Racing preservation society to hold annual induction ceremony, reunion

A two-day celebration of Augusta’s auto racing history is planned for Sept. 15-16.

 

The Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society will hold its 14th annual hall of fame induction and banquet along with other activities at Diamond Lakes.

The weekend will celebrate the drivers and others who made regular stops at Augusta International Raceway, which opened in May 1960 and closed in July 1970. The facility in Hephzibah had multiple tracks, including an oval, road course and drag strip.

The decade of racing featured plenty of legendary NASCAR drivers, including Richard Petty, Glenn “Fireball” Roberts, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and the Allison brothers, Bobby and Donnie.

Donnie Allison is among the five hall of fame inductees this year. The others are Bobby “Fireball” Bates, Bubba Pennington, Archie Graham and Ray Cagle. The Fred Harper Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Henry Jones, who founded the raceway preservation society.

Each hall of fame member will receive a special red jacket, said Harvey Tollison, one of the event’s organizers.

“We were giving away plaques, then we switched to jackets,” Tollison said. “They seem to really like those.”

The induction and banquet will be held Friday night at the Diamond Lakes Community Center. A racing reunion is scheduled for Saturday and will include book signings, driver autograph sessions and displays of vintage and current race cars.

Also Saturday, the preservation society will add two more granite benches to the 5W Kids Outdoor Learning Area. One will honor the late Gary B. Jones, a local race car driver and builder. The other will dedicate the monument area as the Rex White Motor Sports Memorial Plaza.

Although the event has attracted primarily a crowd from the Southeast, Tollison expects that to change this year. A group of vintage road racers from Ohio plan to attend.

“We’re having people coming in that we’ve never had,” he said. “It’s quite a range of people.”

IF YOU GO

What: Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society

Where: Diamond Lakes Community Center

When: Hall of fame banquet and induction ceremony, Friday, Sept. 15; racing reunion and dedication of granite benches, Saturday, Sept. 16

Cost: $20 for banquet

 

More