Street-racer reminisces

Published 9:58 am Friday, June 22, 2012

Red Artis used to race this 1966 Chevelle SS 454 on the streets of Franklin. -- Gwen Albers | Tidewater News

Red Artis has slowed down.

The 72-year-old was once a regular on the Franklin street-racing circuit, running his 1966 Chevelle SS 454 up to 100 mph through the downtown and on South Street.

“I used to do it every week,” Artis said. “I got 13 tickets one night for street racing from (Franklin police officer) Jeff Barnes.”

Artis still has the Chevelle, which he purchased for $350 from his brother, Harry Artis, around 1983-84. The car is mostly original except for the engine that Red rebuilt.

“I had fun (in that car),” the Franklin man said about his racing days, noting that people would line the streets to watch.

Claiming he’s too old to race, Red still likes to take the car out for leisure rides. Retired from Hayes Body Shop, he has no intention of selling the Chevelle.

• Elsie Reese of Franklin on June 16 attended graduation at Southampton High School for the youngest of her nine grandchildren. Reece Britt is the son of Robert and Gloria Britt, who hosted a graduation party at their Franklin home on Edgehill Drive.

All seven of Elsie’s children attended the party, including her son, Rahard, who lives in Chicago.

• Mary Belton’s niece, Cecilia Jones of Franklin, recently graduated from Paul D. Camp Community College.

Mary, who lives in Franklin, is also planning a weeklong trip to Patterson, N.J., where she formerly lived. Mary will take her nephew, Makyle Jones, 12, of Franklin with her so he can visit his grandfather.

Mary’s also excited about a project at her church. Members of First Baptist Church in Franklin are attempting to raise $40,000 in four months for a bus that will be used for transporting parishioners to events.

• Thomas Rollins of Capron will turn 85 on Sunday, July 24. A retired farmer and bus mechanic for Southampton County Public Schools, Thomas also won a $25 gift card for being the oldest father at Galilee Baptist Church on Sunday for Father’s Day.

His children are Thaddeus Rollins of Atlanta, a government inspector who is also retired from the Air Force; Thelma Gilchrist of Richmond, a social worker in Petersburg; Audrey Jones of Richmond, who works for the Defense Supply Center; Larry Rollins of Richmond, who is retired from the Air Force and works for a tobacco company; and Deborah Smith of Capron, who works for Southampton County Public Schools.

• Matthew Lee, a 2012 graduate of Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, received a $2,000 Anne Watt Scholarship from the Spouses Club of Fort Eustis.

The 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union created this scholarship in Anne Watt’s honor to recognize her performance during her career.

Four-star General Robert Cone, the Commanding General at Fort Eustis, presented Matt his award and one of his coins normally awarded to soldiers for exceptional performance.

GWEN ALBERS is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is