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A tradition continued: GRHOF class of ‘22 full of state’s storied racing history
The six inductees stand together for a picture after the ceremony’s conclusion. - photo by Rio White

The state of Georgia’s storied history of local, regional and national racing was once again highlighted at the induction ceremony for the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame’s class of 2022 on Saturday Aug. 13.

Six individuals were chosen based on their contributions to racing and dedication to the sport during the course of their lives.

Those inductees were Phil Coltrane, Randy Couch, Henley Gray, Ed Massey, Billy McGinnis and Dale Singleton. Each inductee had a dedicated video highlighting his career. 

Hosted by WSB Radio traffic anchor and fill-in NASCAR pit reporter Doug Turnbull, the induction ceremony also featured introductory speeches by GRHOF Director Cindy Elliott and Dawsonville mayor Mike Eason. 

The late Coltrane, originally from Free Home, Georgia, was represented by his son Jerry at the ceremony. 

“He always had a real knack for being able to build and fabricate,” Jerry Coltrane said. “And as he kind of got more toward the end of his driving [career] he got into doing more maintenance and repair for people.”

The elder Coltrane was a dedicated racer from an early age — forgoing a personal vehicle to have his own race car at the age of 15.

Two years later, he won his first career race by leading every lap at Rome Speedway.

Successful both as a Late Model car driver and builder, Coltrane accumulated over 115 career wins. Later in his career, he moved into fabricating and developed the Raider Chassis.

While Couch had racing aspirations since childhood, he got his first taste of racing as a teenager when he and the owner of his workplace decided to go all in on a race car that was for sale. 

They soon went to their first race in Canton.

“We were standing there and he was asking me if I knew anything about racing. I said I had never drove a racecar in my life,” Couch said. “I finished the race in fifth place the first time I ever sat in a racecar.”

Couch was most well known for his success in the All Pro Series, winning consecutive championships in 1981 and 1982. 

One of his highlights in that series included a fifth-place finish in a race that included the likes of Bobby Allison, Dick Trickle and Rusty Wallace.

Gray got his start out on dirt tracks in Rome before quickly becoming successful all over the southeast. 

After a decade of racing on dirt, Gray earned his first Grand National appearance in 1964 and would start 38 races by the next year.

1966 would prove to be his best season, finishing fourth in the Grand National points standings — earning four top-5 and 18 top-10 finishes.

“First time I went to Daytona I ran an ARCA race. I didn’t know nothing about what to do,” Gray said. “I’ll tell you what though, the first time I went down the frontstretch into pit road to get out on the track, I broke into a grin. I was grinning so hard it hurt my jaws.”

Massey was a prolific car owner, mechanic and promoter whose career crossed paths with many fellow members of the GRHOF.

 As owner and crew chief, Massey won numerous races and championships in north Georgia. He would also become part-owner of West Atlanta Raceway in the 1970s. 

At the induction representing the late Massey was his son Eddie, who described one of his father’s best accomplishments as winning the Dixie nationals in ‘81 and ‘83 with his son Stan. The father-son duo also won 18 straight races at Dixie Speedway.

McGinnis enjoyed runs in multiple racing divisions in the 1970s, including the Winston Cup Series. Two of his biggest career wins came at South Alabama Speedway in 1979 and Lanier Speedway in 1987.

He also experienced success in the All Pro Series during the 1980s with three wins and 27 top-10 finishes.

“I won the Bama 300 down in Birmingham and the first Bud Bowl down at Lanier,” McGinnis said. “But I think sitting on the pole at Atlanta in the Southern Sportsman series has got to be the highlight of my life.”

Singleton was an accomplished motorcycle racer known at the time as ‘The Flying Pig Farmer’ — in a nod to his girlfriend’s father who got Singleton to help him feed pigs. 

Already having won an amateur championship before graduating high school in 1973, he took just five more years to win his first Grand National road racing championship. 

He would also win the Daytona 200 in 1979 and 1982.

The late Singleton’s brother Spencer spoke at the induction ceremony on his behalf.

“My dad said that we were going to bring a pig to Daytona in 1979,” Singleton said. “Once [Dale] won that race and we took Elmer [the pig] to victory lane and Dale drank champagne, it was fabulous.”