On July 4th, racing fans were treated to a popular victory via Chase Elliott at Wisconsin's 4 mile Road America course. You've got to appreciate a popular driver claiming a dominating victory on America's birthday. It was also only the second time that the NASCAR Cup Series has raced there. The first, since 1956 when another Georgia driver, Tim Flock, took the win, driving a Mercury.
What stuck out most to me wasn’t that it was a July 4th win, and it wasn’t because it was Elliott's seventh career road course victory. What stuck out to me the most was the grit, determination and drive displayed by the No. 9 car after starting in the rear of the field. Sure, it wasn't the first time Elliott has had to persevere and drive from the back, it was comparable to when Chase won on the Charlotte Roval a few years back and had to pass every car in the last 40 laps.
Lloyd Seay, another racer from Dawsonville, many decades prior, was known to have the same drive and determination. One time in particular at Daytona in July 1941, saw a 21-year-old Seay do everything he could to win the race.
Leading up to this race, Seay had raced at Daytona three prior times, each time being denied victory while watching his cousin and fellow Dawsonville driver, Roy Hall win twice. Lloyd was a natural-born racer, learning how to maneuver a Ford Coupe by racing down Highway 9 to Atlanta with dozens of jars of corn liquor in his trunk. On the racetrack, his signature move was to enter the turn on his right two wheels and hold steady until the exit of the turn and back on the straightaway. It was literally like something out of Hollywood from decades later. And while Seay was good at showing off his skills, it did still take practice to perfect.
In the July race of 1941, he had already had his car 'bicycling' through the turn several times, much to onlookers’ delight. Late in the going, however, he simply just overdrove the turn and ended up flipping his car.
You have to remember that in this primitive form of Stock Car Racing, it was very dangerous and very unorganized. When Seay’s No. 7 Ford rolled over on its roof, several spectators rushed down to the racing surface and the wreckage to check on the driver. Seay yelled out "Help flip me over!" Half a dozen men dug their heels in the sand and helped to turn him back right side up, avoiding oncoming racecars in the process.
While Seay did not pull through to win the race, he did manage to finish in fourth, with a crushed roof nonetheless. That's determination! He would have to wait another month before his lone victory on Daytona Beach.
A side note is that the winner of that July race at Daytona in 1941 was Bernard Long, of Dawsonville. Long is not a name widely recognized as a racing legend, and that's mostly because of his very few entries into Stock Car Races.
It's been said that Long first competed in a race at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, finishing second. He was encouraged by his racing peers to make the trip to Daytona and see how he would fare. He wound up winning the race and would then take his earnings, invest in a Moonshine still and retire from racing; quite backward from most of that era.
So while Chase Elliott thankfully didn't flip his car on Sunday, it was a good showing of some true North Georgia fighting spirit.