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The Greatest Driver Who Ever Lived

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Lloyd Seay

The Greatest Driver Who Ever Lived

Jeremy T. Sellers
Jerm's Joint
August 8, 2010

We must be speaking of Richard Petty, right? Nope. How about Dale Earnhardt, it's gotta be him!? Huh-uh. Don't even whisper the name Jimmie Johnson, that's not even close. As a matter of fact, this driver never saw ONE NASCAR event as he raced nearly eight years before its inception, yet that is how its founder, Bill France, Sr. regarded a youthful, yet sometimes considered insane, Lloyd Seay.

Lloyd was born in the Georgia hills near Dawnsonville in December of 1919. Growing up in what some may call a "bad element," it didn't take Seay long to find an acceptance among the lawless types of his hometown. Early in his teens, he picked up driving by transporting hooch from point-to-point, often with law enforcement and revenue agents on his rear bumper. It didn't take long for his style of driving to become legendary, and one of NASCAR's first big owners to take notice. "He was wide open all the way," said Raymond Parks who supplied Seay with a car, and the time's top mechannic, Red Vogt.

Drivers of the era dealt in thrills and spills, and the way Lloyd drove his car on the edge constantly made him a perfect fit. Silencing any nay-sayers to his youth and inexperience on the track, Seay won the first race he entered at the age of 18. He never let up, on August 24, 1941, he started 15th on Daytona's Beach-Road course, but to not only lead the opening lap, but was 3 1/2 miles ahead of second place Joe Littlejohn when he crossed the finish line. He even flipped twice in one event to still finish fourth! At Lakewood Speedway, September 1, 1941, Lloyd started near the back of the field only to grab first place by lap 35. Coupled with his win on August 31st at High Point, North Carolina, posted his THIRD victory in nine days!

However, the cliche "the good die young" prevailed in the story of Lloyd Seay. Only hours after winning at Lakewood, he was shot to death by his cousin Woodrow Anderson over an apparent sugar purchase Lloyd had placed on Woodrow's credit. As late as 1984, Bill France was quoted as saying, "I raced against Lloyd before the war. He was the best pure driver I ever saw, and I have seen 'em all."

Rarely mentioned when speaking of the sport's history today, it makes one wonder how the initial mold of NASCAR may have been made, or perhaps broken, if Lloyd Seay had lived to see the first organized season.

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