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Memorial race planned for Jeff Carpenter

Jeff Carpenter was no longer upset last Monday with how his racing season began two nights prior in Jamestown. The Valley City driver was focused forward, working to fix his No. 37 Midwest modified after a bumpy Saturday night at Jamestown Speedw...

Jeff Carpenter (37) races three-wide at Jamestown Speedway with Lucas Rodin (19) and Nate Reinke (71) on Aug. 11, 2018. Carpenter finished fifth that evening in the Midwest modifieds feature race. Michael Savaloja / The Sun
Jeff Carpenter (37) races three-wide at Jamestown Speedway with Lucas Rodin (19) and Nate Reinke (71) on Aug. 11, 2018. Carpenter finished fifth that evening in the Midwest modifieds feature race. Michael Savaloja / The Sun

Jeff Carpenter was no longer upset last Monday with how his racing season began two nights prior in Jamestown.

The Valley City driver was focused forward, working to fix his No. 37 Midwest modified after a bumpy Saturday night at Jamestown Speedway led to a 24th-place DNF. Carpenter, 61, passed away unexpectedly while working on his car, just hours after talking to close racing friend and Valley City native Randy Klein over the phone.

"It was absolutely complete shock," said Klein. "He's OK with wrecking the car, and putting it back together and getting ready to go to Wishek (Tri-County Speedway) on Thursday. Here we are Thursday night (May 16), bringing it to his prayer service instead of to race."

Jamestown Speedway has planned to help honor Carpenter with a 37-lap Midwest modified feature race this Saturday, with Klein at the controls of Carpenter's No. 37. Jamestown Speedway owner Tim Baldwin said the special event will be moved to the track's next event if weather were to force a cancellation.

"It's just one of those things that I think takes a little time to soak in that it really happened," Baldwin said. "He was always there. He wasn't always a front runner, but he was always a contender."

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Carpenter, known as "Carp" to those who knew him well, broke through with a feature win Sept. 4, 2017, at Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon. He bested a 22-car field that included some of the area's best: Marion's Lucas Rodin, Lisbon's Nate Reinke, Horace's Royce Jawaski, Edgeley's Eric Edwards and LaMoure's Brennon Weight.

The field also included Klein.

"He was one of a kind. Happy-go-lucky," Klein said. "He was a guy that had a smile on his face 90 percent of the time, even with a bad night. I was just lucky enough to know him."

Klein, with the help of others in the local racing community, completed work on Carpenter's car this week after being asked by family members. A celebration of life service for Carpenter begins this morning at 11 a.m. at Dacotah Pavilion in Valley City.

"Everybody knew that racing was huge to Jeff. He loved racing and working on his car, so (family) wanted it at the funeral," Klein said. "It's going to be tough racing it, just knowing that he's gone."

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN SPEEDWAY
Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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