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Racing pioneer named Moonshine Festival grand marshal
I-Grand Marshall Mincey mug

When Charlie Mincey got his first speeding ticket at the age of 12, he must have known racing was in his blood.

Mincey had managed to get his driver's license while working with his dad, Roy Mincey, out of his body shop in Atlanta. Two weeks later he picked up his first speeding ticket doing 85 mph in downtown Atlanta.

It took a long time for him to finally slow down.

Now the racing pioneer has been selected as grand marshal for the 49th annual Mountain Moonshine Festival in Dawsonville in October.

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

"I first started coming to Dawsonville when I was about 14," Mincey said. "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, have been coming to the Moonshine Festival since it began and though he's been in the parade many times over, he's 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.

Mincey retired from racing in 1980, but he hasn't lost the drive.

"I did get to go to Darlington (Raceway). I was 79. This friend of mine has got a modified ‘55 Chevrolet. And they were going to let us old timers get in and run. It wasn't no racing, just practice. So I could get out twice in a day and run for 20 minutes. They timed me going around the track out there. I just made a few laps and I was running 150."
When he crawled in that day he hadn't been in a car in 27 years.

"We did that for three years in a row and then they stopped it. That was the last time I was in a racecar. It was a lot fun," Mincey said.

"I still go to the races. I go watch ‘em and I have a feeling I would like to get back out there. I feel like I could still drive if I got out there."

"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.

This year's Moonshine Festival will be held October 21-23 in downtown Dawsonville.