AP NEWS

Howard Juckett raced through life, ignoring all bumps in the road

November 10, 2018

Howard Clarence Juckett’s brief obituary spoke volumes about the way he lived his life.

Under a photo of him giving a thumbs-up, a broad smile just visible from inside his racing helmet, the death notice declared that Juckett, 70, had “crossed the finish line of a good life.”

It was a fitting tribute to a celebrated maker of friends and a passionate dirt-bike racer. He competed for decades until health problems took him off the track for good in 2012. A room at his home is filled with trophies and plaques. In the garage, a shiny-clean motorcycle is propped up by a kickstand.

His wasn’t an easy life, but his family and friends say you wouldn’t know it. There were cancer scares and heart surgeries. A valve was replaced, and he underwent a full heart transplant on Christmas Eve 2007. Most recently, he suffered from complications related to a kidney transplant. He died on Oct. 30.

“He never let his medical issues hinder him from being a joy to everyone he was around,” his widow, Christine Juckett, told The Enterprise. “He even went racing a year after having a heart transplant.”

Don’t believe her? The transplant surgeon, Dr. Reynolds Delgado III of St. Luke’s, has a framed photo of the race. Juckett is there, rounding a crowded curve on an orange motorcycle.

Juckett’s racing career took him from the 1983 Texas State Championship Enduro Circuit, where he finished eighth, to the 2012 Grand National Cross-Country motorcycle races in Unadilla, N.Y., where he took second place.

Juckett’s other knack was for making friends wherever he went, including Cowboy Powersports, where he worked. But his closest friend was the woman he married 38½ years ago.

“We didn’t have kids, so we were each other best friends,” Christine Juckett recalled. “He made friends wherever he went, and everyone loved to be around him.”

His passion for racing rubbed off on Caelen Wellsmoor Evans, his wife’s sister’s son. Juckett taught Evans how to harness two wheels and a powerful engine around a bumpy dirt track at high speeds.

“My nephew wasn’t even interested in dirt bikes before Uncle Howie began to talk with him about it,” Christine Juckett said. “Within a year that Caelen began racing, he won a race in his class. He went from not knowing anything about dirt bikes to winning a race in his class.”

Clint Boyd, who met Juckett in Beaumont 30 years ago, described his friend as the kind of guy anybody would like to be around.

“Howard was a hard worker, he had a lot of friends, and didn’t have an enemy,” Boyd said. “He was never a quitter, but a go-getter.”

meshach.sullivan@beaumontenterprise.com

twitter.com/Its_Meshach

AP RADIO
Update hourly