Canton-born Phillip Coltrane passed away on March 26, leaving behind an illustrious three decade racing career that saw him win many races and cups throughout Georgia, as well as leave a lasting impact on his children.
“Ever since my dad was little, his goal in life was to be a race car driver,” said Phillips’ daughter Emilee Burns. “His parents would take him and his brother Jody to races and his love for the sport only grew more and more during that time. He didn’t even have a street car when he was 15, but he already had a race car. He started racing then and never looked back.”
Burns said that her father would read racing magazines all the time and other race related media. It was his passion and all he wanted to do. This passion for the sport led to him becoming a very loved individual in the racing community, she said.
Coltrane was a Super Late Model driver, which is the highest class that a driver can race on dirt. Burns said that her father traveled often in the early stages of his career, but eventually found a home at Dixie and Rome Speedways.
“My father won around 115 races total throughout his career,” Burns said. “I would say at least 40 of those wins came at Dixie Speedway. He did continue to travel from time to time later on his career, but Dixie and Rome Speedways were where he called home. Those wins meant more than just taking home a trophy because racing was his full-time job. If he didn’t win, we didn’t have money.”
He was also a fabricator for Phil Coltrane Racing, building and fixing race cars for different clients and he also helped them get set up on race day. Coletrane also used to run the Sugar Creek Raceway in Blue Ridge.
In the racing world, he was known as the “Free Home Flyer” and one of the most successful drivers to ever race in Georgia, but to Burns, he was just dad.
Burns said that her father taught her and her brother Jarrett to respect others and to earn the respect of those around them. He wanted them to be humble and to strive for greatness and be competitive, she said. She continued by saying that he wanted them to know that they could do anything if they worked hard and had the right mindset.
“He was a great racer, but he was also a fantastic father,” Burns said. “I am extremely proud of his accomplishments in racing and as my dad. A lot of people have come up to me over the years and said that my dad was their hero. He is my hero too, but for different reasons.”