Right now I am not even sure where to begin because I already know that there just aren’t any words that would do justice in describing the impact my Papa made in the lives of the people in my family and the friends that he loved. However, his recent passing changed the lives of our family and impacted us all in a huge way, therefor, I want to share glimpses of his life. He was an amazing person and led an awesome life and I feel like it would be great to share pieces of it on here.
There are many aspects of my Papa’s life that I would love to reminisce on. As a teenager he became involved in the racing scene and that would become a huge part of his life. Not only was racing a major portion of my Papa’s life, it was also embedded in life of my cousin, Tommie Clinard Jr. My cousin began racing go-karts at a young age and now he races his race car at various dirt tracks. Lately, he has been racing at a great dirt track in Swainsboro and has done really well. My Papa took great pleasure in following Tommie’s racing progress. Although, as Papa could not physically be at most of his grandson’s races, he still played a pretty big part in that aspect of his life. After every race, no matter how late he finished, he always called Papa and gave him a detailed summary of each race. That meant so much to my Papa. Papa stayed up late waiting for that phone call each night Tommie raced.
Our family is very close, so when someone in the family celebrates something special or has an event or ballgame or anything important, we show up. When anyone in the family has a birthday, we ALL go to my Grandma and Papa’s to celebrate their special day. Grandma always has a great cake that the birthday person chose. So, when we found out that my cousin would be spreading my Papa’s ashes on the Swainsboro track, of course our family showed up. It felt like such an honor to get to be there. We later found out that the track officials would be helping us honor my Papa in that way, they stepped up and made it special for us.
Last week, my mom asked my to write a summary of my Papa’s life achievements because the track officials would be describing the life of my Papa, so that they could announce parts of his life during a part of the race. This meant a great deal to us and I was honored that I was able to write about his sweet life. Below are the words that I used to pay tribute to his life. I want to never forget what I wrote so I am sharing those words here on my blog.
Tommie Clinard Jr., driver of the 3x, enjoys regularly racing his super street car each weekend. He is also the grandson of Milton Thomas Clinard, who went by the name, Tommie. From the time Tommie was a teenager, up until the moment he passed, much of his life centered around racing. Tommie began racing in south Florida when he was just a teenager. He actually raced his first race by telling a white lie, he told a car owner that he had a bit more experience under his belt than he actually had, but none the less, he went on to finish second that night, which was an accomplishment for sure! It wasn’t discovered until his third race that he was just a novice.
Around this same time, a cute girl, known as Marilynn, was a frequent fan of the same races that Tommie raced in. Marilyn’s dad was the flagman, her mom served in the souvenir shop, and Marilynn typed up the newspaper for each of the races. The very first time that Tommie met Marilynn at the race track, he told his buddies that she would one day be his wife, it was love at first sight. And sure enough, just a couple of years after their first encounter, Marilynn and Tommie wed in south Florida.
Tommie and his wife would soon move to Macon, Ga, where Tommie continued to race his 3x car all over the southeast. He was actually the very first driver to race his car at Byron Speedway. Marilynn and Tommie went on to start a family and they began to raise their children around the racing scene, Tommie continued racing on weekends, as he served as a Macon police officer when he wasn’t racing against drivers on the track. Tommie had the opportunity of racing against drivers such as, Bill Elliot, Richard Petty, and Bobby Allison, just to name a few of the well known NASCAR drivers that we still look up to today.
In 1976, Tommie Clinard decided it would be best to hang the keys to his beloved 3x car, but he would go on to serve the racing community well into his retirement. Tommie played a huge part in serving the southeast division of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, as he spent a few years as secretary for the organization, which he took great pride in, as did his family and close friends. Tommie was also very determined to help found the racer’s reunion at Byron Speedway, he dedicated so much of his time and energy to the efforts of making this event a success. He was later nominated into GARHOF not once, but twice. All of this is to say that there wasn’t too much that took importance over his racing career, even after he retired from the sport.
However, his family is something he treasured more than racing cars and today we have members of his immediate family, including his wife Marilynn, out here to honor his love for racing. Racing was truly embedded into his heart at a young age and his dedication to this sport never died.
Sadly, Tommie went on to be with Jesus this year, yet, he still very much lives on in the hearts of the people he held dear to his heart. Not only has Tommie’s grandson Tommie Jr. inherited the Clinard racing gene, his great grandson, Brendan Campbell, enjoys racing his go-kart at various tracks, in his grandpa’s honor. So, tonight let’s all come together and help his family celebrate his legacy.
Tommie Jr. will be racing his 3x car tonight, we know that Tommie very much believed in his grandson’s racing abilities and took great pride in the fact that he adopted the 3x from him. Let’s all try and encourage Tommie Jr. tonight as he races his 3x super street in honor of his beloved granddad. God Bless.
I have to admit, I didn’t cry at my Papa’s funeral. I was still so much in shock. However, I am glad that I wore sunglasses last night and I was also happy that I forgot to wear mascara because I cried throughout the night at my cousin’s race last night. My aunt’s boyfriend, Mike, was sweet enough to buy everyone in my family a t-shirt in remembrance or my Papa and they turned out great! They really represented Papa well. I am sure there were at least twenty people there last night wearing that purple shirt, I was incredibly thankful that Mike provided these for everyone, it was the kindest gesture.
Last night was not even about my cousin Tommie performing well. It was about representing our Papa’s legacy and Tommie went above and beyond in exceeding just that. As he rode around that spreading our Papa’s ashes throughout that track, I cried as my Papa rode with Tommie for his last lap around that track, I don’t think I have ever been more proud of my cousin! My family’s relentless love for one another and their support for one another, no matter what they were going through, has made the biggest impact in my life. I just want to thank my cousin and the Swainsboro race track for allowing us to represent my Papa and for letting all of us stand on their track as my cousin rode around the track spreading Papa’s ashes. It was an incredible moment, I know that I will never forget it.
My Papa led an amazing life, a life that I am more than proud to be a part of. I know that my family will continue to keep his spirit alive. He was a great person; if you were blessed enough to call him a friend or family member, you know that he would do anything for you. I miss him. I love him.