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Locust Grove racer laid to rest

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Friends and fans of local drag racer, Jeff Brown, are remembering him for his love of the sport, and for being "a good guy."

A funeral service for Brown, 47, of Locust Grove, was held Saturday at Martin & Hightower Funeral Home in Carrollton. Brown died Wednesday at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, after being injured in a crash Sept. 10, during a Friday Night Drags event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) in Hampton.

Steve Kidd, of McDonough, has know Jeff Brown since 1980, and said he witnessed Brown's crash at AMS. Kidd, in the days following the incident, told the Henry Daily Herald that Brown was approaching the finish line during a drag race, when his vehicle malfunctioned at roughly 150 miles per hour.

"A bolt came out, which caused the car to turn to the immediate right," said Kidd, 47. "He had no control. It was not a driving error. Before [the car] even got to the grass, it was on two wheels and started flipping."

Kidd was not available for comment following Brown's death. However, Kidd's wife, Terri, spoke on behalf of her husband. She said the passing of Brown has deeply affected Steve Kidd and others who shared Brown's love of racing.

"I know it's very difficult for everybody around [Brown], especially race-car drivers," said Terri Kidd, 51. "He had no enemies. Jeff was genuine. He was a unique person. He was like a brother to Steve. He was just a good guy, ever since I met him."

Jerilynn Robinson, of Hampton, organized a benefit for Brown on Sept. 19, at AMS, prior to the driver's death. Robinson said losing Brown has hit the Brown family and friends hard, and added that the racer died living his dream.

"His dream was to be a drag racer," said Robinson, 37. "He would want everybody to live their dreams, too."

Two additional events have been scheduled in Brown's honor, according to Robinson. The first, she said, will be a car wash and car show Oct. 9, at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Fayetteville, at 221 Banks Station.

Another fund-raiser is scheduled to take place Oct. 24, during a driver's banquet and car show at AMS, Robinson continued. The purpose of both events is to collect additional donations on Brown's behalf, to help his family with hospital bills, she said.

Damon Cantrell, 40, of Fayetteville, participated in the Sept. 19 car show in Brown's honor. Cantrell said $6,600 was raised. "We were going to use that for his medical expenses and rehabilitation," said Cantrell. "But, it ended up being used for some of the funeral expenses."

Cantrell added that he spent time counseling Brown's family and praying with them, before the racer died, and was surprised by the news of Brown's death. Brown, said Cantrell, had appeared to be on the road to recovery.

"I was a little shocked, especially after hearing that he had opened his eyes on the 19th," said Cantrell.

Cantrell said Brown's mother, Patsy Brown Gillespie, is particularly "devastated" by her son's death. "She's lost her baby boy," Cantrell said.