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Banquet remembers racers
Local helping hands honored for service
2 GRHOF Banquet pic1
John Benny Benefield polishes his favorite car in the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, an old 40s Ford owned by racing legend Gober Sosebee. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Each year, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame inducts a new class into its hall of legends.

Ask any die-hard racing fan who drivers such as Gober Sosebee, Lloyd Seay and Bill Elliott are and they will answer right away.

But what about names such as John Benefield?

Known by his friends as "Benny," Benefield is the 2014 winner of the Volunteer of the Year award for the hall of fame.

"The volunteers that help here really stand out. They are here around the clock doing what needs to be done," said David Sosebee, presenter and son of racing legend Gober Sosebee. "But there is one that has really stood out this year. He never complains and he's always here when you need him."

Benefield said he was shocked when his name was announced on the stage.

"It was surprising. I grew up around racing, so anytime I'm around anything that has to do with racing, I'm happy," he said. "It's a joy to me to talk to the people that come in here and to meet the old racecar drivers and just talk to people and see where they come from and how they've heard about the place. I just enjoy hearing the stories."

Benefield said he didn't think it was right, though, for him to get the spotlight.

"Everybody that volunteers here is totally deserving," he said. "A lot of people put a lot of time in here."

Also winning awards this year were Sam Bailey with the Annie Dean Samples Spirit Award and Rick Mentor won the President's Award.

The Dawson Community News was awarded the Jimmy Mosteller Media Award, named for a member of the initial group that helped establish the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

An ambassador to the racing community, he announced and helped promote racing events across the country. He passed away in 2012.

The 2014 Driver of the Year was, for a second year in a row, NASCAR rising champion Chase Elliott, son of racing legend Bill Elliott and 2014 Nationwide Champion.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Driver of the Year award is determined by votes from prominent motorsports journalists, who are asked to choose a racer from the state of Georgia who competes on any level, in any form of motorsports, whose accomplishments over the past year they feel qualifies them for the award.

The 2014 inductees were Leon Archer, Charlie Burkhalter, Julius Hughes, Jack Pennington and Roscoe Smith.

The men were nominated for their contributions to Georgia's motorsport's heritage.

Finally, the much-anticipated 1937 Gibbon Fiberglass Ford Coupe winner was announced at the banquet. While not present, Bill Dixon of Loganville walked away with a former piece of Bill Elliott's private collection.

When he came to pick the car up on Monday, he said he could barely contain himself when he was called.

"When they told me I had won, I couldn't believe it," he said. "I started crying. This is a beautiful piece."

The car was built in the late ‘80s and has a 356 cubic inch 351 Ernie Elliott-built engine.

Elliott donated the car to be raffled off to raise money to support the Dawsonville History Museum.