December 14th - An Important Day to Early Georgia Stock Car History


By Cody Dinsmore

December 14th is an important day in early Georgia stock car racing for two reasons.

First and foremost, 76 years ago on this date, the first day of three meetings at the Streamline Hotel occurred in Daytona Beach, FL. This was the basis for the formation of NASCAR. 

NASCAR, the Billion dollar industry it has become some seven decades later, was hatched in a smoke filled bar-room called 'The Ebony Room' on a third story overlooking Highway A1A and Daytona Beach. Several residents of the Peach State and eventual Georgia Racing Hall of Famer’s were in attendance. 

Before NASCAR was officially formed, there had been several organizations pop up that tried to govern stock car racing, but they had either failed or more commonly, the promoter walked off with the money. AAA, who was the leading group governing open wheel racing, even dabbled in stock cars, but eventually abandoned the idea as stock car racing was 'dirty and full of rough necks, and not real racing'. Bill France himself had tried running two other sanctioning bodies prior to this, the NCSCC (National Championship Stock Car Circuit) in 1946 and the NSCRA (National Stock Car Racing Association) in 1947, but neither time was he the ‘top dog’

The problem France faced was that in the early days of Stock Car Racing, most tracks declared their own ‘National Champion’ or just didn’t follow a points structure or a generalized rulebook at all. For example - the first known organized stock car race in Georgia in 1938, at Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, was won by Lloyd Seay. He was subsequently declared “National Champion” after just one race. For the next several years, racers among the southern states and up the east coast with the most ‘points’ accumulated in an antiquated system could be declared champion. It was more-less “You’ve won the most races and the crowd favorite, you’re the champion” . 

During his own racing career, Bill France, competed against the fan favorite outlaws, and bootleggers turned racers. He knew if he was going to make this a profitable enterprise, he had to win over those daredevils and create a new organization to do so.

So, ‘Big’ Bill France requested a meeting of the minds of stock car racing’s top echelon be held at Daytona - thus far, the biggest event in stock car racing. Between two and three dozen men showed up. Everyone from promoters, drivers, owners and mechanics. At this meeting, Fonty Flock was formally awarded his Championship trophy and Ed Samples his runnerup trophy for 1947’s NSCRA Points Title.

In total, several individuals from the Peach State were in attendance.  Raymond Parks, along with his drivers Red Byron, Fonty Flock, his mechanic Red Vogt as well as Ed Samples of Atlanta, who was the 1946 National Stock Car Champion. With Samples was Bob Osecki & Bob Richards, both of whom fielded cars for Samples, separately, in 1946 and 47’.

France started the meeting and expressed an interest in making their hobby a legitimate business. Before WWll, stock car racing was a niche, mostly regional event. Following the war, stock car racing exploded in popularity. Bill France recognized the popularity and was preparing for the explosion no one saw coming. In fact, he was a co promoter of the very first race held at Greenville-Pickens Speedway on July 4th, 1946. On the morning of the event, he was so nervous he almost skipped on even going to his own event in fear of failure. Shockingly, 25,000 spectators showed up, well ahead of racetime. There were far more people than seats to put them. France could see early on, if promoted right and had the right funding, stock car racing could one day become as popular as America’s Favorite Sport - Baseball. 

As mentioned previously, there were numerous organizations hosting races, each with a different set of rules and points structures. France lobbied for a year end point fund composed of profits from each race of the season, eligible to drivers who exclusively competed with the series. Something unheard of for most of the drivers who at this point had grown accustomed to a promoter skipping out of distributing race winnings. 

During the meeting, officers were assigned. Ed Samples was the first technical chair. France himself was voted chairman with Bill Tuthill, secretary.  At the end of the three day affair, the group tried to decide on a new name to call itself. Red Byron suggested NSCRA (National Stock Car Racing Association) while Red Vogt offered NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). While some attendees liked that Vogt’s suggestion could roll off the tongue easier than the other, Byron’s suggestion won by 7 votes. Vogt then reminded the others that there already was a group called NSCRA in Georgia. Therefore, Red Vogt’s naming suggestion stuck, and the rest is history. 

Also discussed was what constituted as a ‘stock’ car. Bill France was determined that his organization be open to the common man with a common sedan. He already had planned a ‘Strictly Stock’ division fielded exclusively of new models, but would delay till the next year when Detroit automakers caught up on production. 

Raymond Parks, the Atlanta businessman, who could be picked out as the best dressed in attendance, had arrived in Daytona with his chief mechanic and two drivers. However, Raymond himself really wasn’t interested in what was going on behind closed doors in the Ebony Room of the Streamline Hotel. Instead, he waited outside the board room in the lounge, chatting with the Beauty Queens that France hired to keep his guests entertained.  It has been reported that Bill France went to Raymond first when he initially had the idea to hold this meeting. It’s been said that Parks himself paid to rent the hotel and host the group. You must remember that Bill France once was a driver on the famed Parks Racing Team before WWll and occasionally after. France knew he needed someone like Mr Parks on his side if he wanted NASCAR to succeed. While Parks had no interest in managing or governing the organization, he did want to see his investments succeed. While it's not highly documented, Parks was a big reason NASCAR survived it’s first couple of years - providing guaranteed purse money for drivers no matter the number of fans. He also provided his personal car on more than one occasion for the official pace car. 

By the end of day three of their meetings, the group had drawn up the inner workings of NASCAR, although it would not be officially incorporated till 6 days after it’s first event in February of 1948.  Red Byron, in a Raymond Parks owned car, wrenched by Red Vogt would become the series’ first winner, and by end of year, the first champion team.


Also of interest to December 14th, is the day Lloyd Seay was born in 1919 in Dawsonville Ga. As we’ve discussed before, Seay had a short but daring career in Stock Car Racing.  He only raced for a very short two and a half years, but he is still remembered and talked about some 82 years after his life was tragically cut short at the age of just 21 years old. Bill France, who we discussed earlier, was quoted later in life saying that Lloyd Seay was the most purest stock car driver he had witnessed. Seay was a daredevil that would wow the crowd in the stands, and the law enforcement on the roads. Like most southern racing drivers of the time, Seay honed his skills evading the law in a Ford Coupe loaded with booze, traveling speeds of 80+ mph down Georgia Highway 9 - at the time, the only direct route from the North Georgia Mountains to Atlanta. 

One of my favorite Seay stories that’s been told time and time again like a folktale, is one particular time that he was stopped by the local law for speeding. (different variations of the story will have a different location and monetary fine) The fine for speeding was a nominal $5, and Seay handed the deputy a $10 bill. As the officer was attempting to give Lloyd his change, he replied “Keep the change….I’m paying in advance. I’ll be back through later and I wont have time to stop”

Seay was declared National Stock Car Champion in the summer of 1941 after going on a hot streak of three major victories in a span of 9 days - Daytona Beach (his only win in his fifth attempt. He started 15th and was in the lead at the end of the first lap and never gave it up.) Highpoint, NC and Lakewood Speedway the following day.  Less than 24 hours after his biggest win, he was shot dead by a cousin back home in Dawsonville in a dispute over money owed for sugar needed for moonshine production. 

Another one of Seay’s cousins, Raymond Parks, who was his car owner on the racing circuits paid for an intricate Headstone that was placed in the Dawsonville Cemetary in Downtown Dawsonville. The 6 foot slab features not only an engraving of the championship trophy won the day before his passing, but also an engraving of his iconic #7 Racecar with a portrait of Lloyd encased in porcelain in the driver’s window. In 2019, on the 100th anniversary of Seay’s birth, I was honored to have cleaned the monument for the first time in decades and still today, looks as good as it did in 1941 when it was erected. A small token of my gratitude to the first ‘superstar’ of stock car racing. 

One can only wonder if Seay would have been present for the NASCAR meetings at the Streamline Hotel 6 years later had he lived. And if he had lived, how different the history books might be today.