~ Byron's Gasser Madness! ~

~ Rest in Peace ~

~ JJ Smith ~

Johnnie Wade “JJ” Smith

June 12, 1964 - March 24, 2008

I was going to try to write something about "Super Fan" JJ Smith.  He was a member of the Gas-FX email group and I had met him a few times at Thompson.  Instead, I'm including the final entry that Pam & Dennis Cox wrote on their JJ Blog which was posted after JJ was injured in an accident on March 13, 2008.  They said more about JJ and how everyone feels about him than I ever could!

Thanks Pam & Dennis.

We just got in from JJ's funeral. (That doesn't sound real yet). He would have been so proud of his family and friends for making it through the day. There were about 300 people in attendance and the service was a beautiful and personal representation of Johnnie Wade "JJ" Smith. Family and friends spoke about their experience of having him around-plenty of smiles and tears. The US Forest Service was represented by about 50 personnel who also served as pall bearers and provided an honor guard to the cemetery. The Valley Cruisers and others from JJ's community of car lovers and drag racers were well-represented too. A caravan of 25 street rods and cruisers escorted the hearse the 12 miles or so to the hill-top cemetery. JJ's house can be seen from his grave site-next to his Dad's. The church served a wonderful meal for all afterwards.

Among the people attending were his co-workers in the George Washington National Forest North River District office, his District Ranger, Forest Supervisor, the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area Forest Ranger, Lee Ranger District Forest Ranger, an Acting Deputy Forest Supervisor from Kentucky, several retired Forest Rangers and many others in the USFS uniform . JJ was only 300 miles short of completing a 6,000-mile challenge to personnel for covering the area of his district. His co-workers are finishing this task for him . One more little-known accomplishment of this guy! Thank you all for showing your respect to our friend in such a dignified and professional manner.

JJ's love for street rods, cruisers and drag racing was honored by many of his buddies -some drove their prized possessions in the rain to form a procession to the cemetery, many wore their club or event T-shirts proudly, all will miss his valuable contribution to this part of our lives. Among those attending were Wally Bell who had campaigned the 1964 Mercury Comet( formerly owned by Ronnie Sox) and drove pro-modified Chevys to national records in the 1970's and Kenny Warren, driver of a Ford factory Thunderbolt in 1964 and owner of the famous Virginia Twister Funnycar. A floral arrangement was sent by Diane Sox. She wrote a wonderful note about JJ so please go to Ronnie Sox website to check it out: http://www.ronniesox.com/home.html
Flowers were sent by Bruce Larson, National Hot Rod Association World Champion of 1989, and Dickie Estevez, owner and driver of the Daddy Warbucks Nostalgia Falcon.
Reed Koeppe sent us an e-mail that Dennis read, in part, at the funeral today :
"I talked to the Director (Nancy Wilson) of the East Coast Drag Times Reunion and I got the "OK" to have a special memorial/presentation for JJ at the reunion in Oct. ! Also, I trying to get some artwork done so I can have some decals/stickers made - imagine JJ in his wheelchair w/ wheelybars doing a burnout - w/ the words "Racing with us forever"(or words to that effect). A number of guys have already said that they'd put them on their race cars."
That lightened the mood a lot. Several other awards and nominations for Halls of Fame are being considered as well.
All this time we had been in the presence of a humble Super Star !

Saturday at 2pm we'll get together with some of you and continue some of these memories we have to share. See yesterday's post for details.

I'll close this blog down in a few days . It has been an honor and a privilege for Dennis and me to get to know all of you-whether you wrote in or not we feel the friendship that we all have in common for JJ and his family. We've gotten so much more than you can imagine from being able to have you all to be in touch with during this sad and difficult time. Love to all and thank you very very much.
Pam & Dennis Cox