City of Residence: Byron
Occupation: Track coordinator, Middle Georgia Raceway
QUESTION: How did the coming Middle Georgia Racers Reunion start?
ANSWER: In 2010, we talked to guys from Columbia, S.C., who were doing Racers Reunions. They brought local drivers by who raced here and suggested we do one. Tim Thornton -- he owns our track -- and I went to see one then decided to do it. Our first was in 2011, so this is the third. It was the first event at the track since the last recorded race in 1984. It had been dormant all those years.
QUESTION: So there are similar events elsewhere?
ANSWER: Yeah. They began in South Carolina to bring tracks back to life and honor drivers of yesteryear who started the sport. Its also a way to contribute to a fund to help older drivers. We contributed to that, but this year our grand marshal is Richard Petty, number 43, and well be contributing to the Petty familys Victory Junction camp for chronically ill children. Were also working on getting a foundation to help save the track instead of opening another supermarket or something.
QUESTION: What can people expect?
ANSWER: Its really a family festival. Its a reunion for fans and drivers, and its a classic race car and regular car show. Its not a race, even though sometimes we do parade laps. That depends on safety factors year to year. Theres food, theres regular arts and crafts and things, so its not all racing. Theres something for the whole family, even those not into racing.
QUESTION: But obviously a racing theme.
ANSWER: Right, but directed toward the whole family. The best part to me is meeting and greeting the old drivers, seeing the cars and talking with other fans about the old days and what happened. Its fun seeing the kids enjoying the rides like the monster truck ride, and we actually have real helicopter rides. Pretty cool to see things from up there. And of course Richard Petty will be there mostly through the middle of the day. You cant beat that.
QUESTION: What era are the race cars from?
ANSWER: Mostly the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Another thing well have on display is an old replica moonshine still.
ANSWER: Racing and NASCAR got started by moonshine runners getting together on weekends to see who was fastest. And of course, this track started in 1966, and in 67 they found a moonshine still here. A lot of people think thats what closed the track, but its not. For a long time people ignored the moonshine thing, but its part of racing history and this tracks history.
QUESTION: The track does have history.
ANSWER: Back in the day, it was Grand National Racing and as big as Bristol and a lot of famous tracks. Then Winston got involved. They focused on fewer but bigger races. Before that we had 500s and racers like David Pearson and Donnie and Bobby Allison. Richard Petty raced here and won first in four races and placed in the top in eight. Plus throw in the rock festival and thats a lot of history.
QUESTION: When and where is the Racers Reunion?
ANSWER: Aug. 31 from 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) at the Middle Georgia Raceway on U.S. 41 in Byron. It costs $10, and kids 10 and under get in free. If you want to show your car, just bring it -- you dont have to pre-register. Were looking for a good group of cars and lots of fans. Last year 2,500 to 3,000 came. With The King here (Richard Petty), we could double that.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.