RAYMOND PARKS

Before the Alabama Gang, there was a Georgia Gang, and Raymond Parks was its leader. Raymond owned the cars, Red Vogt prepared them, and Red Byron, Bob Flock, Fonty Flock, Roy Hall, Ed Samples, Lloyd Seay, Jack Smith, and Gober Sosebee drove them.

Raymond, who owned the Hemphill service station in Atlanta, became involved in racing when his cousins, Roy Hall and Lloyd Seay, asked him to sponsor their race cars. Hall and Seay were so successful that Raymond added new cars and new drivers.

Raymond is at the top of everyone's list of champions. He came to win, and he hired the best to help him. "I don't remember anybody back then racing cars like he did. He did everything first class. The cars had showroom finishes every race. There was never a fender bent that wasn't replaced," recalls Cotton Owens.

Raymond entered the March 1940 beach race with Roy Hall as his driver. When the race leader, Joe Littlejohn, spent two minutes in the pits, Hall took the lead.

Hall, who pitted several laps later, was out in 40 seconds. (Remember this was 1940 when two-minute pit stops were the norm!) Hall won the race with a new race record of 76.53 mph.

Raymond sponsored Hall and Seay in the March 1941 races. Roy won, and Seay came in seventh. In the second race that month, Hall came in second behind Smokey Purser. In the July 1941 race, Seay was fourth, and Hall was eighth. Seay won the August 1941 race.

World War II interrupted racing, and Raymond served with the 99th Division of First Army at the northern corner of the Ardennes salient at the Battle of the Bulge. In April 1946 he was back with a vengeance and a crew of young daredevils. His teams won all five beach races in 1945 and 1946, the first NASCAR-sanctioned race in 1948, and the first strictly stock championship that same year.

Raymond serves on the board of directors of The Living Legends of Auto Racing. He and his wife, Vi, live in Atlanta.