Dean Goforth misses a gentleman he describes as “the best cutting up buddy” a man could have.
Goforth’s friend is the late Bert Jackson, who was killed while racing at last year’s ADRL Dragstock event. The 68-year old Goforth understands life goes on but a year later, he can only shake his head and smile in remembering the good times.
“We cut up something awful,” Goforth said, as he reminisced. “It was an all the time kind of deal. It was every race, too. I really miss that.”
Jackson was killed on September 10, 2011 when he hit the guard wall hard at Rockingham Dragway. Obviously incapacitated, the ran off the end of the track with the throttle hung open. Jackson was transported to First Health Richmond Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead by a medical examiner.
Goforth sometimes finds it difficult to fathom how his partner in comedic mayhem isn’t around.
“There was the smile,” Goforth continued, “He never lost that. You always knew by the look on his face that he was glad to see you. If he wasn’t glad to see you, he was clearly a good faker, but I doubt it. He just liked people … everybody.”
Has he found another good cutting-up partner to fill the void.
“Oh gosh no,” Goforth answered quickly. “You can never replace a Bert Jackson. Guys like Bert are rare. No sense looking for a replacement, they aren't out there. A lot of us are run of the mill people, but not him. He was above the standard. He makes me laugh thinking about him now.”
If anyone knows the importance of a good laugh, it’s Goforth. Last November, he nearly died of a staph infection whichdeveloped after he got a splinter in his finger. He endured many painful days and there were moments he forced himself to laugh. It was the only medicine he knew to fight his illness.
“I didn’t laugh a lot, but I knew I needed to … if only by squeezing one out,” Goforth admitted.
Thinking back to his moments of scuttle-butting with Jackson made him laugh then and today, he’ll still break out in a chuckle when a memory crosses his mind.
Goforth can barely describe the day when the baby picture on the window of the Pro Stocker Jackson drove became the focal point of a “moment”. The baby picture was of team owner Enoch Love.
“I found this baby picture and it wasn’t something you’d find in a newspaper,” Goforth said with a smile. “It went something like this …”
Goforth described how he did his best to mask the humor and look angry as he playfully confronted Jackson.
“Boy … I’m mad and I felt like I should come to you and tell you about it,” Goforth said, successfully masking the joke.
“I told him, ‘it’s not right and I am being mistreated here. I’m going to tell you about.”
Goforth said Jackson was taken aback and falling for the joke … hook, line and sinker.
“That picture on the side of your car, I wanted to put mine on the side of my car and the ADRL wouldn’t let me. I showed him the picture.”
Then Goforth started laughing and uttered, “I think it’s discrimination.”
Goforth said the look on Jackson’s face was priceless.
“I had gotten him good, and he knew it,” Goforth admitted.
Then Goforth sighed and classified the memory of one of the good days which had passed. He says the realization which comes to pass when the racing community loses a friend makes the racers think about their own mortality.
“I think it makes us all realize it could happen to us,” said Goforth. “It makes you realize just how special those moments are. You realize what you mean to one another. Bert sure did mean a lot to me.”
And in the pits, Jackson meant a lot to others as well.
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