Dawsonville, Georgia is known for two things – moonshine and stock car racing. Outsider’s Wes Blankenship decided to investigate this stock car capital of the world.
Many places claim to be the birthplace of stock car racing, but Dawsonville may the real deal. The town has churned out several stock car drivers. For instance, Roy Hall, Lloyd Seay, Gober Sosebee, Bill Elliott, and Chase Elliott all hail from Dawsonville. That’s all the more surprising considering Dawsonville only had around 2,536, according to a 2010 Census.
Blankenship spoke with Dawsonville’s own Gordon Pirkle to get to the bottom of things. Pirkle is a bit of a local legend and also a historian on all things stock car. After all, they don’t call him Mr. Dawsonville for no reason.
According to Pirkle, Dawsonville’s stock car driving started due to moonshine in the area. People used to run moonshine across the state during the Prohibition Era. One afternoon, the drivers met up and decided to have a little fun. They bet which car was the fastest. And according to Pirkle, stock car racing was born on that day.
“A group of liquor guys got together one Sunday evening down in the river bottoms, about four miles south of Dawsonville. Down in the old cornfield. And they were actually betting on who had the best driver. Word began to get out about it and people started showing up,” he said.
Dawsonville’s Claim to Fame
So does NASCAR have Dawsonville to thank for creating the sport? Well, anything to do with the past is clouded in murkiness. Racing, after all, stretches back as far as humans have had legs. But automobile racing is relatively new considering the entire scope of human history.
Gordon Pirkle certainly believes the claim. In fact, he often argued with a NASCAR Hall of Famer on just that fact. You can count the late Junior Johnson among the deniers of the claim. Johnson used to run moonshine himself back in the day. He later became a NASCAR legend thanks to his driving skills. For Johnson, he believed the sport started in North Carolina instead.
Pirkle revealed that he and Johnson remained on separate sides of the issue. But Pirkle eventually found photographic evidence to stake his claim. He found a vintage photo of drivers racing in Ford Model- A’s. The vehicle was manufactured from 1927 until 1931.
So while stock car driving may or may not have started in Dawsonville, there were early drivers in Georgia.
“I know for a fact it started in Dawson County in Dawsonville Georgia,” Pirkle said.