Chan­dler’s pres­ence will be felt at Bandimere Speed­way

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ben­jamin Arthur

When the 38th an­nual Mopar MileHigh Na­tion­als come to Bandimere Speed­way this week­end, there will be one per­son no­tice­ably ab­sent from the start line of each run.

Terry Chan­dler, once dubbed “the most in­flu­en­tial woman in drag rac­ing” — a woman known for her char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions to both the Make-A-Wish and In­fi­nite Hero Foun­da­tion funny car teams for Don Schu­macher Rac­ing — passed away July 4 of brain cancer.

Chan­dler was a fix­ture at events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Rac­ing Se­ries in the years lead­ing up to her death.

“She did so many things be­hind the scenes that people don’t know about,” said Tommy John­son Jr., the driver of the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger funny car. “She helped so many people, not just (the rac­ers).”

Chan­dler be­came a reg­u­lar at NHRA events when her brother, Johnny Gray, drove a funny car for DSR in 2011. But she quickly ex­tended her arms to others in the drag rac­ing com­mu­nity, like they were her fam­ily too. Soon af­ter her brother’s re­tire­ment in 2013, she added John­son as a driver. A few months later, when Jack Beck­man’s team ap­peared close to dis­solv­ing, she funded them too.

She called her­self the “head cheer­leader” of teams she spon­sored, John­son said.

“Her and I were al­most like mother and son,” John­son said. “It’s al­most like not hav­ing your mom at the races now. That’s the hard­est part.”

She will be most re­mem­bered for her abil­ity to com­bine her love of drag rac­ing with char­i­ta­ble causes. Chan­dler do­nated the brand­ing of Beck­man’s car to the In­fi­nite Hero Foun­da­tion, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to help­ing mil­i­tary veter­ans com­bat phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal chal­lenges.

On John­son’s car, she didn’t want the col­ors of “Chan­dler Avi­a­tion” — the com­pany she op­er­ated with her hus­band. In­stead, “Make-A-Wish” was painted on its ex­te­rior. And ev­ery Satur­day for Mello Yello se­ries events, Chan­dler would host Make-AWish kids and their fam­i­lies at the track, giv­ing them tours of the pit area and the Make-A-Wish race car.

Everything was done with an in­fec­tious smile and a redi­rect­ing of the spot­light from her­self to the causes that needed at­ten­tion.

“She’s go­ing to con­tinue to have an im­pact (in death),” Beck­man said. “We’ll keep mov­ing for­ward with the things she wanted us to do and keep chang­ing lives.”

Chan­dler won’t be present at the start line any­more, but her legacy with NHRA will live on.

“The clos­est you can get to im­mor­tal­ity is through chil­dren and mem­o­ries,” Beck­man said. “She’ll be im­mor­tal out (on the track) be­cause we’re go­ing to make sure that no one for­gets her.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.