Racing-themed casket takes beloved WNC racing fan on victory lap

A Buncombe County man found a unique way to pay tribute to his dad, who was known for his need for speed. For years, ...

Posted: Dec 19, 2017 4:27 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2017 4:27 PM

A Buncombe County man found a unique way to pay tribute to his dad, who was known for his need for speed. For years, Ted Caldwell was part of a social circle at the old Asheville Motor Speedway, and that source of identity stayed with him to the very end.

Ted's son, Jeff Caldwell, gave his late father's casket a racing inspired makeover.

"There's no telling what he'd do. I think he'd love it," Jeff said, fighting back tears.

Ted died earlier month at 80 years old. Together, they started Jeff's Auto Sales in Leicester 30 years ago.

At the Sign 1 shop in Arden, the goal was to transform our view of transportation for an unforgettable victory lap of sorts.

"When the guy told me most are steel these days, I went, 'Really?'" owner Dean Jones said.

"You know he likes speed, I think he likes speed," he said of his friend Ted. "It's a warm fuzzy situation, you know."

Warm, fuzzy and fitting, Jones explained.

"We'll do this for Ted," he said as workers applied racing decals to the casket. "Man, the guy's just so genuine!"

To Ted, the happiest place on earth was a race track. He was a crew member for driver Ronnie Silver.

Jeff recalls many fond family memories at Asheville Motor Speedway.

"Oh, that makes you smile. That's his happy time, you know," Jeff said. "That's when he was happiest. He just liked to hear the talk and laugh and cut up."

Which explains why something like this was bound to happen some day. Sadly, that day came two weeks ago.

"Just fulfilling Jeff's request, that's all," Jones said. "Ted would be all smiles. There's hardly a time you would see Ted without a smile on his face."

At first, the casket with a No. 88 might catch you by surprise.

"It doesn't creep me out, not me personally," Jones said.

Jeff hopes maybe it gave everyone who knew his dad a reason to smile through tears.

"Just talk about all the good times," Jeff said, his eyes tearing up. "All the jokes he's done, all the things he did and playing around and stuff like that. "

Good times make him long for more. Ted and his wife Susie were married nearly 57 years.

"I went there every morning to see my mom, every morning, and I'd go out there early," Jeff said, as emotions welled up. "And sleeping in his chair and take a little nap before work and stuff."

The simple moments bring him comfort and pain. Loved ones pray Ted's on the fast track to a better place.

After Ted's funeral, pallbearers carried his casket to the truck he rode countless times.

"That's what he did for the last four or five years, everywhere that rollback went to get cars, he was in the passenger seat of it," Jeff explained.

The racing decals are the sign of a life well lived, but they're also the mark of a man well loved.

The finality of it all sinks in as his widow Susie looked on. You can't help but wonder what Ted would would say. At the end of the day -- at the end of the road -- it seems appropriate that this is how he got to the finish line.

"This is the checkered flag, the final race," Jonesn said. "The race is finally done."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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