TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER - August 29, 2017

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER – August 29, 2017

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




The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame has announced the five racers that will be added to the list of nominees eligible for induction into the Hall in Dawsonville.


Four of the five on this year’s list have either raced at Senoia Raceway or worked there.


The late Bob Morris, a veteran of the early years at Senoia, is among the five as is the track’s current promoter Bill Massey, better known as Mayes during his time in the flagstand.  Debbie Lunsford-Love raced at Senoia during its asphalt days, and engine builder Gary Dingler has been both a crew chief and engine builder for many a Senoia racer, from legends like Leon Archer and Doug Kenimer to current stars like Clint Smith and Ricky Williams.


The fifth person added to the list is Camping World Truck Series team owner Billy Ballew.


I personally know all five, although I never got to see Bob Morris race.  I have spent many a night visiting with him at the track when his son Glenn Morris was just getting started.


Bob Morris, who died in 1991, was a die-hard Ford guy, and came along in an era when drivers built their own cars and pulled them up and down the road with tow bars attached to the family station wagon.  Bob’s other son, Robert has created a terrific website,, which is a must-visit site for anyone interested in the history of Senoia Raceway and Coweta Raceway.


Mayes Massey was the flagman in the 1970s, when I first started attending races on a regular basis.  He’s been a friend down through the years, and I respect what he’s done for Senoia the past few seasons.


I’ve spent far more time with Dingler than any of the others.  When I was in school at North Georgia College, I spent every free moment hanging out at the Elliott race shop, where Gary had his own space for building engines.


In 1977, at the age of 25, he built the engines that won two of the sport’s premier races.  Doug Kenimer won the World 100 with a Dingler engine, and Ronnie Sanders followed that with a Snowball Derby win with one of Gary ’s power plants.


I went to many an asphalt race where Gary was working as a crew chief – from Daytona International Speedway to places like Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn.


A lot of them were with Larry Raines, who raced at Senoia in the Limited Sportsman division in the late 1970s, doing the driving.


Gary was a brilliant strategist and a natural leader.  I would have done anything he asked of me back in those days.  He was serious about his racing, but he also made it fun.


I learned a lot of what I know about racing from Gary Dingler, and my approach to the sport has been greatly influenced by him.


Above all else, he’s always been supportive of the sport in general and its promoters and competitors.


There are lessons to be learned from him and all five of the people added to this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.  They’re a long ways away from being inducted at this point, but it’s an honor for them to be among the 50 people up for consideration this year.



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