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Reynolds Raceway turns 20 | News

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Reynolds Raceway turns 20
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Most sleepy southern towns don't trigger vocabulary like "turbo-charged" and "high octane."

Engine noise and squealing tires don't usually interrupt the growth of peach and pecan orchards.

Then again, most of those towns aren't Reynolds, Georgia: Home to The Silver Dollar Raceway for the past 20 years.

Its anniversary season opens Saturday night, and it's showing no signs of slowing down.

One lonely stop light dangles over a four-way in downtown Reynolds. You would never suspect about a mile away, on weekends from February to November, the heart-pounding, ears-nearly-bleeding, noise of a traffic jam comes from a raceway built on what once was Ed Swearingen's family farm.

The 66-year-old says he was born with speed in his blood.

His father, whose picture hangs on a raceway gift-shop wall, not-so-much.

Swearingen remembers that as a kid, he said to his father, "I told my Daddy we had the perfect place for a drag strip. He said don't ever bring that subject up again. And I didn't, until years after he died."

When he brought subject up again, it was full steam ahead. Swearingen built the quarter-mile run, and a total of 4,300 feet of pavement. He says drivers need a lot of space to slow down.

He named the track after he a song he heard on the radio, while driving to buy the business permit.

He said, "Dave and Sugar sang 'Queen of the Silver Dollar'. In the absence of any other name, I said, 'What about Silver Dollar Racing?'."

The name stuck. The track has become a staple of the National Hotrod Racing Association, its fans and perhaps most importantly, the people of Taylor County.

Clock operator Brenda Peed started work at "the Dollar" at 14. She's now 27.

She said, "The Silver Dollar Raceway, it's your home. It's your home away from home."

Peed says the people that come from all over the Southeast to compete, the pace of the races; it's an addiction, of sorts.

Sadie Wicks from Roberta got hooked early at age eight. That's the youngest age allowed for junior dragsters.

Her dad is her pit crew. Together, they claimed last year's junior Silver Dollar Raceway Championship title.

Wicks said of her win, "You're on top of the world. You just want to jump off the highest building!"

Seasoned vets burn rubber, but novices are welcome too.

On Friday nights during the season, people can legally drag race on the track, in any vehicle. They have to pay $25 to take the track, and sign a waiver, in case they crash.

Crashes do happen sometimes, but Swearingen said they have a good safety record. He says there has been one fatal accident at his track, and one that caused serious injuries to a driver.

Many folks take the drive or come to watch at the Silver Dollar. They spend money in Reynolds, at the all-in-one gas station, restaurant and lodge.

Swearingen's wife, Dorothy, said, "They fill up our nine-bed motel."

She believes racing put Reynolds on a lot of people's map.

Ed Swearingen is willing to wager, "If you'll get in the car and go down the track, you'll be hooked too."

The Silver Dollar Raceway opens the season Saturday at 11 a.m. $10 at the gate buys you a day of speed. The engines don't cool down until about 11 p.m.


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