Racing Legend Buck Simmons Passes Away

Buck Simmons smiles in victory lane after winning the final race at Atlanta’s famed Lakewood Speedway in 1979. Simmons passed away Sunday at the age of 66. Photo by Robert Turner

Buck Simmons, winner of over 1,000 feature events in a career that spanned over five decades, passed away Sunday morning.

Simmons, a member of both the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and the National Dirt Racing Hall of Fame, was born July 31, 1946.

The Baldwin, Georgia native was nothing less than a racing legend.

The start of his stellar career began just down the road from his home, behind the wheel of the water truck at the Banks County Speedway, which was owned by fellow Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member Tommie Irvin.

“His parents were good friends of mine,” said Irvin in a 2007 interview. “When he was about 12 or 14 years old, he got an old car and started driving around the track on Saturdays while we were working.  Finally, his daddy put him in a car, and he really started racing down there when he was 14.”

Simmons learned to win early on, taking the win in his third career start at Westminster, S.C.  Over his career, Simmons beat some of the best stock car drivers on dirt or on asphalt. He beat out Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough in an asphalt late model event at Baton Rouge, LA.  He defeated the legendary Dale Earnhardt, Sr. on a dirt track at Hartsville-Darlington, S.C.

He won the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway in 1975, and the Rattler 100 at South Alabama Speedway in 1976.

Simmons competed several times in the famed Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL in the seventies, with his best effort coming in 1977, when he finished second to fellow Georgia Racing Hall of Famer Ronnie Sanders.

Simmons competed on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit in several events in 1979 and 1980, including events at Atlanta, Ontario, Rockingham, Bristol, Darlington, Martinsville, Talladega.  He also competed in events in what is now known as the K&N Pro West Series, at Phoenix and  Ontario, the latter of which he won the pole for.

But it was on the short tracks that he showed his true talents, taking on and beating the likes of fellow Hall of Famers Bud Lunsford, Doug Kenimer, Tootle Estes, Mike Head, Leon Sells, Jody Ridley, Charlie Mincey, and more.

Simmons won on dirt and asphalt tracks all across the southeast, and was the 1981 National Dirt Racing Association champ. He also took wins in events for the United Dirt Track Racing Association and the Southern All-Stars.

When Simmons climbed out of his legendary number 41 for the last time in 2003, he had amassed 1,012 victories.

The accolades for his on-track success came in the form of being an inaugural inductee into the National Dirt Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, and in being inducted into the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame in 2009.

He was 66 years of age.

Services for Simmons will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 4 pm at the chapel of McGahee Griffin Stewart Funeral Home in Cornelia, GA .  Interment will follow at Level Grove Cemetery in Cornelia.  Visitation will be Tuesday, Aug. 14 from 6-9 pm at the funeral home.


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