Mississippi Dirt Track Racing the way it used to be !!

Not Exactly a Racing Story

Mississippi Racing Legend Ray Cato of Vicksburg told me a story that I just had to post.  In 1968, Ray was racing in Greenville at the Valley Hill Speedway located near Greenwood, Mississippi.  After the races, he and his wife Eileen would head back to Vicksburg and stop at a place called Al’s Supper Club.  It was a nice Restaurant/Bar/Honkytonk located on Hwy 82 between Greenville and LeLand.   Ray became friends with a singer that was playing at Al’s.  The singer’s named was Harold Jenkins.  Harold had some success in the music industry in the early 60’s, but was back in Mississippi after a disagreement with a record company.  Everyone enjoyed Harold’s singing and the management at Al’s was happy to have him.   Every Saturday after the races, the Cato’s would stop by and have a drink or two with Harold during his breaks.

One night Harold asked how Ray and Eileen had met, so Ray told him this story.  Eileen and Ray met in elementary school and he fell in love with her at a very early age.  They lived in the same neighborhood and played together almost every day.  In high school, Ray wanted to date Eileen, but her parents forbid her to date until she was older.   So Ray started dating another girl in school named Linda.

Linda and Ray had been dating for about 2 years when Eileen’s parents decided she was old enough to start dating.  Well Ray now found himself between a rock and a hard place.   He had truly fallen in love with two wonderful young ladies.   For weeks, he struggled with what to do.  When he was with Linda, he couldn’t stop thinking about Eileen.  When he was with Eileen, he couldn’t get Linda off his mind.  Ray finally decided to break up with Linda so he could date Eileen.  This broke Linda’s heart and to this day, she has not let him forget it.

Ray shared this story of falling in love with two wonderful women and the dilemma he faced in choosing between the two.  Ray noticed that Harold was taking notes as he was talking.  As the night went on, Ray asked Harold what he was doing with all those notes.  Harold told him that this was a real good story and had the makings of a great country song.

In 1975, Ray Cato received a message from Harold that he had finished the song and had recorded it.  Harold said that he had to change the names and a few other details to make the song work.  It was quickly climbing the country charts.

Harold Jenkins’ stage name was Conway Twitty.   The song Conway wrote about Ray’s dilemma was “Linda on My Mind.”   It was Conway’s 12th Number One hit.

Like racing, Life is also full of twists and turns.  Ray and Eileen spent 50 amazing years together.  After Eileen’s death, Ray reconnected with Linda, whose husband had also passed away.   Ray and Linda have now been married for two wonderful and happy years.

And now you know the rest of the story…


2015 Deep South Racing Reunion Set for

Oct 11th

This year's festival will be held on Sunday, Oct, 11th, 2015, so start making your plans to attend.   The party will start around lunch and continue until everybody has gone home.  Everyone that raced in the past is invited. Lunch will be served around 1pm.   Not sure what is on the menu but I know it will be good.

Please help us get the word out.  We at MissChicken.com really appreciate all the Parker Family has done to host this event.   All the Racers and their fans look forward to visiting with old friends and swapping stories.   

We are losing our racing legends way too fast.  If anyone knows of any racer who has passed, please email Jimmy Parker.   We would be honored to add their name to the memorial list.   

Please check out Deepsouthracingreunion.com for directions to the reunion and up to date information on this Annual Deep South Racing Reunion. I look forward to see you all there.


2015 Mississippi Racing Extravaganza Was OUTSTANDING !!

What a wonderful weekend. You missed a real good time if you were not there. It was wet and cold on move in day (Friday). Still, somehow Bill Bissell managed to get over 150 beautiful vehicles into the Trademark building.

Mack Gillis (Promoter of the Jackson International Speedway) and Freddy Fryar (arguably the most loved and best stock car driver at JIS) were there. These two men are a wealth of racing history. It was an honor to sit and listen to their stories. Mack brought the original JIS winner sign to had Freddy sign it. It was fun listening to all the behind the scene racing stories at JIS.

Mr Ronald Dearman came from Philadelphia MS and brought his wonderful model race cars. What Ronald has done with these models is simply amazing !! The detail and colors of his models are exact replicas of the original race cars from the 1950's, 60's, 70's and 80's. He built a replica of the Jackson International Speedway front stretch and grand stands. We argued about how to set the lineup for the Super Modifieds on Saturday and again on Sunday withthe Stock Cars. As you can see from this picture, I could only get Miss Chicken up to 8th on the starting grid. None of us could knock Ellis Palisini off the pole.

Also there was Donnie Bean from Meridian with his restored #44 and the First Family of Mississippi Racing, the Parker Family from the Gulf Coast with their restored #21. The Parker Family purchased the Hattiesburg Speedway this past year. You can expect many improvements and exciting racing in Hattiesburg this year.

Others there was Caleb Langford and Mr. Bud Patterson with their restored Little Widow. Caleb has a little work to do on the Little Widow's breaks. Mr. Bud assures me that she will be race ready by spring.

There were so many stories told by so many racers at this year's Extravaganza. Some stories I can repeat and some I better not. I will be posting some of the stories later this month.

Mack Gillis did tell me a story that I just have to share. Mack said he had an outstanding safety crew at Jackson International Speedway. This crew was made up of Mike Eaves, Robert Eaves, Cecil Taylor and John Freeman. Robert Eaves built a homemade device that he could attached to the back of his truck to help spread speedy-dry on the track after wrecks or blown engines. In 1979 NASCAR came to Jackson International Speedway and sponsored several races. After one of these races, this picture of John Freeman spreading Speedy-Dry at JIS was published in a NASCAR magazine. Mack said that his phone started ringing off the hook shortly after the picture was published. Turns out the NASCAR track owners had never seen anything like it and wanted to know where they could get one.

Now you know another first for Mississippi. The NASCAR clean up trucks got its start right here at Jackson International Speedway in Clinton Mississippi.

(Note: Click on Picture and Underlined Text to view Pictures or Links)


YouTube Videos of Vintage Mississippi Driver

Below is a list of some YouTube vidios. If you have found any vidios that I've miss, PLEASE let me know. I'll be happy to add them here.

Mobile International Speedway 1967 World 300 Super Modified THANKS TO David Findlay - YouTube

Tommy Herbert & Pappy Crane Flip - 1960 Daytona 500

EllisPalasini WXVT GreenvilleSpeedway

Jackson International Speedway, Clinton, MS, Hobby Class - 1970

Jackson International Speedway, Clinton, MS, Super Modifieds - 1970

Jackson International Speedway - Clinton, Ms, Stock Cars - 1970

Ride Around Jackson International Speedway in 2012



Bill Gupton

A Mississippi Motor Sports Unsung Hero

Written By Mack Gillis (Promoter of Jackson International Speedway)

Bill Gupton is truly one of the unsung heroes of Mississippi Motor Sports; not only motor sports, but all outdoor sports.  He covered virtually everything from racing, hunting, fishing, rodeos, wrestling, fairs, festivals, political speaking’s, civic meetings and more.  It was almost endless as to what he covered for The Mississippi Sportsman.  Equally important was his wife, Doris, who usually worked behind the scenes.  She laid out most of the ads, wrote editorials, and handled publishers.  Doris was Editor of The Mississippi Sportsman Magazine.  Although they covered so many events, I believe auto racing was their favorite.  I would see them at different events and they immediately would begin to ask me about the track and any racing news.  They never missed any event I promoted in the Jackson area.  Many times, they would leave other events early so as not to be late for racing. 

The Gupton’s involvement with racing was much deeper than most people realized.  They didn't just shoot pictures and publish a paper.  They sponsored cars and drivers at different times.  They helped acquire sponsors and they helped promote races. 

Before starting his paper, Bill had worked for several newspapers and had contacts across the State.  When I would go on the road promoting events, Bill would give me names of individuals to see and would always say "tell them Ole Bill sent you by."   Their photos were often used by other publications without them receiving credit, but I never heard them complain. 

Bill knew how to get the most from a picture.  Our famous winner signs came about particularly because of this.  I wanted our track to get all the recognition it deserved.  Bill was in charge of the Victory Lane celebrations, and many of his pictures from our major races were picked up and used by the National publications.  Many of the Mississippi races would have little to show if not for their involvement, photos and written articles. 

Another fact not known to many, Bill and Doris were prolific business owners.  I always enjoyed and learned from our business conversations.  Bill and Doris built and owned many warehouses offices and retail buildings.  They bought and sold many buildings of store fixtures.  Many of the display units and shelves I use today came from them.  They were members of many civic organizations, and strong supporters of the development of the Barnett Reservoir.  Bill was Director of the Reservoir Development Association.  Not only being so helpful, the Guptons had such a positive outlook and upbeat personality.  They were a very welcome asset to the Jackson International Speedway operating staff.  They had a great sense of humor.  I will never forget all the help and support that I and all Mississippi Racers received from Bill and Doris Gupton.

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A Mississippi Racing Historian Passes Away

Jack Brown passed away Tuesday March 19th 2013 after a long illness. Jack was a good friend to many people. I personally think he knew everyone. Jack was simply an amazing man with a passion for life, love, people and racing.

MissChicken.com was created as a restoration website for our racecar. Jack single handedly added “and Mississippi Racing History" to this website name with his knowledge of Mississippi Racing.

I first met Jack at a car show in 2005. I had been searching for pictures of Miss Chicken from back when she raced in the 1960's. Someone gave me Jack's phone number and said he had old racing pictures, so I made the call. Turns out, he wanted to look over our racecar just as badly as I wanted to look over his pictures. We met at the Morton Day car show. Jack had the most impressive collection of Mississippi Racing pictures I have ever seen and his knowledge of the people and places was outstanding. Mississippi Racing History was born.

Jack's passion for racing started at a very early age. He would beg his dad to take him to the races every weekend. When he got older, he would travel to tracks all over Mississippi. He told me that every date he had with his wife (Charlotte) ended up at a racetrack somewhere.

His passion was not just limited to watching the races. A young Jack Brown made a name for himself in the Kart Racing world. Jack even raced a car in the Mini Stock Class at Jackson International Speedway. His most exciting experience on the track was not in a race. He had rebuilt the motor on his Mini Stock and had gone to the track early to get it setup. While making his final laps, Jack noticed a young Mark Martin getting ready to take some practice laps. Jack said he stayed on track a few extra laps just so he could say he was on the same track as Mark Martin.

Jack made many friends and acquaintances during his lifelong love of racing. His outstandng knowledge of Mississippi racing history, the people and the cars served him well as part time announcer at Jackson International Speedway. 

Jack eventually moved from racecars to Street Rods when he bought his 1939 Chevy. He truly enjoyed the fellowship of fellow car enthusiast.  As with everything in Jack’s life, he got involved to the fullest. He held several positions in the Mississippi Street Rod Association and helped this group expand and grow.

There will never be another like Jack Brown.

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Rattletrap II

The Dream Comes Alive

Jack Brown’s Rattletrap II racecar has been completed.   Jack’s health has been failing over the past several years and progress on his B-Car had slowed to a crawl.   A bunch of Jack’s good friends took it upon themselves to complete the car for Jack.   Mike Summerlin, the ringleader of this bunch, talked Jack into letting him put the rear end back under the old car.  Once Mike had the keys to the garage, this fine band of friends went to work.

Jack is a long time member of the Mississippi Street Rod Association.   It was his dream to have his restored racecar at their big annual event, The Dixie Rod Run.   Mike’s goal was to have the car ready for this year’s annual event which is scheduled for March 22nd, 23rd and 24th.   

It took about 2 months of hard work and many extra parts to put the Rattletrap II back together.   They returned the completed racecar to Jack the last week of February.  Pictures of this joyful return can be seen on the Mississippi Street Rod Association website. To navigate to the pictures, click on “Events 2012 & 2013."  Then click on “Jack Brown’s Race Car.” 

We, at MissChicken, want to say a big “THANK YOU” to all who helped make this dream come true.  Jack Brown is a major contributor to MissChicken.   He donated many of the pictures of early Mississippi racing found on this website.   Jack lived and breathed Mississippi Racing all his life and his knowledge of the 1950’s and 60’s is truly unbelievable. 

Below is a list of those who gave of themselves to restore a piece of Mississippi Racing History and deliver a gift that means so much.


John Bolden, Clayton Morris, Eric Knight, George Phillips, Gene Roberson, Vic Boggs, Danny Slay, Jack Cox, Wayne Thomas, Henry Cooper, Garry Adams, Ware Hodo, Sheila Hodo, George Phillips, Anthony Phillips, Gene Roberson, Barbara Summerlin (photography), Mike Summerlin, What Ever It Takes (transmission parts).

(Note: Click on Picture and Underlined Text to view Pictures or Links)


Mississippi Racing Legend

Ival Cooper

When you talk about the best Mississippi race car drivers ever, there are a handful of names that always go to the top of the list. The name Ival Cooper will always be near the top.


Ival Cooper learned the art of fast driving shortly after he graduated high school in Southeastern Arkansas. Ival discovered his driving abilities on Arkansas’ dirt roads from behind the wheel of a log truck. YES, I said a log truck !! Ival first real job was driving log trucks in Tyro Arkansas. He once said that he always wanted to get to where ever he was going before everyone else.


Sometime about 1950, Ival followed his brother to Jackson Mississippi to drive for a local trucking company. Ival said that he never really thought about driving race cars, until then one day in 1951, he heard an advertisement on the radio about racing at the Mississippi Sports Arena. He decided to go down and see what car racing was all about. The next week he was back at the track and got his chance to drive a race car when another drive didn’t show up. Ival said he didn’t get to race that night. Seems the car broke while he was running his time-trial but that evening he caught the racing fever. He was back at the track the next week and most every weekend afterwards until his death in July 1984.


Ival drove for many car owners from 1951 to 1953. In 1954 he teamed up with another Mississippi racing legend Chicken McCombs. Chicken McCombs built the legendary car #248 and Ival Cooper drove the wheels off of it. Ival Cooper will forever be known as the driver of the Chicken McCombs built cars, #248 and #631. They were the team to beat in the mid 50’s through the 1960’s.


Ival won races in modifieds and supermodifieds all over the southeast. Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s a racing team could race 5 days a week. Ival and Chicken’s skills were well known from Memphis to Biloxi and from Houston to Pensacola. Ival won races for many car owners especially after moving to asphalt full time in the late 1960’s. Toward the end of his career Ival was associated with car #30 the “Ardis Special”, built and owned by Johnny Ardis of Mobile AL .


Ival Cooper was not only an intense competitor but also a friend to most all the drivers. Ival was always looking out for his fellow competitor. If a driver seemed to be in trouble after a crash, he would pull over to help get him out of the car. Even if he was leading the race. Ival was also a force to be reckoned with in the pits. When drivers did something on the track that endanged another drivers, you could bet that Ival would be in their face before they could get out of their car.


Ival died doing what he loved, driving a supermodified racecar. It was reported that Ival had a heart attack driving the “Ardis Special” at Mobil International Speedway. Fans say they knew he was in trouble when he slumped over while racing down the back stretch. He never let off the gas and never made the #3 turn.

(Note: Click on Picture and Underlined Text to view Pictures or Links)


Mississippi Racing Legend

Tommy Noblin - "The Mississippi Skeeter"

Tommy Noblin was born in 1940 in Clifton Mississippi. He went to his first race in 1958 and two weeks later he had his own car. As with all of the Scott County Gang, racing got in his blood quickly.

I’ve been told that Tommy could race thirteen months out of a year. He teamed up with car owners Rubin Finch and mechanic Udall Sessions and quickly made a name for himself as an initiator in the sport. Tommy knew that the lighter he could make the car, the faster it would go. He was always looking for ways to remove weight.

In the mid 1960’s, racing in central Mississippi went through a huge change. The asphalt tracks started drawing the larger crowds and faster cars. Asphalt tracks in Montgomery, Jackson, Laurel and Pensacola took their toll on the local dirt tracks. Tommy bought a car and tried asphalt racing for a short time but dirt track racing was his passion. One of the tracks that managed to survive the changing times was Whynot Raceway located southeast of Meridian Mississippi. Tommy started driving for car owner Richard Webb and they started winning races, quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Tommy loved racing and he also loved kids. He knew that the future of the sport was in the children and he always made time for his younger fans. One of those youngsters was Jody Walters. These days, Jody is a racecar driver from Meridian MS and has to be Tommy’s #1 fan. Jody always had a sign in the cockpit of his car that read “ Be a Hero to a Child – In Memory of Tommy Noblin”. Several years ago, Jody gave Tommy’s son that sign.

Tommy, like most drivers, had many tricks up his sleeve. One was also in his shoes. Tommy always wore an old pair of Hushpuppies to the track. He would walk the track in his Hushpuppies and they would give him a feel of how to set up the car for the race. I’ve been told that the more the track stuck to his Hushpuppies, the larger his smile.

1973 and 1974 were Tommy’s most impressive years. In 1973, Tommy won 15 of 16 races at Whynot in the sprint car class. The only man to beat him was Bubby Jones of Dansville IN. In 1974, he continued his winning streak. A $500 bounty was placed on Tommy to be given to any driver that could beat him. Marty Broadus was the Gulf Coast Sprint Champion in 1973. He came up from the coast to see if he could collect that bounty. He finished 2nd to Tommy that night. Others to come to Whynot and try to collect the bounty were Terry Broadus of Long Beach,   Sammy Swindell   of Bartlett TN, Bobby Marshall of Dallas TX and   Jim McElreath   of Fort Worth TX. All came up short. Tommy went on to win 16 of 16 races at Whynot in 1974 and collect the $500 for himself. The only man to beat Tommy at Whynot in 1973 and 74 was Bubby Jones. Tommy and Bubby went on to become lifelong friends.

Tommy’s abilities behind the wheel turned heads all over the nation. In 1974 he took his car to a Championship Race in Phoenix AZ. He qualified his car 4th of over 70 entries. Unfortunately he crashed his car in turn 1 after qualifying and could not make the race. Car owners started lining up to ask him to drive their cars in the big race.

Tommy discovered how to run Firestone 500 drag racing tires on his sprinter. He went to a Championship race at the Talladega short track and just walked all over the field. The next week he received a new set of Firestone 500s from Firestone. He called the company to let them know that he had not ordered any tires. They told him that they had sold over $40,000 worth of tires because of his showing in Talladega. They just wanted to say thanks !!

In 1975 through 1979, Tommy drove several cars for owner Bobby Davis and also for owner Bob Gillentine. These owners provided Tommy many opportunities to drive quality cars in big races all over the nation. In 1975 Tommy won track championships at West Memphis, Little Rock and Greenville. He also won big races in Kansas, Indiana, Texas, and Ohio. During this time, a group of Tommy’s racing friends started developing the foundation of what we call today “The World of Outlaws”.

On August 13, 1979, Mississippi racing lost a great driver. While driving an 18 wheeler from New Orleans back to his home in Birmingham, Tommy ran into the rear of another disabled 18 wheeler stranded in the middle of Hwy 98 near Tylertown MS. Tommy was buried in Birmingham, dressed in his race suit and helmet.


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