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Raw Chatter

I recently spent the better part of a day with officials and members of the Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society. And honestly, I enjoyed myself tremendously.

The reason is this particular group is all about remembering the past accomplishments of so many fine race car drivers who drove the tracks in South Augusta, Columbia County and elsewhere.

Five such drivers, including two friends of mine, were inducted into the AIRPS Hall of Fame at Diamond Lakes in South Augusta last month. My two friends were Herman McTier, a longtime businessman in Thomson and Al "Buddy" Gormley, a former road patrol sergeant with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

I've known Mr. Herman for many, many years and have always thought a lot of him. The same is true of Mr. Gormley, who I met many years ago when I worked as a police reporter for The Augusta Chronicle . But I didn't know that he raced cars on the side and had I known, I certainly would have tried to profile him in the newspaper.

No wonder it was relatively easy for Mr. Gormley to chase down the bad guys in his patrol car.

Mr. McTier, a Jefferson County native like me, raced cars on different tracks throughout the Central Savannah River Area for many years. He was an outstanding race car driver and most deserving to have been inducted into the AIRPS Hall of Fame.

Today, Mr. McTier is recovering from a series of strokes.

His son, Tony, put his dad's racing career in perspective by saying he thought the induction into the AIRPS Hall of Fame was his biggest highlight. It was a most memorable occasion for the McTier family and those like me who attended.

In a special feature that appeared in last week's edition, I talked about those men and others -- all somewhat pioneers of the sport that has become so popular today.

I'd suggest anyone wanting to congratulate Mr. McTier to drop by McTier Used Auto Parts, located off the Augusta Highway near Thomson. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

As a little boy, I remember when my Daddy would take me and my twin brother, Bobby, to the old race track in South Augusta. After one of the races there, Daddy, who was big-time into stockcar racing and was friends with several of the big name drivers, made it possible for us to sit inside a car that had been driven by Fireball Roberts -- one of the legends of racing.

That was a truly treasured memory.

Web posted on Thursday, October 01, 2009

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