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GA Racing HOF member Wilbur Rakestraw passes away

By Brandon Reed Reporter
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DAWSONVILLE - Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Wilbur Rakestraw passed away Wednesday, May 7 of congestive heart failure.

Rakestraw, of Dallas, GA, was born on June 6, 1928.

Rakestraw came from a family of racers. He began his career at the Dallas Speed Bowl in Dallas, GA, piloting a 1937 Ford. Rakestraw would remain a longtime Ford loyalist, often racing cars with the number 999, in honor of Henry Ford's first race car.

Rakestraw was a long time competitor on the Southern Raceing Enterprises organization, competing in events for the series all over the south, including the Lakewood Speedway in Atlanta, GA (where he saw not only a win, but one race where he went off into a cesspool outside the track's third turn), the Peach Bowl near downtown Atlanta, the Banks County Speedway near Baldwin, GA and others.

In addition, he competed in 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events between 1956 and 1961, picking up one top five finish at Columbia, SC, and recording six top 10 finishes.

Among those Sprint Cup starts were the first three runnings of the Daytona 500 in 1959, 1960 and 1961. His best finish at Daytona was a 22nd in the inaugural race in 1959.

Rakestraw also competed in the first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1960, where he turned in an 11th place finish.

One of Rakestraw's closest brushes with NASCAR victory lane was in a non-points consolation race at Daytona in 1961, where he finished second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Junion Johnson.

Rakestraw also competed in several NASCAR Convertible Series events in 1958 and 1959. In 1958, he competed in seven Convertible races, picking up three top five finishes and four top 10s.

He was also a long time ARCA competitor, where he scored several wins and top tens.

Rakestraw hung up his helmet in 1961.

In 2008, he was inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, GA, and remained a supporter of the facility for the rest of his life.

Wilbur Rakestraw was 85 years of age.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, May 9, 2014, at 2:00 PM, from Clark Funeral Home in Hiram, GA. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be make to the Poplar Springs Baptist Church Cemetery Fund in Villa Rica, GA or the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in Dawsonville, GA.
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