Keeping The Legacies Alive: Jeff Gilder & Racer's

Credit: Jeff Glider
There is a profound quote by Marcus Garvey that I think speaks volumes about the importance of knowing about history. It states the following: "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin or culture is like a tree without roots." Although this quote was utilized during a different time and era, I believe that it can be applied to the aspect of knowing and embracing the historical aspects of the phenomenal sport of racing.

Innovative, passionate and a true racer to heart are just a few adjectives to describe Jeff Gilder. He is the the creater of and believes deeply in preserving the history of our great sport along with honoring those pioneers who are still here with us today. After this interview, you will definitely want to go "where legends and fans unite."

Unique Hiram (UH): Tell us a little about yourself (e.g. birthplace, current occupation & hobbies)
Jeff Gilder (JG): I was born and grew up in Northeast Tennessee in an area referred to as the Tri-cities (Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City). I am the founder and creator of RacersReunion®, Inc and the RacersReunion® Memory Lane Hall Of Fame. RacersReunion®, Inc utilizes our Social Radio Network, as a catalyst to reconnect former racing participants and fans.

I am also the managing partner of a company called Zeus Media Network, LLC. My hobbies, when I have time, are fishing and golf. I don’t do either one very well, but enjoy them both very much.

UH: How did your love for racing evolve? What made you interested in getting involved in promoting the historical factors of this sport?
JG: My father was a race fan and my earliest memory of racing goes back to the Sportsman Speedway in Johnson City, TN in 1959 or 1960. I would have been 4 or 5 years old. I remember a giant named Tiny (Lund) and a guy named Brownie (King) battling for the lead. My father and I used to listen to the races on AM radio on Sunday afternoons while fishing or sitting in the car under a shade tree in the yard. I always thought he knew the drivers because he called them by their first names - Ned, Junior, Curtis, Joe, Fireball, Lee, David, Paul, and Richard.

I remember him (my father) talking about one of our local heroes, Paul Lewis, running well in one of the early/mid 60’s Daytona races. I also remember him taking me by Paul’s shop one day and seeing his race car when I was maybe 9 or 10 years old - that was a treat.

I lost track of Paul until in the late 90s when I was racing stock cars. I had been racing on the local dirt tracks and was making my NASCAR Late Model Stock debut at Kingsport Speedway. I qualified last, Paul came up to me and offered to help. I knew the name was familiar but didn't realize who he was until after the race. I couldn't wait to tell my father that one of his heroes had helped me at the track.

Paul became my crew chief and we won races as well as a championship together. His passion was creating opportunities to reconnect fans and former drivers while making sure folks remembered the contributions of the early pioneers. Paul started a group called Racers Reunion about 20 years ago in Johnson City, TN, and I wanted to give something back to him for helping me.

Jeff Gilder interviewing Lil' Bud Moore
Credit: Unique Hiram
UH: What is the purpose behind the development of Racer’s
JG: I created to reconnect fans and drivers, crew, etc. To give folks a place to share photos, stories and memories. I felt it would further Paul Lewis’ dream and educate younger fans while giving older fans a walk down memory lane. The site was created as a social network and later included internet radio to entertain the members. Thus, the Social Radio Network concept was born. We use this network to promote our events as well as anything to do with preserving our racing heritage.

The network’s radio channel RacersReunion((RADIO)) now has seven weekly talk shows covering history, news, and interviews for Stock Cars, Drag racing, and Open Wheel racing. We recently added a show with 3-time Indy 500 champ Bobby Unser as host.

Taken at the first annual Love Chevrolet Columbia Speedway Racer's Reunion (Original Signage)
Credit: Unique Hiram
UH: There are two big events that the organization is involved with annually held at Columbia Speedway (Cayce, SC) & Memory Lane Museum (Mooresville, NC). Please tell us about those events.
JG: There are actually three now, since adding the Middle Georgia RacersReunion® this past March. The Columbia Speedway and Middle Georgia events are to reconnect fans and racing participants as well as celebrate the historical contributions of these historic venues. We include car shows, vintage race car displays and autograph sessions - much like Paul Lewis’ original Racers Reunion.

The event at Memory Lane Museum is our annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the RacersReunion® Memory Lane Hall of Fame. We have inducted 30 deserving honorees in the first two years. We want to recognize as many folks as possible while they are living and can enjoy being recognized for their very important contributions and popularization of auto racing.

UH: How can people get involved with any preservation projects (e.g. donating their time and/or resources)?
JG: We are always looking for those who would like to assist with our events and other activities. We need everything from manual labor to marketing assistance. Also, we are always open to those who might want become a marketing partner to help us further this cause.

UH: You have a broadcast program entitled “Here Women Talk” – what is the concept behind this show?
JG: is yet another Social Radio Network. This network is designed to bring women together on topics that interest them with social media, events, and radio. We recently launched a our third Social Radio Network,, as a partnership with the folks at The Celtic Force. Its purpose is to promote Celtic Music in the United States.

UH: Opinion – should there be a pension plan developed by NASCAR, which would provide former drivers with some type of economical assistance? (e.g. Sam Ard)
JG: I don’t think NASCAR can or will do this. When one considers the potential liability of such a move, it would seem to be far outside possibility. But there are organizations established to assist. The one that we support is “The Racing Legends Medical Hardship fund.” This was established over 20 years ago by the “Old Timers Racing Club” and has been assisting those in need ever since. They need support!

What I would love to see is for one of today’s racing stars to step forward and claim this fund (The Racing Legends Medical Hardship Fund) as his/her charity. Most of the drivers today represent some sort of worthwhile charity and their support of those charities is badly needed and certainly appreciated. But, this charity would support those who popularized this sport.

UH: What do you want your legacy to be due to your involvement with Racer’s Reunion?
JG: Hopefully, I can accomplish doing my part to give back to a sport that meant so much to me in my life. I want to ensure the future remembers the past. I want to make sure folks remember there were many who participated and even advanced our sport…making history without making headlines. We all contributed whether as fans, drivers, crew, owners, and family. I loved racing then and I love racing now. I am extremely grateful to all who contributed and to have an opportunity to do something to help preserve our racing heritage.

I would like to thank Jeff Gilder for allowing me the opportunity to interview him for this column. You can become a part of the Racer's Reunion community by going to: or you can join them on Facebook.


Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer for Skirts and Scuffs. "Keeping The Legacies Alive" is an original column that will showcase a variety of organizations and individuals who are working diligently to ensure that the history of our sport is preserved along with a little surprises along the way. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry." Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.
Keeping The Legacies Alive: Jeff Gilder & Racer's Keeping The Legacies Alive: Jeff Gilder & Racer's Reviewed by Unique Hiram on Friday, June 03, 2011 Rating: 5