One year after Tazewell Speedway was opened by the Frazier’s a cigar smoking man decided to become part of its history. Using a car that was repossessed by his father Herman, Bud Sweet began working on his first racecar. A 1958 Ford was hand fitted with roll bars and took to the Taz to see its first racing action. Bud Sweet did not win his first race but it wasn’t long before the car made it to the checkered flag first. Following his first win his fellow competitors wanted to see what had got him fast enough to beat them so they protested and had the car inspected by track officials. The car was found to be legal and Sweet kept that first win. A group of people according to Bud soon partnered and purchased an old 1940’s flat head Ford coupe. “Doughbelly” Essary, Bill Williams and Randall Myers all had monetary interest in the car until Myers got tired of working on it every night and sold out his part. Racing alongside Sweet were; Jim Arnwine, Buddy Rogers, the Corums, Ray Neely, Eph Ghose, Lewis Epperson and Jack Trammell to name a few. Sweet said of his racing, “I never was one to argue and fight but my crew on the other hand had a few moments.” When speaking of his crashes he added, “I was lucky and I never flipped a car. My only bad crash happened when another car got into me and the collision left me with a very swollen arm.” Having no big money sponsors Sweet did a lot of work by himself and a few of his friends. Among them were; Henry Walker, Don Davis, Jim Sweet and others. All together he can remember 7-8 people helping him as the racing seasons passed. Sweet’s number 6 and 06 that he ran on his cars was a tribute to a driver he admired and loved to watch; Claude Donovan, who also ran the 6 on the side of his cars. Sweet’s car could be seen at any one of several tracks including Tazewell, 411, Atomic, Smoky Mountain, Kingsport, Corbin, Middlesboro and others. For 35 years he worked for the Tennessee State Forestry Service and spent a lot of that money on his racing cars. While running his cars in the street class he found a way to maximize his opportunities. He owned several cars that were in the race. If one of his cars couldn’t win he would use the tracks buy-out policy and simply purchase the winning car for $300 and let one of his friends drive it the following week. His most outrageous addition to the history of the Taz was his special project car that he created. He placed a VW Bug body on a 1940’s coupe frame and raced it at Tazewell Speedway. With his wife Joyce by his side he finally quit the racing and cigars both of which he enjoyed greatly. He has followed in his fathers shoes since 1976 by operating a used car business in Tazewell, Tennessee. Looking back at his racing career he managed to win over 20 feature races and was voted best sportsman and still has a championship trophy in his possession. Bud Sweet will forever be known as one of the Tazewell Speedway local legends.
Photos courtesy of family archives.
*Clarification: In last weeks article on the Trammell Family I stated that Jack Trammell had won one championship at Atomic speedway. Jack has a total of 6 Atomic Speedway championships.