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Nemechek eulogized as someone who ‘loved life, his family and racing’

March 25, 1997

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) _ More than 500 mourners attended a funeral Mass Monday for NASCAR truck series driver John Nemechek, eulogized as a warm, unselfish man.

The 27-year-old driver from Lakeland died Friday of brain injuries suffered in an accident March 16 at the Metro-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex.

The Rev. Patrick Sheedy, a family friend and former pastor at St. Joseph’s, eulogized Nemechek as a warm, open individual whose life was shaped by strong family values and a willingness to help others.

Nemechek’s decision to donate his organs so that ``others would have the opportunity to improve their quality of life″ demonstrated his concern for those around him, Sheedy said.

``It was indicative of his life,″ Sheedy said. ``He wanted to extend himself to those who had less than he had.″

Several prominent members of the racing community were in attendance at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, including two of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison; current Winston Cup drivers Greg Sacks and Brett Bodine; and Busch series driver Todd Bodine, Brett’s brother.

Nemechek’s casket, draped in a white cloth, sat at the base of the altar, and a photo of Nemechek in his driver’s uniform was to the right of the pulpit.

Instead of questioning why Nemechek died or becoming bitter, ``the family has not, for one minute, grumbled or condemned,″ Sheedy said, a testament to the ``strength of their own faith.″

``John was fortunate to have such a loving environment to grow up in,″ Sheedy said. ``He was a very down-to-earth, decent, honorable, faith-based young man.″

Joe Nemechek, John’s older brother and a NASCAR Winston Cup driver, called his brother ``a great man with a limitless future.″

``He was a hard worker and pursuing his dreams in racing,″ Nemechek said. ``He was a person that loved life, his family and racing. He believed in God and knew that God would guide him in the right direction.

``His time on earth, although short, was a gift from God our family will forever treasure.″

After the Mass, Nemechek’s body was taken from the church to be cremated.

The family returned to Mooresville, N.C., where a memorial service was planned Tuesday.

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