TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER

Senoia Raceway fans, drivers, crew members and family can look forward to this new weekly blog from journalist Rick Minter.  Rick has been reporting on motorsports at Senoia Raceway and elsewhere since 1976.

Minter

 

 

When it comes to writing stories, my dad, Jim Minter, is the Richard Petty of the family. I’m the Kyle.

 

He has a way with words like none other. He covered all kinds of racing back in the 1950s, 60s and 70s and went on to become the editor of the big Atlanta newspapers.

 

Back in 1990, he wrote what I consider one of the best columns ever about auto racing.

 

Here’s part of what he had to say back then. I’m sure even at age 85 today he wouldn’t change a word.

 

“I sat at tracks across the South, tight dirts and high banks, and understood how we won World War II. Patton, MacArthur, Eisenhower, Bradley tipped the scales because they had a sprinkling of sergeants, corporals and privates made of the same stuff as the drivers and car builders and pit crews you meet at race tracks. Ordinary Americans who are extra-ordinary. Men of courage, intelligence, endurance and skill. Men who find a way to do whatever has to be done.

 

“Driving home on weekend afternoons, I see the pickups towing scrubbed and numbered racers toward Senoia, Douglasville, Rome and other tracks. I know of the sweat, the hard-earned dollars – and love – that has gone into their preparation. I know of the dreams.  I know about the men who build them and those who drive them – and the women who put up with them. I see and I give a silent salute. These are the real Americans, the real Southerners. Ordinary people who are extra-ordinary. The salt of the earth.”

 

I thought about that column when I heard that Gene Hardy had died. He was exactly the kind of salt of the earth person my dad – and I – respect so much.

 

I remember Gene and his red Chevys with the No. 2 on the sides. He was a mainstay at Senoia, and Newnan and West Atlanta/Seven Flags in Douglasville.

 

He was a working man who raced for a hobby and was very good at it.

 

Last summer, I spent some time visiting with Gene, who I hadn’t seen in a while.

 

We sat on the tailgate of a pickup parked on the fence outside Turn Two.

 

I thought we’d talk about the races he’d run – and won – in the past, about the good old days of Senoia in the 1970s and 80s when he was in his prime.

 

Instead, he wanted to talk about something he was much more proud of – his family.

 

The real joy of his life didn’t have anything to do with checkered flags and trophies. It was a wife, Joyce, who stood by him through thick and thin, supported him in his racing and other ventures and helped him build a family.

 

He spoke of the kids, the grandkids, the great-grandkids, and other extended family.

 

I realized that night that Gene Hardy really was a great person. Extra-ordinary. The salt of the earth.

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