Cold, rainy weather may have washed out the drag racing program last weekend but it couldn’t slow down the Central Roadracing Association’s Superbikes and it certainly didn’t dampen the spirits of those who showed up to honor Jed Copham.
The second weekend of the Bracket Drag Racing Series was scheduled to be on the drag strip but Mother Nature wouldn’t cooperate. The main event, though, wasn’t rained out. That was the Celebration of Life, a big party for Jed, who died tragically last fall in a boating accident. BIR opened the gates to the public and anyone who wanted to pay tribute to Jed, his life and his legacy.
The evening kicked off with a slow lap around BIR’s historic 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course. Leading the pack was Jed’s 1931 Model A hot rod, which he and his dad rebuilt in high school to drag race at BIR. Behind the Model A were about 275 cars, trucks, golf carts, motorcycles, race cars and pit bikes. Naturally, there were a few small burnouts and lots of honking.
The parade ended at The Wheelie Bar & Grille for an open mic session, where anyone could get on stage and tell stories or show their appreciation for Jed and his contribution to racing at BIR. Many people pointed out that the temperature at that time was 44 degrees, which was Jed’s racing number.
Representatives from the CRA took the stage first and announced that the organization had officially retired No. 44 in Jed’s honor. They presented Kristi Copham with a plaque stating as much and emphasized that the Cophams always asked the CRA what the track could do to create a better racing experience for the Superbike racers.
The International Watercross Association (IWA) followed suit by retiring No. 44 as well. Jed raced his snowmobile whenever IWA was at BIR for its Wet & Wild Weekends.
Some of Jed’s family members, including his sister Kristen and two cousins, entertained the crowd with some stories of Jed, and racing Chaplain Russ Elzy shared some thoughts. Several others, including Canadian Dave, honored Jed with their stories as well.
Uncle Chunk took over the stage and rocked away the night, interrupted only by a massive fireworks display that shook windows from Brainerd to Pequot Lakes. Just the way Jed would’ve liked it.
Click here to visit the Galleries page to watch the videos from the evening.