The Time That Both The Racecar & Hauler Entered a Race

By Cody Dinsmore


Yes, but probably not what you're thinking.

I’m not meaning that a Kenworth truck got out there on track with cup cars. And yes, back in the 80’s there was an actual racing series called the ‘Great American Truck Race’ that raced bob-tail semi’s around tracks like Atlanta International Raceway (now AMS), Texas World Speedway, Pocono and a host of other speedways and short tracks. If you’ve ever seen the opening scene of Smokey & the Bandit ll, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 

Anyway, today’s story doesn’t have anything to do with a truck, but it does feature the hauler.  

Back in March of 1947, Pioneer racer and Hall of Famer, Gober Sosebee, had driven down to Daytona Beach to compete in the annual February race. He would flat-tow his 1939 Ford Racecar down with his trusty 1942 Buick tudor sedan. (For those who aren’t familiar, think of a motorhome, pulling a small car) This was well before the days of flatbed trucks and enclosed trailers. Heck, some people even drove their racecars to the track, then removed the headlights, added a number and went racing!

 Among those who traveled with Sosebee, was another Dawsonville driver, Guy Rouse, who was a well respected moonshine tripper. At the time, he was a relative novice when it came to racing on the track. He had made several starts, but wasn’t considered a master.

Back in the days of racing on the beach, qualifying times were set by running a standing mile on the sand. The actual track was four miles in length - two miles on the sandy shores, and two miles on highway A1A. However, city officials would not block off A1A until the day of the race.

After Gober had unloaded all his tools and spare parts he had brought and had tinkered with his flathead Ford to his liking, he turned to his friend, Rouse, and asked if he’d pilot the racecar for a dry run. The racecar did not have a working speedometer, so Gober hopped in his Buick (street car) and had planned on running beside Guy in the racecar to get a rough gauge on the top speed the racecar would achieve. Guy climbed in the racecar and brought the flathead V8 to life. He led Gober out to the hard packed sand straight-a-way and began to raise his speed. Once he reached third gear (Most cars of the time were only 3 speeds) and realizing he was maxed on his speed, Gober then found that his engine in the Buick wasn’t working near as hard and “still had some go left”.  Whereas the Ford racecar was topping out, the Buick would continue to climb in speed at comfort. Afterall, it was just a regular passenger car with a big engine. The mighty Buick ‘Straight 8’ engine was definitely something to consider. 

So before official time trials started, Sosebee formulated a plan - he’d enter both his racecar AND the tow car! He would let Guy Rouse pilot the racecar, and Gober would stick with his own Buick, with a number painted on the door with shoe polish. He figured with two cars, he’d obviously have a better shot at winning, or at the very least, earning more prize money. And should one car fall out during the race, he had a backup to finish.

Gober was no stranger to the Buick brand. Sure his racecars had mostly been comprised of Ford Coupes and Sedans powered by the famed Flathead V8, but Gober had also competed in the summer Daytona race the year prior driving a Buick convertible. The Buick Straight 8 might not have the low end torque the Ford did, but the top end speed on a track as long as Daytona Beach was something to consider, albeit a much heavier car. 

Nonetheless, two entry forms were entered by Sosebee. 

During the race, fellow Georgian, Bob Flock, the eldest of the stock car racing Flock Family, would pilot his Raymond Parks owned #14 Ford to victory. He’d lead all 30 laps of the 96 mile contest to his first of two straight Daytona wins. 

Gober’s last minute decision to enter two cars paid off. He would finish 5th, in a car a day prior was not intended to perform as a racecar. His actual racecar, piloted by friend, Guy Rouse, would end up just two spots behind in 7th place. 

Rouse, who made two prior starts at Daytona, would never return as a competitor. Sosebee, on the other hand would, and would eventually take the top prize in the 1950 Modified race and the 1951 Sportsman race. He would also enter a slightly newer Buick sedan (1947 model) in the first Nascar sanctioned race at Daytona in February 1948. It is thought that Gober was the first Nascar driver to enter what was at the time to be considered a ‘late model’, as most in Nascar’s first year ran pre war cars. Nascar would eventually unveil the Strictly Stock (now Cup Series) in mid 1949, open to all late model entries.

Gober Sosebee earned his place in the history books with a list of accomplishments and stories such as this. To read about another trip to Daytona when he had to tow his tow car with the racecar to Daytona, click here