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Total posts: 3279
posted August 25, 2001 04:48 PM UIN: 16262997


ASHLAND, KY - Thousands of people in the dirt late model racing community
paid their last respects to Chris Francis during Wednesday night's
visitation and Thursday morning's memorial service and funeral. Francis,
who died on Monday, was the brother and crew chief of United Dirt Track
Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series point leader Steve Francis.

"Thousands of people from dirt late model racing either came by during
visitation, the memorial service and the funeral, or sent cards and
flowers," Steve Francis said. "We are so grateful to everyone that has
taken the time to show how much they care for Chris and our family. We
felt so much love and understanding from our racing family, as much as we
would our own family. It has been a real comfort to us during this very
trying time."

Francis said among the long list of dirt late model people that came to
their final respects to his brother were Rick Eckert, Robbie Allen, Raye
Vest, Rodney Combs, Charlie Swartz, Dale McDowell, Shane McDowell, Tim Hitt,
Thomas Ware, Mike Balzano, Mark Richards, Gary Stanton, C.J. Rayburn, Ed
Petroff, Bob Miller, Brett Erick, Mike Swims, Roby Helm, Scott French,
Ritchie Lewis, Chad Haney, and Mike Price.

"There were just so many people that traveled a long way to pay their
respects to Chris and to offer their comfort and concern to our family that
I hate to not mention and remember everybody," Francis said. "I think I
have either seen or received flowers and cards from just about everyone
ever raced with, and every racing part manufacturer I've ever done business
with. I just want everyone to know our entire family appreciates all of
them so much. It has just been overwhelming."

One manufacturer, Ringers Gloves, has honored Chris Francis by announcing
they will sponsor the UDTRA Chris Francis Crew Chief of the Year Award.
UDTRA Chris Francis Crew Chief of the Year will receive $500 and a special
eather jacket.

Francis said he will continue his racing career, and he said he has
received some tremendous support in that area as well. Francis traveled
Florence Speedway in Union, KY on Friday to compete in the STARS Series
50-lap event, and he will also compete in the UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series
North-South 100 on Saturday night.

"Mark Richards and his entire crew at Rocket Chassis has made my return
racing so much easier, as they have provided me a car to race this weekend,"
Francis said. "They were going to run two cars, one for me and one for
Aukland. Rick said that would be too much trouble, so he is going to run
his own car this weekend, so I can't thank him enough for what he has done.
I have had offers from some pretty good drivers and teams that have offered
to park their own equipment to come and help me for the rest of the season."

Francis fell short of making the 50-lap STARS event through his consolation
race, but took a STARS champion's provisional. Francis charged from the
back of the pack to a 12th-place finish.

"It was hard coming back to the race track without Chris, but this has
turned out to be the best therapy me and my family could have," Francis
said. "The racing people are a real family, and they have been so loving
and understanding. We've got the first night back behind us now, and that
was the hardest thing to deal with. We will have our car back on the track
next week at Atomic."

Rev. Sam Williams, who co-officiated Chris Francis' memorial service on
Thursday, probably said it best, and put everything in prospective for the
family and the dirt late model racing community.

"Chris would want everyone to now go on to the next race and do their best
to win it, and then win another, and another, and another," Williams said.
"Chris Francis was a Master Crew Chief and that's what he did, win races,
and that's what he encouraged other to do as well."

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