Hundreds see NASCAR driver David Ragan in Perry

Middle Georgia native and NASCAR driver David Ragan visits with fans in Perry

wcrenshaw@macon.comSeptember 4, 2013 

PERRY -- NASCAR driver David Ragan, a Unadilla native, got some home cooking last week before competing in the AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Hundreds came to see Ragan on Thursday for his annual Fan Day at David Ragan Ford. He was joined by fellow driver David Gilliland, his teammate at Front Row Motorsports. In May at Talladega Superspeedway, Ragan pulled off one of the most dramatic wins of the year when Gilliland pushed him to the lead on the last lap. Gilliland finished second, and it was hailed as a victory for the underdog in a sport dominated by well-heeled teams.

Ragan’s father, former NASCAR driver Ken Ragan, estimated that about 1,000 people showed up at the Fan Day, which he said was twice as many as last year.

Ragan’s 2012 car was on display, and the car he raced in Sunday was there but fans didn’t get to see it. It was tucked away in the upper compartment of the car hauler.

“His crew chief would kill us if we tried to unload it,” Ken Ragan said.

He said fans came from as far as Texas and Maryland for the event.

David Ragan signed autographs and spoke with fans throughout the afternoon. He said winning in Talladega was important.

“The Talladega win was a big win for Front Row Motorsports, myself personally and my career,” he said. “To win anywhere is big but Talladega is one of the premier tracks in the circuit and to win there is a big deal.”

Asked if he expects to return with Front Row next year, Ragan said “I’m not 100 percent sure. Front Row Motorsports has been good to me the last couple of years and I’d love to be back with those guys if all the parts of the puzzle works out.”

Ragan is a Shriner and many were at the event, which raised money for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Tommy Hilldebrand, of Senoia, is a Shriner, but that’s not the only reason Ragan is his favorite driver.

“He’s just a good kid,” Hilldebrand said.

Hilldebrand watched the Talladega race on TV and described the scene at his house when Ragan pulled out the win.

“Everybody had a fit,” he said. “It got loud around the house and the telephone was ringing off the hook.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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