WATCH: 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Ambassador Bill Posey: Our Car Guy in Congress
By Steve Wilson // April 21, 2020
purchased, renovated and successfully operated the Eau Gallie Speedway In the early 1970s
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: The Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson talks with Congressman Bill Posey – the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame 2020 Sports Ambassador inductee. Posey, who has been a motorsports competitor, entrepreneur and advocate for more than 57 years – and is currently the co-chair of the Congressional Motorsports Caucus and Auto Racing Caucus. (Please note this interview took place prior to the COVID-19 threat)
Now the co-chair of the Congressional Motorsports Caucus and Auto Racing Caucus, Congressman Bill Posey, at the of age 16 in 1963, began racing a car owned by local service station owner Chuck Warner, a 1933 Ford with a fuel-injected Hemi.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame 2020 Sports Ambassador inductee is Florida Congressman Bill Posey, who has been a motorsports competitor, entrepreneur and advocate for more than 57 years – and is currently the co-chair of the Congressional Motorsports Caucus and Auto Racing Caucus.
Posey’s advocacy prompted NASCAR to nickname Posey, “Our Car Guy in Congress,” but Posey not only advocates all-things-automotive, but he also drives and maintains his own classic car.
It all began with Posey’s father, Walt “Smokey” Posey, who was a tremendous influence on his oldest son.
Smokey, as Posey nicknamed his father, had a very difficult childhood, but the perseverance he showed and the tenacity he displayed over his lifetime made a lasting impact on Bill.
Posey began attending races with his dad when he was a young child and fondly recalls attending races in California with his father, and said that probably gave him the “bug” to become a motorsports fan and competitor.
“My interest in cars probably began when I lived in California and began attending short track races with my father at the age of five,” said Posey.
Several years later in 1959, Posey witnessed the first-ever race at the new Daytona International Speedway where Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp took the checkered flag side by side in one of the most exciting finishes ever at Daytona.
“It took three days of reviewing photograph from different angles to declare a winner,” Posey said.
Early in life, Posey was like a lot of teenage boys as he developed a love of motorcycles and cars. He tried to run his first race at age 14 but did not meet the minimum age requirement.
At age 16 in 1963, he began racing a car owned by local service station owner Chuck Warner, a 1933 Ford with a fuel-injected Hemi.
It was a drag-racer and Posey won races all over the state. He would rebuild engines, repair his vehicles, and race cars. Between racing motorcycles and cars, Bill won over one hundred races.
“I won a whole bunch of races in that Ford,” Posey said.
In 1965, Posey owned a ‘54 Corvette but decided he wanted a newer model.
Bob Dance, who at the time was a salesman for Indian River Chevrolet, told Bill he was going to be receiving a fuel-injected 1963 Corvette Stingray convertible in the next few days from none other than Original Seven Astronaut Gus Grissom.
When Bill heard that, he knew he had to have that car and dropped out of high school sports to work at Publix to earn the money to by the car.
Throughout the 1960s, Posey continued racing at Eau Gallie Speedway in Melbourne, Florida and at the Orlando Raceway.
He was working at NASA on the Apollo program as an inspector on the third stage of the Saturn rocket until the moon landing in August of 1969 was accomplished. But, like many people on the Space Coast, when man landed on the moon, he was laid off.
In the early 1970s, the Eau Gallie Speedway was in foreclosure and Posey decided to enter into the “track ownership” game and wrote a book about race promotion in 1971.
He co-founded the Mid-Florida Racing Association, Inc., which eventually bought, renovated and successfully operated the Eau Gallie Speedway.
After he married his wife, Katie, and they had their first child, Posey pretty much got out of racing.
He had started a real estate company and after a 10-year absence from racing, he decided to get back in. Although things had changed, Posey continued to excel on the track and make a positive impact on motorsports in Brevard and beyond.
In 1976 Posey was elected to the Rockledge City Council and in the early 1980s, he got the itch to go racing again, so he returned to Orlando Speedworld, but also raced at New Smyrna Speedway, Columbia Lake City Speedway and Hialeah Speedway, where he won dozens of races.
Moving into the new millennium, Posey began competing with classic race cars on asphalt and dirt at Orlando, New Smyrna Speedway, Bradenton, Desoto, Ocala, Jacksonville, Okeechobee, Volusia Speedway Park and Tampa’s East Bay Speedway
In February 2001, when the media wanted to obtain copies of Dale Earnhardt’s autopsy photos, Posey wrote, named and was a Senate sponsor of the Earnhardt Family Protection Act – a law that protects the dignity of the deceased.
In 2008, Bill Posey was elected to Florida’s 8th congressional district in Congress, a job that would consume all of his time and forced him to downsize.
“I sold all my racing stuff a year after being elected to congress,” said Posey. “The only remaining car in my shop is my ’66 Malibu.”
One of his proudest achievements in motorsports is being presented Daytona’s Victory Lane Racing Association Award, in memory of Donnie and Clifford Allison. The presentation was made by one of his heroes, racing-legend Bobby Allison.
Despite his job as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 8th congressional district in Congress, Posey always had a finger on the pulse of auto racing.
FOR INFORMATION ABOUT the 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME, call 321-323-4460 or 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
CLICK HERE TO SEE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame selection committee announced an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet and Sports Awards, originally scheduled for Friday, May 8 at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, has been postponed due to COVID-19 and a new date will be announced by May 15.
The festivities include a meet and greet with the area’s sports royalty and the dinner and induction proceeding will start at 6:45 p.m. and includes compelling video tributes of each of the inductees.
The 2020 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame induction event, and the 2020 High School Breakfast of Champions recognition awards, are sponsored by Health First, Erdman Automotive, All Points, Clear Choice Health Care, Savings Safari, Friday Night Locker Room and Rock Paper Simple.
The Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame includes an impressive array of outstanding individuals to be inducted into the 2020 Class of the Hall of Fame.
Dozens of nominees were considered in four categories including professional sports, college sports, high school sports and amateur sports.
Special honorary recognition will also be bestowed upon individuals and teams that have made significant contributions to sports on the Space Coast.
Space Coast Daily created the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 and has so far inducted more than 160 of Brevard County’s most outstanding athletes, coaches and sports personalities.
Serving on the committee are Space Coast Daily President & Publisher Tom Palermo, Vice President Giles Malone, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo, Managing Editor Zach Clark, the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson and Orville Susong, former Health First COO Larry Garrison and Amateur Athletic Union Vice President Rusty Buchanan.
“The list of inductees for 2020 induction include athletes and coaches everybody knows – and some that may have been forgotten with the passing of time,” said Tom Palermo.
FOR INFORMATION about the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame, or to make a reservation, e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com or call 321-615-8111.
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Tim Wakefield talks about his induction into the first class of the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2020
• PROFESSIONAL CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Jamel Dean, Football; Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Wrestling; Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Football; Mark Lake, Skateboarding; Juwaan Taylor, Football
• COLLEGE CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Derek Hamm, Football; Paulette King, Basketball; Dylan Lewis, Soccer; Melanie Murphy, Softball
• PREP CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Lexy Denaburg, Volleyball; Apryl Bigham Nickson, Swimming; Andi Sellers, Soccer
• AMATEUR/RECREATION CATEGORY INDUCTEE: Peter Blount, Track & Field; Karina Villegas, Sled Hockey; Caylor Williams, Wrestling
• COACHING CATEGORY INDUCTEES: Sean Ballard, Wrestling; Doug Butler, Cross County and Track; Aubin Goporo, Basketball; Gerald Hodgin, Football; Bill Sinclair, Softball; Don Smith, Basketball
• SPORTS DEVELOPMENT INDUCTEE: Loren McClanahan
• LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT INDUCTEE: Clint Hurdle
• SPORTS OFFICIAL INDUCTEES: Ted Ruta
• SPORTS JOURNALISM INDUCTEES: Steve Vaughn
• SPORTS AMBASSADOR AWARD INDUCTEE: Congressman Bill Posey
• CHALLENGER AWARDS INDUCTEES: Brevard Special Olympics
• TEAM OF THE YEAR: 2019 Satellite High Cross Country
• LEGACY CHAMPIONS: TBA
• SPECIAL TRIBUTE: TBA
CLICK HERE TO SEE THE MEMBERS OF THE SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
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