Talladega Alabama - Where Dawsonville's Fastest Go


By Cody Dinsmore

Talladega Alabama - the largest track on the Nascar schedule and site of the most recent Cup Series race this past weekend. There is quite alot in common that Talladega and Dawsonville share, and it's not just that they're both small towns in the south. Several Dawsonville natives have gone to try and tame the track, and to see just how fast they can cover 2.66 miles.

The first one to come to mind when you hear Talladega and Dawsonville is none other than 'Awesome Bill from Dawsonville' himself, Bill Elliott. Talladega was the track that helped Bill truly become "Awesome". Back in the 80's, while the track was known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway, Elliott would obliterate the competition on more than one occasion. He won 6 straight pole awards from 1985 and 1987, breaking his own speed record on several occasions. His pole run for the 1987 Winston 500 stills stands today at 212.809 mph.  He would capture 8 total poles, with the other two, coming years later. While he only would win two races at the track, the most memorable by far was the 1985 Winston 500. It was the race where he went against all odds and brought the Coors Thunderbird back from two laps down under green! After setting a then new track record in qualifying, Bill led early, but by lap 48, his car was smoking as it was coming into the pits. His quick thinking brother and crew chief, Ernie, saw the problem and the crew replaced the oil pump belt, but it took nearly two laps to do so. They sent Bill back out, now in danger of nearly losing another lap. Somehow, over the next 110 laps, Bill made up nearly 10 miles on the field and retook the lead by passing the leaders once more. Not long after he took the lead back, the caution flew, which really was needed 50 laps prior. Bill would go on to win the race in one of the most dominant performances Nascar had ever seen.

The year prior, another Dawsonville driver found himself with a successful run at the Alabama oval, but was cut short of victory. Second generation driver, David Sosebee, competed in a part time schedule in both the ARCA Series and Nascar Cup Series. Sosebee was a true independent that relied on used parts, volunteer crew, and local sponsors. At the first Talladega race of 84', Sosebee led for two laps and finished 6th in the Arca race. When the tour returned for the summer race, Sosebee was ready to prove himself. He had bought a used ex-Tim Richmond driven, Pontiac LeMans that raced in the cup series the year before and had won at Pocono in Old Milwaukee livery. Now renumbered from #27 to  #81, Sosebee would start 7th on the field but managed to take the lead by lap 6. For the next 50 laps it was the David and Davey show. Future star and Hall of Famer, Davey Allison would swap the lead back and forth with Sosebee as they ran away from the other competitors. When you look at the race statistics, it must have been one heck of a race to watch - Sosebee would lead for two laps, then Allison for three, then Sosebee for four laps and so on. There were only three leaders for the whole race, Sosebee, Allison, and eventual winner, the legendary Red Farmer. Later on in the race, Allison, in his Miller sponsored car would blow an engine, leaving Sosebee in the lead and far ahead of his next closest competitor. As fate would have it, a caution flew late in the event, and David had lost all gears but 4th. While other competitors could quickly accelerate up to speed at the green flag,  it would take Sosebee about a lap to fully get back up to speed and by that time,  the draft was lost. In the record book, it shows the #81 Sosebee Racing Pontiac would finish 18th and led 22 laps, but you have to know the backstory of the race to truly appreciate it. David would run well at the high banked track, especially for usually being in an underfunded car and being able to run with the more funded ones. He would record another top 10 at Talladega with a 4th place finish driving a Ford sponsored by Bill Elliott Ford/Mercury in the spring race of 1988, again, won by Red Farmer.

Bringing us back to the 21st Century, Dawsonville has yet again two more drivers that have tried their hand at Talladega - Chase Elliott and Spencer Davis. The latter finished third in his only start on the track in an ARCA race in 2017, while the second generation Elliott has two Cup series victories, in 2019 and 2022. This past Sunday however, luck just wasn't on his side as he would finish 15th, snaking past the accident coming to the checkered flag.

Editors Note - parts of this story was originally published in an April 27th, 2021 edition of the Dawson County News