Bud Lunsford - Gainesville, Ga.

Bud with his wife LaQuita.

Banks County Speedway 1956.

In the mid-fifties, Bud Lunsford ran his first race at the Gainesville Speedway, which is now at the bottom of Lake Lanier.  He was hooked.  He would never see “honest employment”again. Charlie Mincey once said that Lunsford was the second hardest man he ever raced against in three decades of competition.  With his ability and brains, there was no reason to work nine to five.  “Bud would beat you with his brains,” Charlie said.

He’s just always been mechanically minded, and bridging the gap from working on cars to racing professionally was natural.
“I never drank, never smoked or anything. I’m not against anybody that wants to have a casual drink, but I don’t think I’m the type that would want to get out here and load up the back of my car and see if I could get away from the law trying to haul liquor,” Bud said.

Bud won 1,139 races in his 25-year career, and he didn’t do it by drinking before races or hanging around for hours after the dust had settled, like some of his compatriots. “They thought they were running fast,” he said of the guys who would throw back a couple of beers to help their racing, “but I was running faster.”

Bud with fellow driver Doug Kenimer.

Bud along side a young Buck Simmons.

 

Lunsford was the first in Georgia with an in-out box transmission as used in Sprint Cars.  Also, this same car used a magneto and fuel injection. These modifications were to reduce weight and run faster. This was his 1959 creation and it beat J.C. Bugg’s car so many times, Mr. Bugg finally bought it. The following week Bud brought a new unpainted coupe to the track with the number 49 painted on the sides with white shoe polish and outran everybody including his old coupe driven for Mr Bugg by T.C. Hunt. This was only Lunsford’s first masterpiece. Bud sold a lot of his winning race cars to fellow racers, some of which he later regretted as he found it hard to out run them. 

Lunsford had little trouble out-classing the field in 1960.  He won the most races, the longest race (150 laps) and the championship.

Lunsford coupe at Anderson, SC early in 1960.

 

In 1960, Bud came to the Peach Bowl with a fuel-injected, magneto fired Chevrolet engine in a shortened and narrowed “B” Model Ford sedan that won wherever it went.  Lunsford had little trouble out-classing the field in 1960.  He won the most races, the longest race (150 laps) and he took the championship with ease at the Sunday night modified races.  He should have; he won 75 percent of the feature races that year.  He won over a dozen more at the Athens Speedway up the road in Athens, Georgia and the track championship.

In 1961, Lunsford came back to win the championship at the Peach Bowl with the same car.  That year, he hardly won, but he finished so consistently up front that the point championship was his. No other driver dominated the races as Lunsford did the year before.  Johnny Suddeth, Freddy Fryar and Charlie Mincey were three of the winners in 1961.  Bill Hemby of Atlanta and Herb “Tootle” Estes of Knoxville, Tennessee were some of the new winners at the Peach Bowl that year in the Modified class.

  In 1961, Charlie Mincey and Johnny Suddeth won the long distance races, but Bud won the year-long war and the Pepsi Championship trophy.  The other drivers and car builders had caught up with him in only one year, but not enough to win the championship.

 

Picture of Bud's '67 car before he wrecked it.

 

Bud says that was the worst wreck he ever had. The car belonged to Speedy Evans of Cumming, GA and the wreck occurred at Cherokee Motor Speedway off Hwy.108 in Waleska, GA. Bud walked away. Pictures were taken in June 1967.

 

Bud's car always drew a crowd down in the Pits even if he was not around. Everyone, especially at the beginning of the race season, wanted to look Bud's car over as he was always a step ahead of everyone .