Augusta's racing heritage to be remembered this weekend

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 1:00 PM
Last updated 7:19 PM
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The Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society will add five new members to its hall of fame Friday night as part of this year’s annual celebration of Augusta’s racing heritage.

Augusta International Speedway, which operated from 1960 to 1970, attracted some of the biggest names in racing. The Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society's annual remembrance festivities will be held this weekend.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
Augusta International Speedway, which operated from 1960 to 1970, attracted some of the biggest names in racing. The Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society's annual remembrance festivities will be held this weekend.

All five inductees are former drivers who raced at the Augusta International Speedway, which opened May 1, 1960, and remained in business until July of 1970.

The Friday night banquet, which begins at 6 p.m. at Diamond Lakes Community Center, will be followed by Saturday’s Racers Reunion, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., also at Diamond Lakes, with vintage car displays, memorabilia and other festivities.

When the speedway opened, it was among the largest of its kind and routinely attracted the biggest names in the stock car circuit, including Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Bobby Allison – even Richard Petty.

This year’s inductees will be:

• Dink Widenhouse, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., began racing as a teenager and earned four feature wins in Augusta during the early 1960s.

• James Burnett, from Union, S.C., was a frequent competitor in his No. 12 silver and black car.

• Leonard Sharpe, from Columbia, S.C., took 15 Hobby Feature wins in Augusta, starting with six-cylinder couples and later racing small block NASCAR hobby cars.

• Jack Cosnahan, raised in Augusta’s “Frog Holler” area, built his own 1938 Chevy couple to race at the speedway and later built a pink and black 1957/55 Chevy to run when NASCAR outlawed the old coupes.

• “Big” John Arrington won several features in NASCAR’s hobby division as well as two track championships. His career was cut short due to a racing accident at Columbia (S.C.) Speedway, but remained active helping other drivers set up their cars until his death.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Annual celebration of the opening of Augusta International Speedway

WHEN: Friday: Raceway Preservation Society Hall of Fame induction banquet, 6 p.m., Diamond Lakes Community Center. Tickets are $20. Call (706) 829-6825 for more details. Saturday: Annual celebration, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Diamond Lakes, with events including a classic and custom car show, vintage race cars and family fun. Free admission.

Comments (4) Add comment
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Jake
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Jake 09/10/13 - 02:01 pm
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DVD

I ordered their DVD a couple of years ago and it was quite entertaining and informative. If any of you attend the banquet or reunion then get a copy of it. It was narrated by Harley Drew.

Sweet son
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Sweet son 09/10/13 - 05:58 pm
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Big John Arrington!!

Never saw him race but he was a big gentle giant! He would do anything for anybody! He was a selfless man!

Died too young but touched many lives!

September is Ovarian Cancer awareness month!

Know the symptoms of this silent killer!

zsaxt642
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zsaxt642 09/11/13 - 02:49 pm
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Big John and Tiny Lund

Big John reminded me of Tiny Lund, Another gentle giant on the raceway. He was friends with Cale Y

zsaxt642
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zsaxt642 09/11/13 - 02:52 pm
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Big John Arrington!!

Was Big John from Harlem?

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