Gene Felton in the pits at the 1993 Fast Masters event
May 11, 1936 |
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Years of service||1958-1971|
|Rank||Captain Company Commander|
Gene Felton (born May 11, 1936), is an American race car driver. He hails from Atlanta, GA. Felton is a graduate of the University of North Carolina and served in the United States Marine Corps (USMC). He currently lives in Roswell, GA.
Amateur racing career
Felton began his motor sports career drag racing. In 1954, he had 6 wins as a drag racer.
From 1958 to 1960, while in the USMC, he raced motorcycles in Okinawa, Japan and won a championship consisting of 13 Pacer's Motorcycle Club Okinawa wins.
In 1964, Felton won the Chimney Rock Hillclimb which was the first event he ever entered. In 1967, Felton was the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) A Sedan Class Southeastern regional champion. Over the course of 1964 to 1969, he had 42 wins.
In 1971, he was the SCCA D Production Class Southeastern regional champion. Also in 1971, he was the Peachbowl Speedway Ministock champion. In 1971, he also competed in the NASCAR Grand American series and garnered 3 top-5 finishes.
Early professional racing career
In 1972, Felton won his first professional race, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) Camel GT series Presidential 250 at Daytona International Speedway. This race was only his third professional race. Gene raced a big block Camaro during this win. Felton would go on to having 13 wins at Daytona.
In 1973, Felton won another 250-mile race, the IMSA Camel GT series Paul Revere 250, at Daytona. He drove the same big block Camaro from the 1972 Presidential 250 during this race. In 1976, Gene qualified for his first NASCAR Grand National race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway Dixie 500. He finished 16th driving for Junie Dunleavy. From 1974 through 1977, Gene Felton garnered 15 IMSA Champion Spark Plug Series event wins. During this time, he competed in NASCAR Permatex Modified Series in the same Camaro.
From 1977 through 1980, Felton won the IMSA American Challenge series all four years. During this run, he accumulated 25 wins. In the 1980 season, he qualified for the pole and won all nine races.
Also in 1980, Felton had 3 wins at the Dixie Speedway racing on a 3/8 mile dirt track.
In 1981 and 1982, Felton was runner-up for consecutive years in the IMSA American Challenge series.
In 1982, Felton was runner-up in the GTO Class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Sarthe, France. These wins occurred during the 1982 IMSA Championship Season.
In 1983, Felton had 3 wins during the 1983 IMSA Championship Season including the Miami Grand Prix. He also won the first Trans-Am race in which he was entered, beating out David Hobbs and other factory teams.
In 1984, Felton won the GTO Class at the 24 Hours race at Daytona. He also won 12 Hours of Sebring, Road Atlanta, Charlotte, Pocono, and the first Miami Grand Prix event in the GTO Class. These wins occurred during the 1984 IMSA Championship Season. He co-drove with Terry LaBonte and car owner, Billy Hagan. Gene was the points leader until the team folded due to a lack of funds. Gene won six races and set seventeen IMSA GTO track records. Gene's accolades in 1984 include two second-place finishes, two third-place finishes, nine top-five finishes, eleven top-ten finishes, eleven pole positions, six fastest race lap times records, and eleven qualifying records. He also competed in several American Challenge races finishing season with one win and two second place. He finished second in the GT championship competing in only a half a season.
In October 1984, Felton was critically injured during a Trans-Am race at the Riverside International Speedway in California. He sustained severe injuries to the neck and spine to include his vocal chords. While in the hospital, Felton was advised by IMSA that he had surpassed Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood in overall wins and that he had become IMSA's winningest driver.
Late racing career
In 1985 through 1986, Felton continued to race in IMSA American Challenge and GTO series events. He accomplished seven top-5 finishes including one win.
In 1992, Felton founded the Historic Stock Car Race series and was the HSR Sprint Challenge champion. He continued to race in historic stock car racing events and has accumulated 91 wins, to date. He also began buying and restoring older NASCAR race cars at this time.
In 2003, Felton was nominated to the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Felton was inducted into the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame. He had 12 championships, 50 total professional wins, 215 podium finishes, won 70 poles, and held or holds 63 records in a short professional career and 15 racing series. Gene Felton has driven for 42 teams and in cars built by 14 different manufacturers. He has been called "one of America's top road race drivers."
From 1992 to 2014, Felton restored road course race-ready cars along with other select race cars. Gene also raced in historic stock car racing events in which he has gathered over 45 wins.
Felton is a member of the Road Racing Driver's Club.
- "Records". Gene Felton Restorations. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "The Gene Felton Pages". Datsun.org. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "IMSAblog". Alex62.typepad.com. 1983-04-24. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "Georgia Racing History.com – Telling the stories of Georgia's Racing Heritage - Felton Remains Iron Man of the American Road". Georgiaracinghistory.com. 2010-09-30. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "Racing Cars For Sale | Track Days | Race Car For Sale". Genefeltonrestorations.com. 2001-02-17. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- The Summit Racing Web Development Team. (2009-10-07). "International Motorsports Hall of Fame Vote". Dragracecentral.com. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- Matt Murphey. "GRHOF Thunder Road Museum". Thunderroadusa.com. Retrieved 2012-04-19.