Purvis' tire changer looking forward to Mother's Day, opportunity to spend it with both parents. DAYTONA BEACH (May 8, 2002) - Mother's Day, a special occasion to begin with, is even more so this year for Ken Christerson's family. That's because...
Purvis' tire changer looking forward to Mother's Day, opportunity to spend it with both parents.
DAYTONA BEACH (May 8, 2002) - Mother's Day, a special occasion to begin with, is even more so this year for Ken Christerson's family. That's because his father will be there to help celebrate.
Christerson, a member of Jeff Purvis' pit crew, will be at New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday for the Busch 200. Then he'll be off to Central City, Ky., to the home of his parents Ouida and Tom, who have been married 54 years.
They call Ouida "Speedy", a nickname that surprisingly has nothing to do with racing.
They call Tom a miracle.
Tom Christerson is 71 years old. The last 238 days of those 71 years has been made possible by a self-contained artificial heart, called the AbioCor heart. Tom is the longest-living AbioCor recipient. As one might imagine, this is a world record that Tom wants to keep building.
"I've lost count of the days," Tom said.
Ouida hasn't. She'll know that Mother's Day will be Day No. 242.
"It's going to be wonderful," said Ouida, who got her nickname as a child, because of her"on-the-move" behavior."With Mother's Day, Father's Day next month and our first great-grandchild coming about May 16 these are great times."
"This is all sort of unbelievable," added Tom.
Ken Christerson is a rear-tire changer for Purvis' No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac. The team is in the thick of the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division championship hunt, with a race victory at Texas Motor Speedway the season highlight so far.
Away from the track, the highlight of Ken's season has been the remarkable recovery by his father after surgery last September in Louisville. That recovery was aided by visits from a variety of celebrities, including Muhammad Ali.
"It's been pretty tough [to work]," Ken said."I took some time off in the winter [to be with him]. Then, around the first of the year he started showing some improvement so I came back to the team on a part-time deal."
Next up: Tom Christerson might come back to the races to watch Ken on pit road first-hand. Tentative plans call for Tom to attend the Kroger 300, a NASCAR Busch race set for June 15 at Kentucky Speedway. Meantime, Ouida said,"he's still enjoying the racing [on television]."
It's part of enjoying life. Life will be good Sunday, next to a partner of 54 years and a loving family that has resulted from that partnership.
"Every year," Tom Christerson said,"really is a blessing."
(Note: NASCAR wishes to thank Dennis Punch (dpunch37#aol.com), public relations representative for the No. 37 NASCAR Busch Series team, for bringing this story to our attention. A feature story on Tom Christerson was written by Dylan T. Lovan of the Associated Press in mid-March.)
ON THE RIGHT TRACK:
* NASCAR Busch Series point leader Jason Keller (No. 57 Albertsons Ford) is defending champion of the Busch 200; he finished third in the 2000 race.
NEWS OF NOTE:
* Parity and then some... Parity in the NASCAR Busch Series is a constant. This season, for instance, there have been six different winners in the first 10 races. At New Hampshire International Speedway, though, parity is taken to a new level. In the 15 previous NASCAR Busch races at NHIS, there have been 15 different winners.
* Paint scheme entails patriotic theme for past champion... Randy LaJoie's No. 7 Kleenex/Nortel Networks Chevrolet will have a special patriotic paint design for four upcoming races on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule. In conjunction with Kleenex's" star-spangled" facial tissue package design promotion that is ongoing, LaJoie's car will have a red, white and blue design for four designated races: the Coca-Cola 600, May 25 at Lowe's Motor Speedway (Memorial Day weekend); the Kroger 300, June 15 at Kentucky Speedway (Flag Day weekend); the GNC Live Well 240, June 30 at The Milwaukee Mile; and the Stacker2/GNC Live Well 250, July 5 at Daytona International Speedway (race dates before and after July 4). The car will have reflective paint and decals for the Kentucky and Daytona races, which are at night.
* Etc.... Veteran Joe Bessey returns to the NASCAR Busch Series this week, attempting to qualify the No. 06 Aubuchon Hardware Chevrolet for the Busch 200. Bessey, from Maine, has won three NASCAR Busch North Series races at NHIS... The Carroll Racing team announced this week that Lyndon Amick is being replaced in the No. 26 Dr Pepper Chevrolet by Ron Hornaday Jr. Hornaday is slated to drive the next five races, starting with the Busch 200. Hornaday, a two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, has driven six NASCAR Busch races this season as a replacement for the injured Ricky Hendrick. Hornaday has two wins, seven top 5s and 18 top 10s in 58 NASCAR Busch starts... David Green is slated to drive the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet, replacing Johnny Benson, who suffered a broken rib in an accident last weekend at Richmond International Raceway.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"My mom was pretty much a speed demon and dare devil herself. She was always wide open when she drove a car. To this day, and she's 70 now, I'll never know how she keeps her license. She's had her share of speeding tickets. She's probably had as many as I have, without a doubt.'' - NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Hut Stricklin, with some Mother's Day remembrances of his mom, Vivian.
FROM THE ARCHIVES:
New Hampshire International Speedway opened in 1990, and its first event was a NASCAR Busch Series race. That was the Budweiser 300, won by Tommy Ellis. Jimmy Hensley had the pole for that race.