festival on the square. We started with four '40 Fords and three of his racecars and one of Bill Elliott's, one of Gober Sosebee's and that old racecar of mine. That's how it all got started."
The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame recognized Day's contributions to preserving motorsports history by presenting him with the Annie Dean Samples Spirit Award in 2011.
"JB, he is the biggest racing fan there is," Pirkle said.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, S.C.