Copyright 2023 © GretchenGriffith.com
Johnny Turner teams up with author Gretchen Griffith to present the many
adventures and misadventures of his notorious uncle, Claude Bishop Minton. This
larger than life innovator brought exciting tales to his family, bootleg whiskey to his
clients, and challenges to the revenuers who chased him through the woods. He
was a man ahead of his time, developing the first roller skating rink in western
North Carolina. He was a master craftsman, building not only stagecoaches, but
also surreys and Conestoga wagons.
Claude Minton was a master cook, selling his delicious concoctions in the front of his
several restaurant establishments even as he sold white lightning out the back. A
native of Wilkes County, North Carolina, the Moonshine Capital of the World, he
practiced his art not only in hidden mountain coves as he brewed batches of his
recipe, but also in plain view with television cameras rolling as he demonstrated the
process of manufacturing gasohol. Johnny considers himself fortunate to claim Claude
Minton as his uncle.
Like his Uncle Claude, author Johnny Turner has had many adventures of his own.
He has lived and worked in North Carolina his entire life, in textiles at Blue Bell
Industries, in furniture at both Caldwell and Bernhardt industries, and in advertising
at Appalachian Outdoor Advertising. His interest in writing comes from his years at
several newspapers, the Lenoir News Topic and the Lincoln Times and News. He
was the co-founder of the Caldwell Courier, a weekly newspaper in Hudson, North
At age ten Johnny began a passion for cars, owning his first car at age twelve. He
has restored antique cars, won awards at numerous local and national car shows
(Chattanooga, Tennessee; Roanoke, Virginia; and Charlotte, North Carolina), built
five race cars, and personally knows several vintage NASCAR drivers.
Two of his cars were leased to CBS for the movie, Shake, Rattle and Roll, and to
Senator John Warren III and son for the PBS television documentary, “The Curtis
Turner Story.” He has been a part of the pre-race parades at the Charlotte Motor
Speedway “600” and the Darlington “Southern 500.” For twenty-five years he has
operated an antique Ford parts business and in 2001 was one of only five (with
Junior Johnson, Ned Jarret, Roy Hill and Lee Holman, son of John Holman) invited to
be a part of the Ford Motor Company’s “100 Years of Racing” in Dearborn, Michigan.
In 2003 he drove Grand Marshall Junior Johnson around the Hickory Speedway for
their Fiftieth Year of Racing Celebration.
Gretchen Griffith’s husband, Van, introduced her to Johnny Turner, one of his golfing
friends, who had a request. Could she preserve the stories of his Uncle Claude? That
answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes,” and the months of research and writing began.
With this latest book, she adds to her collection of true life stories from the North
Carolina mountains. She is a former teacher whose interest in preserving history
through oral projects led her to become a self-proclaimed Storycatcher. Through her
work with the Gamewell History Committee in the North Carolina town where she
lives, she has discovered a love of interviewing and seeking out fascinating stories of
everyday citizens. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees are from Appalachian
State University, where she first developed an appreciation of mountain culture.
Wheels & Moonshine
The Stories and Adventures of Claude B. Minton
The North Carolina Society of
2014 Willie Parker Peace Book
Judges’ Collective Comments:
It was an experience reading this
book! We found Claude B. Minton,
his life and his antics, to be one of
the most colorful characters we
have read about in a long time. We
didn’t know what to expect from
him from page to page and after
reading on, we were not disappointed. We learned so much social history from
the text as well as some things we probably shouldn’t know about…we laughed
and we cried. And, when the last page was read, when 87-year-old ‘Uncle
Claude’ went ‘home’ and the book was closed…we felt honored to have ‘known’
him and we miss him already!
This book can be read in just a couple of hours, and these will be hours
well spent. The informative, reader-friendly text, is warm and inviting; and the
accompanying vintage photographs are wonderful. This book is simply perfect.