Christmas came early at the Carolyn Carrier-Craig Booze house at 1759 Grandview Drive here in Sparta. For a special reason, too.
Carrier, 60, daughter of Larry Carrier, who owned Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway until he sold it to O. Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (SMI), found out not too long ago she had breast cancer. After numerous treatments, it appeared Carrier was getting the upper hand on her cancer.
Then, on a visit to her doctor last month, Carrier found out the cancer had spread to her liver and was incurable. She was told she had two to four months to live.
That was a devastating blow for Carrier.
If the doctor’s prognosis was correct, that meant Carrier, who worked for Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., for about five years, would miss Christmas — her favorite time of the year.
Booze, who at one time drove the truck hauling the R.J. Reynolds trackside equipment for NASCAR Winston Cup races, and Carrier decided there was no way Carrier would miss Christmas.
So they organized Carolyn’s Christmas tree-trimming get together for the afternoon of Aug. 12, inviting a few friends.
Among the guests on hand were Nancy Fleming, Darlene Patterson, Barney Hall and Tim Brewer, along with Carrier’s brother, Larry, and son, David.
Motorsports also was special for Carrier and not just because her father owned one of the most successful tracks in NASCAR’s history.
Carrier loved the sport and received very little recognition for some of the things she presented to the sport.
Fleming of Weaverville, N.C., Carrier’s friend since the two were five, remembers a blue Mustang that Carrier’s parents gave her. That Mustang was equipped with a horn that sounded like a horse neighing. Carrier was told not to blow the horn in town.
“So, what did she do?” said Fleming. “She went through Bristol, Tenn., and Bristol, Va., right down State Street, blowing that horn. Everyone knew who it was, too.”
Carrier helped her dad promote Bristol Motor Speedway when she was growing up.
Later in her career, Carrier formed her own motorsports public relations firm, handling the accounts of Bobby Allison and Brett Bodine.
“Nobody had to tell her anything,” said Patterson, like Fleming, a long-time friend who now lives in Ocean Isle, S.C., with her husband, Wayne. “She knew how to run a business because Carolyn always paid close attention to details. It’s a shame she waited so late in her life to start her own public relations firm. She never got the chance to display her full skills and abilities.”
It should have been no surprise to anyone that Booze would have organized something like this Christmas tree-trimming get together for his wife. That was his true nature, if one remembers Carrier’s 50th birthday.
Booze hired a small airplane, towing a banner with the words “Happy 50th Birthday, Carolyn,” around the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway about eight times.
“She had just broken her ankle and wanted to go dancing because she loved to dance and couldn’t go,” said Booze. “She was miserable until she saw that banner.”
They got the tree, a sizeable one in the living room, near an open fireplace, trimmed with Carrier hanging her favorite ornament, which just might have been the one with the image of Richard Petty on it.
At least motorsports was in the air at Christmas time.
If it hadn’t been, it wouldn’t have represented Carolyn Carrier’s lifestyle.