Getting to the Track is a Journey in Itself

Sosebee (far left) & Crew after a victory in Gainesville Ga in 1946. The car was affectionately called "Old Knot" as it did *not* have a body panel that was straight

Getting to the track is a journey in itself


By Cody Dinsmore

Sometimes, the trip to the track is more exciting than what happens at the track!

Any time I find myself hauling a car or racecar, it usually turns out to be an adventure. Especially if it's an open trailer that puts the car on display for all to see.  It usually reminds me of one of my favorite stories of getting to the track involving Georgia Racing Hall of Famer and Dawsonville native, Gober Sosebee. It's a story thats far more exciting than what happened on track. 

Back in the early days of Stock Car Racing, a majority of racers flat-towed their cars to the track. Some just drove the racecar, and removed the headlights once they got to the track. Hall of Famer, Raymond Parks was known to have his cars ride on a flatbed truck!

Gober was of the group that would flat-tow his racecar behind the family sedan. One time in particular in the late 1940's on a trip to Daytona Beach was especially memorable, more so than the race itself. It was already night time by the time Gober was leaving Atlanta for Daytona. And of course at that time, I-75 and I-95 weren't even a thought yet. To help paint the picture, it was Gober and his wife, Vaudell, along with two of their friends. Gober had worked around the clock for a couple days between his day job at the garage and getting his racecar prepared to go, so needless to say, he needed some shut eye before he was to qualify his racecar the next day. He agreed to sleep in the back of the tow car, a 42' Buick, while the friend drove.

The only problem was, the friend that was driving now, had never actually towed anything before. Sometime in the early morning hours, Gober and the others in the back were awoken as the Buick went off the road. It then jack-knifed and the momentum and speed forced the rig up a slight hill and jumped an embankment. Imagine waking up to that! After assessing the situation, Sosebee figured the only way to get back on the road without a towtruck, was to back the Buick up, get a running start and jump back to the road. So that's what he did, with the racecar still hooked behind. While he did do exactly what he said he was going to and get back on the road, he busted the radiator in the process and tore off the front bumper. The racecar however, didn't receive a scratch.

So now, it's probably 3 or 4 am, the tow car is out of commission, the nearest service station is miles away and qualifying for the Daytona Beach race is later that morning. What would you do? Sosebee decided the best decision was to unhook his 39' Ford racecar from behind the Buick and swap the two. He moved the tow bar, and then hooked the broken Buick behind the racecar. Sosebee's wife and her friend would ride in the Buick and sleep while Gober pulled the rest of the distance in the Ford as there was only one seat in the racecar as well as being full of tools and spare parts, tires, etc.

As they continued on going through small towns, Gober noticed that some oncoming traffic would flash their lights at him or honk their horns or wave. It didn't phase the veteran racer, as he thought people were just waving at a racecar driving down the road, or that since the racecar had no lights, he had to use the lights from the Buick behind him to dimly illuminate the road in front. What he didn't know was that a track bar broke in the accident earlier causing the rear end of the Buick to shift side to side, which caused the tire to come right off the wheel. The ladies riding in the Buick first tried to honk the horn to tell Gober to pull over. Unfortunately, the racecar was very loud, so he didn't hear it. Next they tried to use the brakes to slow him down. Everytime Gober felt a little resistance, he would just apply more throttle to overcome that. As miles and miles progressed, sparks soon showered the road behind the Buick. Unfortunately for Gober, it can be hard to see out of the back of a 39 Ford Coupe as they were notorious for a small rearview mirror and two small rear windows. No side mirror either. Add that with the Buick right behind and he couldn't see the spark show following him.

As the sun started to rise and Daytona Beach was nearing, more and more cars and pedestrians were appearing. The ladies had nearly given up trying to get Gober to stop. There were still folks trying to wave him down, but he would just wave back as he thought it wasn't everyday you saw a racecar on the street. Finally at a stop sign, someone ran up to Gober's window and explained that he was dragging a car behind him instead of towing one.

They finally reached the sandy shores of Daytona and while they were there, Gober was able to repair the family car before the race. There is another story of when both Gober's racecar and his towcar were entered in a Daytona race, but that's a story for another time.

Whether you're a participant or a spectator, I'd bet nearly everyone has a humorous story about getting to and from the track. Often times, it's more exciting than what happened at the race itself.