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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Mom and caregiver, 68, fulfills lifelong dream of driving race car

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Judy Thurmond of RoEllen pauses before sliding into the driver's seat of a professional racecar and pulling out onto the track at Memphis International Raceway. A lifelong dream, the grandmother who confesses to have 'a heavy foot' was presented with a chance to participate in the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience for Mother's Day this May. The gift was courtesy of Thurmond's four children. 'I have wanted to do this since I was 18,' said Thurmond. 'To go around a racetrack as fast as I can go.'
Judy Thurmond of RoEllen believes in living life to the fullest.

Daily, she shows her heart for family by serving as caregiver for three of her most precious loved ones. She pampers them with gourmet meals and a laid-back attitude that allows them to enjoy each day to the fullest.

The wife of Jim Thurmond, Thurmond cares for her mother and father-in-law, Roy and Venice Thurmon, also of the RoEllen community. The Thurmons, 99 and 98 years old, respectively, celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary on Nov. 21. Judy Thurmond also serves as caregiver for her husband, who has suffered two severe strokes and cannot speak.

As the lively Thurmond focuses her energy on others, her children do their best to ensure their mother finds time to relax and pamper herself, as well.

This Mother's Day, Thurmond's children, Stephen Thurmond, Amber Carlson, Lara Thurmond and Jonathan Thurmond joined together to give Judy Thurmond a very special gift. One that both revved up her engine and crossed an item off of her bucket list.

On Sunday, Nov. 3, the 68-year-old Thurmond hopped into an official NASCAR racer and completed nearly a dozen laps around Memphis International Raceway in Millington.

"I have great kids," said Thurmond. "They did this for me for Mother's Day. I've always had a heavy foot and I have wanted to do this since I was 18 -- to go around a racetrack as fast as I can go."

As a participant of the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience, Thurmond enjoyed the thrill of the fast lane behind the wheel of a souped-up Dodge Charger race car. In fact, she enjoyed it so much, she took an extra lap.

"I went between 100 and 110 miles per hour," said Thurmond. "The car was set to go 155, but they told us in the class that none of us would go that fast. I just wanted a straight stretch so I could get it to go as fast as I could. I was having so much fun, I overran the exit so I had to go an extra lap.

Although the chance to drive a professional racecar did not include the chance to meet former NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace, Judy Thurmond thinks she just might want to take another spin around the track. The energetic Thurmond, who cares for three very special people every day, earned the treat that has been on her bucket list her entire adult life as a Mother's Day present from her children. She cashed it in this autumn.
"You go three rounds with a professional to get a feel of the track," continued Thurmond. "You get a feel of how to do the turns. They tell you, 'lift and left'. Lift your foot off the gas and turn sharp left to stay off the (elevated portion of the track). They are speaking into your headphones so you know what to do the whole time."

Although Thurmond took to the track well, her children's favorite part of the day was watching their mother climb in and out of the race car. Jonathan Thurmond was unable to attend, but twin granddaughters Trista and Sadie were on hand to share in their grandmother's special day.

"I am a positive thinker," said Thurmond. "I love life to a passion. I think you have to enjoy life. I have great kids. I have a wonderful husband and great in-laws. ... And I like to go fast. I've got to go back."

Thurmond enjoyed sharing her special gift with her children and grandchildren. She also enjoys sharing their thoughts of her experience.

"(Stephen) said, 'The race wasn't near as much fun as watching you get in and out of the car.' You had to slide in through the window, but it was getting out that was the problem," said Thurmond. "(Trista and Sadie) just thought it was so cool that Ju-Ju got into a race car."

Items already checked off Thurmond's bucket list include parasailing and taking glamour shots. (For someone who hates to have her photograph taken, the glamour shots might have been a bit more challenging than racing around the track at speeds over 100 miles per hour.)

But, it seems her children have their own experiences to add to their mother's list.

"Stephen said 'Next year, Lara turns 40 and we are all going to parachute together -- and you are going with us!'"

Thurmond laughs heartily.

"I don't know about that ..."

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