LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–Countless laps have been turned by cars at the Rockford Speedway over the decades. Few of them though were like the ones turned Thursday.

These laps were in honor of Jody Deery. Deery passed away last week at the age of 97. She and her family have owned and operated the Rockford Speedway since 1966.

Following a funeral Mass Thursday morning at St. James Catholic Church, a hearse transporting Deery’s casket drove several laps around the track.  Family and friends watched from the stands. Many of them wore checkered clothing. All of them waved checkered flags. 

The hearse took a green flag lap, a white flag lap, and a checkered flag lap. Fireworks also explosed overhead. This is exactly how Jody Deery wanted it according to one of her sons and former Rockford Speedway General Manager Tom Deery.

“She was always the showperson and always worried about how the show was going off, so I know she was happy that the people that are here to pay their respects for her understood the importance of it, and it was great to see that happen and the checkered flags and everybody waving the flags. It was a great, great sendoff, and I know she’d be happy.

The stories of all the hours Jody Deery worked at the Rockford Speedway are legendary. More times than not, she worked late into the night in her office. Why was this place so special, so important to her?

“I think it was her vehicle to be able to reach out and work for people, and provide for people,” said Tom Deery.” She always thought that her job was to provide entertainment and provide jobs for people, provide a place for people to race. That’s what drove her is not so much what she got out of it, but what she was able to provide for the other people.”