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Race report from Big Bucks and Boycotts, Vol. III of Forty Years of Stock Car Racing

Sheriff Busts Up Moonshine Still; '68 Opener Goes on Schedule

MACON, GA (Nov. 12, 1967) -- Bobby Allison held off a late surge by Richard Petty and won the Middle Georgia 500 at Middle Georgia Raceway to take an early lead in the point standings. The 1968 NASCAR Grand National season opener was unaffected by the discovery of an elaborate moonshine operation, which was hidden beneath the speedway.

Allison posted his third straight win for the Holman-Moody Ford team with retired Fred Lorenzen serving as crew chief. The 29-year-old Hueytown, AL speedster took the lead in the 452nd lap and led the rest of the way. Petty finished second, a lap behind. Tiny Lund came in third, Red Farmer was fourth and Dub Simpson fifth.

David Pearson had taken the lead from Allison in the 374th lap and built up a sizable lead when his Holman-Moody Ford popped an engine with 27 miles remaining. Petty made a charge at Allison after spending five laps in the pits with mechanical problems early on.

"I doubt I would have been able to catch Pearson if he had finished," admitted Allison.

The 267-mile event went on as scheduled even though Federal and State officers located a huge moonshine still neatly tucked under the .534-mile facility. Peach County Sheriff Reggie Mullis called it "one of the most well-built stills ever operated."

The officer said the still was located under the Middle Georgia Raceway with the only entrance through a ticket booth at the north end of the track. Mullis said agents climbed down a 35-foot ladder leading from the trap door. There they found a 125 foot tunnel where the still was located.

"This is one of the most cleverly run moonshine operations I have ever seen," said one Federal agent. Following an investigation, it was discovered that the still was capable of producing 200 gallons of actual whickey every five days.

At the end of the tunnel, there was a 2,000 gallon cooker, a 1,200 gallon box fermenter and a 750 gallon gas fuel tank for cooking. The operators had installed yellow lights to keep bugs out of the mash.

Authorities put the still out of operation a couple weeks before the race. Most of the 6,800 spectators who attended the race were unaware the still was ever located at their hometown track.

Track President H. Lamar Brown, Jr. was charged with possession of apparatus for the distillery of illegal liquor.

The case came to trial on December 12, 1968, with Brown being found not guilty after a two hour deliberation by the jury.

Bobby Allison won the 1968 NASCAR season opener.