LINCOLN, NE (December 19) -- The O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series is mourning the passing of former Eagle Raceway Promoter John Beecham, who died peacefully in his home Wednesday evening.

Beecham, his wife, Laura, and brother, Marty, bought Eagle Raceway in the fall of 1983 and built it into one of the premier dirt racing facilities in the country. The O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series ran 20 events, including the Eagle Nationals and the 1/3-Mile Short-Track Nationals, at Eagle Raceway before the Beechams sold the facility to Craig Cormack in the spring of 1997. John was a finalist in the 1990 National Race Track Promoter of the Year balloting.

"We had a lot of good years together and a lot of fun," Marty said Thursday, recalling the years he promoted O'Reilly World of Outlaws Series races with his brother at Eagle Raceway. "I remember the first race we ever ran there, Ted (Johnson) walked in and asked, 'Are we a week early?' The track was ready; we were just putting in new bleachers. The race track was a lot of fun for us. It was a lot of work, but it was a lot of fun.

"Last night, the priest who was there said (of John), 'He ran full speed all the time. He got things done that people with two good legs never got done.'"

Beecham, who was born on September 4, 1944, graduated from Palmyra (NE) High School in 1962. After serving as a Drill Sergeant in the Army Reserve, he started working for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company as a janitor in 1963 and retired as a foreman of the belt division and a member of the Factory Council in 1998.

John married his high school sweetheart, Laura Golden, in June of 1996. He became a quadriplegic due to injuries suffered in a diving accident on Labor Day, 1981. Laura was John's sole caregiver until her death on April 9, 2003. Due largely in part to his indomitable spirit and Laura's dedication, John lived life fully and with dignity despite being confined to a wheelchair for the last 22 years. For those who knew him, he was a role model of courage and determination.

Survivors include his daughters, Amy Beecham, Anne Christensen and her husband, John, and son, David, and his wife, Laura, and his grandchildren, Rebecca, Grady and Mason Beecham and Sam and Will Christensen. John is survived by four brothers, Jerry, Bob, Pat and Marty and three sisters, Margaret Skean, Mary Kay Gerken and Jean LeBlanc, along with numerous nieces and nephews. John's parents, Bill and Marie Beecham of Palmyra, preceded him in death.

A wake service will be held at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, beginning at 7 p.m., Friday. The funeral service will begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Memorials may be addressed to:
The Foundation for Knowledge
Dist. OR1
Box 130
Palmyra, NE, 68418.