Thursday, June 28, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRANDON REED, Editor & Publisher of Raceweek Illustrated


I was trying to use Google docs last night, when I found this article I had copied and pasted and saved from 2007. To Brandon Reed, it might have just been a job for the Jackson Herald, but to me, it was a very helpful thing dealing with my Daddy's terminal illness. Brandon sent him this DVD movie and 2 months later, Daddy died. I cried reading this last night.

My racing interest isn't just because I was raised at the Athens Speedway. My roots go back to the days of moonshining in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. My Daddy's Dad along with his uncle, were killed "hauling liquor" in Cleveland, GA. Turns out it was the competition who shot out his tires. Just prior to that, his sister and he were wrecked going into Athens, and my Dad was in critical condition for weeks with head injuries from that "accident." Daddy's cousin started a book but at Daddy's death, I don't know if he ever completed it.

I had no idea that I would wake up this morning and it be Brandon Reed's birthday!


With Gresham Mp and Brandon Reed at Georgia Racing Hall Of Fame.

By Brandon Reed


It’s not often you are lucky enough to run up on a time capsule.

Not the kind that’s buried at the corner of a courthouse, destined to be dug up sometime around the year 2025. The kind I mean is a snapshot into the not too distant past that lets you re-live memories of a fun time or places you remember.

The film “White Lightning Road” is just such a time capsule. The film was made in 1965, written, directed and produced by Ron Ormond, a low-budget filmmaker from Nashville.

Make no mistake, the film was no award winner. But, what it gives us is a window to stock car racing in the mid 1960s.

The movie was filmed mostly at the old Cumming Speedway, which was known as “the cow pasture”, due to it literally being cut out of a cow pasture.

The film revolves around our hero, a local bootlegger and racecar driver who gets himself mixed up with a big-time crook out of Atlanta (played by Ron Ormond himself). Along with the racing footage at the Cumming Speedway, we also see some neat footage of a small track “skeeter” racer taking laps at the Atlanta International Raceway.

Some of the acting was, to be honest, bad. The lead actor was Earl “Snake” Richards, who would star in two other films, “That Tennessee Boat”, and the infamous “The Girl From Tobacco Row.”

The main female lead is played by Arline Hunter, who’s other claim to fame was being Playboy magazine’s playmate of the month in August of 1954. She tried in this film to look and act like Marilyn Monroe, but succeeded mostly in acting like she had taken a crowbar to the head at some time in the past.

But forget the acting. That’s not the point of what makes this film a time capsule. It’s the people that helped to make it, and the people in the background.

Many local racers are featured in the film, including Shorty Hogan (a relative of MainStreet Newspapers, Inc.’s own Sharon Hogan), who has a speaking role in the film, Hugh Jones, Jefferson’s Tommy Roberts, and a racecar owned by former Hoschton mayor Glenn Evans. Local racing hero, Bud Lundsford, can be seen in some of the crowd shots.

Now, what’s great about this is that many of these racers are still with us. And that’s where the Georgia Auto Racing Hall of Fame Association (GARHOFA) comes into the picture.

Mike Bell, the historian for GARHOFA, has been working diligently to put on a showing of “White Lightning Road” at the Georgia Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville. The idea is to show the film in the hall’s theater room, with several of the folks who were involved in the making of the film in attendance. Every so often, the film will be stopped for question-and-answer sessions with the folks involved. It’s not only a glimpse back into the making of the film, but also a very unique keyhole look into the history of racing in Northeast Georgia.

Bell says he hopes to make this a common event at the hall, since several other racing films were made in the area. He would like to screen one of these films under similar circumstances every few months, with those who were involved in attendance. Other movies that he hopes to show include “Six Pack” portions of which were filmed in Braselton), “The Speed Lovers” (another mid-60s movie filmed in and around Atlanta starring NASCAR legend Fred Lorenzen), and “Corky” (an early 70s film made around the state starring Robert Blake of “Baretta” fame).

“White Lightning Road” is scheduled to be screened on Dec. 15 at the Hall of Fame and City Hall in Dawsonville (formerly “Thunder Road USA”), and will be open to the public free of charge.

How often do you get a free chance to look into a time capsule?