Graham inducted into Augusta racing hall of fame
By Caitlin Boland

Archie Graham was inducted into the Augusta International Raceway Hall of Fame in September for his career in drag and micro-midget racing.
A local man, Archie Graham, was recently inducted into the Augusta International Raceway Preservation Society (AIRPS) Hall of Fame.
An avid racer named Henry Jones, along with other road racing enthusiasts, established the AIRPS in 2003. The group began to grow and raised funds to place a monument at the Diamond Lakes Community Center in Augusta. According to AIRPS, Diamond Lakes sits on the former site of the Augusta International Speedway’s (AIS) 3.2 mile road course. When AIS opened in 1960, it had a drag strip, micro-midget track, a go-cart track and a motorcycle scramble track. In 1961, a half-mile dirt track was added, and in 1963, a 3.2 mile road course was added.
The speedway folded in 1966 and was bought by the Warr brothers and headed up by State Sen. Mike Padgett who changed the name to Augusta Raceways. The track remained open until 1970.
In 2004, AIRPS inducted its first class into the hall of fame. The class was composed of 1960 NASCAR Champion Rex White, Augusta road racer Ted Tidwell, an Augusta Grand National driver. Graham’s class will round out 65 total hall of famers for AIRPS. Graham was inducted for his career in drag racing and racing micro-midget cars.
“I lost a many a one, but I won a hell of a lot of them,” Graham said. “It was humbling to be inducted, but it goes back to the point that you can’t do it all by yourself. It’s we not me. There’s a lot of folks who think they can do it all, but they can’t.”
Graham was born in 1933 and raised on a tobacco farm just outside Conway, South Carolina, near Myrtle Beach. At the age of 10, Graham began working on engines.
“I got interested in working on Model As and Model Ts,” Graham said. “Back then everything we had was torn up. You either fixed it or took the mule and wagon or walked.”
Graham said he got out of the Air Force in 1956 and began racing in 1957. He began building engines as well.
“The first time I ever built anything was right after the war,” Graham said. “During the war, where we lived, we didn’t have electricity, and I had an aunt and uncle who had an old Maytag washing machine with a gasoline motor on it. I told them that if they ever got rid of that washing me that I wanted the motor. One day, they got electricity before we did because they lived closer to Conway than we did, and they bought one of them there electric washing machine motors.”
Graham said they gave him the gas motor, and he attached it to his bicycle, building a motorbike out of a Maytag washing machine motor.
“It just blossomed out from there,” Graham said. “I’ve built engines for Daytona, engines for just about everybody around who raced. I enjoy making them go fast.”
Graham himself was a drag racer because he said he didn’t like driving in circles on a racetrack. He won many races and holds several records up until the present from his time racing in Jackson, South Carolina.
“The record was 11.6 [seconds] and I did it in 10 flat,” Graham said. “Of course, they disqualified me and wouldn’t let me race there again because they said I was too fast.”
In addition to racing, Graham has also built engines for micro-midgets, winning three Grand National championships.
Graham builds engines from the ground up and has built thousands of engines in his lifetime.
He builds late model round track engines, drag engines, engines for cars at Daytona and micro-midgets as well as many hot street engines. Graham said at Daytona, he runs the 250 Perma-techs instead of the 500.
“That was my first time to build a car for Daytona and first Daytona engine,” Graham said. “We qualified 35th and run 11th place the first time. That’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life. I was up there in those pits for two solid weeks building a race car.”
Graham continued to race until 1995, but his engine building days are still alive and well.
FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS, see the full story in the Oct. 19 issue of The McDuffie Progress. To have The McDuffie Progress delivered to your home or business each week, simply call 706-595-1601 to subscribe. Or, follow the link on our home page to subscribe.





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