Post Number: 1218
Posted on Saturday, April 01, 2006 - 4:07 pm: || |
(Betty Drennen photo)permission given for story.
Remembering Butch Drennen
By Dan Hall
“Butch was not the best driver but he was the most entertaining one,” said Betty Drennen (Butch’s wife). She went on to say, “He loved all forms of racing.” Butch started racing motorcycles as a teenager. In the winter, he raced snowmobiles. In the mid eighties, Butch purchased a TQ Midget. He raced it at Limerock Speedway and had success. Several years later, Butch decided to take a break from racing. His daughter, Tina renewed his interest. Betty said, “Tina became very active at Genesee Speedway. She was Miss Genesee Speedway and we were there to support her.” This led to Butch purchasing a Street Stock and competing again. He eventually moved up to Pro Stock class. In the mid nineties, Butch purchased an IMCA car. He started competing at Perry Speedway and Freedom Speedway. Butch built his son, Andrew, an IMCA car. The father and son formed a strong bond from the racing. After another short break from racing, Butch ventured into asphalt racing. He purchased a Sportsman modified in 2001 and raced it at Wyoming County Speedway. The first year (2002), he finished the year fourth in points. In 2003, there was a bunch of racing misfortunes. Betty recalls several of them, “It was Butch’s fiftieth birthday and we planned a surprise. He was to be black flagged and then we were going to hold up a sign from the stands saying “Happy Birthday”. The race got started and Butch took the lead. Next thing, the car came crashing into the front stretch wall. His steering wheel had come off. What a way to celebrate your birthday.” Butch shook it off and put it back together. He was at the track racing the next weekend. Another incident Betty remembers, “Butch overcame a lot of accidents and mishaps. One weekend, he was hit by a car in the pits followed by being misidentified for another driver which led to an altercation.” Butch’s perseverance was a testament for his love of the sport
One thing for sure, Butch loved to race at Wyoming County International Speedway. He enjoyed the comradely of his fellow competitors. Butch often entertained down in the pits. The primary characteristic of Butch’s was helping others. He would do anything to lend a hand to a fellow competitor. This trade mark was evident in his personal life. One of many examples was his association with the Clarendon soap box derby. He routinely was a sponsor for the event. This led him into becoming a tech for the event. Eventually, he became the chairperson and actively got sponsors for a majority of the kids. His business of twenty four years would close the weekend of the derby. C.A. Drennen Service was transformed into a tech area for the derby competitors. Butch had a big heart and loved kids. He had the same compassion for anyone in need. An act of kindness was the last thing Butch did on this earth. His willingness to give and help was evident at the funeral. An estimated eight hundred people stood in line for hours to pay tribute to him. Many people shared the goodness of Butch’s heart that night. Betty remembered, “That night was bitter cold, around thirty degrees below zero. I always felt blessed to be married to a person who touched so many lives.”
Today, we celebrate the life of Clarence A. “Butch” Drennen. The second annual “Butch Drennen” Memorial Race is a tribute to a man who loved racing. His love of racing was only exceeded by love for his family. Andrew and Tina learned many things from their dad. He taught them to take risks and pursue their dreams. They did and are now a part of NASCAR. Tina is a score keeper for Dave Blaney and the Richard Childress Team. She also works for Tony Stewart’s Busch team. Andrew went on to be shop foreman for Rousch Racing. He has two NASCAR championship rings (Matt Kenseth and Kurt Bush). Betty said, “He was so proud of both of them. He always found a way to bring up the fact that his son and daughter both worked for NASCAR.” His wife, Betty has kept Butch’s dream alive. She organized this event so others would be helped. This race benefits the American Diabetes Association. Butch’s mission continues through your support of this charity. Betty remembered, “The last few years of his life were the most profound. He became more comfortable with himself and life.” His friendship with neighbor, Reverend McKinney led him in a new direction. Butch’s faith brought a new meaning to his life. Betty went on to say, “He lived his life to the fullest. Everything he did was with love and laughter. We thank his fellow racers for the laps, the laughs, and even the crashes. Butch finished the biggest race of all and won the greatest prize……….eternal life with Christ.”