They Did it His Way

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Story written by Joan Young

My brother-in- law, Jack Holden, was a regular at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois. He loved watching people race cars. He sponsored several young, enthusiastic drivers and had a prime seat high in the stands, next to the finish line.

When my brother-in- law became ill, his son drove him to the speedway and, in the car, they watched the races from a special place alongside the track. When Jack was put on hospice care, he talked with my sister and requested that, before his burial, his body be driven around the racetrack three times. This certainly seemed like an odd request, but here’s how that request was carried out.

A special room at the speedway became the place where Jack’s body was waked for one memorable evening. There were flowers and many pictures from his life. There was a room full of people — regulars at the speedway, friends and family. The speedway chaplain started the evening off by saying a few words about Jack, his relationship with him and Jack’s love of car racing.

Next, the microphone was passed around and people told funny stories and expressed their heartfelt feelings for Jack. This had family members and friends alike, in tears.

After everyone’s kind words, Jack’s body was loaded into a beautiful white hearse and driven on to the racetrack. Five vehicles were lined up in processional fashion – a lead truck, the hearse, a sports car (driven by one of Jack’s sons), and two other racecars. The green flag signaled the start of the race. The cars slowly proceeded around the track for two laps. At the beginning of the third lap, the white flag was raised to signal that being the final lap. The cars continued their pace around the track until about two thirds of the way through the final lap. At that time, the driver of the hearse veered to his right and punched up the speed of the vehicle. As they came around to the finish line, the hearse overtook the lead vehicle, the checkered flag came down, and Jack won the race! It was a spectacular sight.

And, yes, they did it his way.



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