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This Week in Racing History: Dirt Tracks and Dawsonville, It’s in the DNA
Racing History Column 1
Cars race at the Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, Georgia in 1949. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

Last week, the NASCAR community got to see something for the first time in over 50 years of racing — a cup series race on dirt. 

While the race offered positive but mixed reviews from fans and competitors, it was definitely reminiscent of a bygone era. Sure, you can turn to many of the big dirt racing series or visit many of the great local dirt tracks, but there's just something different about the top NASCAR drivers tackling the dirt with the same car that they would race normal paved tracks with. They weren't out there in dirt late models or this or that, they were out there in slightly modified versions of the normal Bristol car, minus a splitter, different tires and smaller spoiler for the most part.

This story continues below. 

Racing History 2
Drivers Gober Sosebee, Ed Samples and Roscoe Thompson race in Columbus, Georgia, in 1949. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

What we got, whether you enjoyed the race or not, was a totally unique experience. The way the cars were bouncing through the turns and sliding it sideways into a turn, as well as the terrible dust, could make one think you were watching something from decades before. 

And while our hometown driver, Chase Elliott, was unable to bring back a new trophy this time around, he definitely would not have been the first person from Dawsonville to win a NASCAR race on dirt. Gober Sosebee of Dawsonville, who had hundreds of racing wins to his name, only has two NASCAR Cup wins credited to him. He won in 1952 in Augusta, Ga., driving a Chrysler, and in 1954 in Macon, Ga., driving an Oldsmobile. As most tracks were back then, both were on dirt. 

We could go one step further with Raymond Parks, who was also born in Dawsonville. Parks, who was often called the 'Godfather of Stock Car Racing', was the team owner for the car that won the first-ever NASCAR sanctioned race in 1948, as well as the first two Championships in 1948 and 1949. All of the tracks at that time were dirt or sand, as the first paved track for Nascar didn't appear until Darlington opened in 1950. There's a lot more Dawsonville connection with Darlington, but that's for another time. 

Next March, Bristol is getting covered with dirt again. Hopefully, we'll not only see some great racing but also perhaps Dawsonville can reclaim their roots in NASCAR dirt racing.