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Excel Employees Race in Memory of Brother

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When John Rogers returned home from Vietnam in 1968, he developed a passion for drag racing. He raced at dragstrips in Evansville, IL, Assumption, IL and Bowling Green, KY; just to name a few. Although he was never a solid competitor, he loved the sport, and that passion inevitably passed down to all three of his sons – Patrick (Pat), William (Will) and Jonathan (Jon). He introduced each of his sons to racing when they were around the age of sixteen. According to Jon (Maintenance Technician), their dad sold his race car in 1985 or 1986, and five years later, Pat began racing.

In 1994 Pat purchased his first race car (1968 orange Chevy Nova), and became a regular at the Mason County Raceway, in Havana, IL. In 1998 the car was sold, but repurchased by the Roger’s Family in 2000. According to Will (Final Inspection Technician), “This car was special, not only because it was Pat’s first race car, but because it was the car all three of us drove when we won our first race.” Pat passed away in February 2015, after battling complications from liver failure for almost two years. One year before passing, Pat bought a 1968 Chevy Camaro that he planned to convert into a dragster. In his will he requested that Will and Jon work on the car together and race it and the two have honored their late brother’s wishes.

Will, Jon, and their dad, worked on Pat’s Camaro for at least six months. Everything was already in place, except the transmission, prior to Pat’s passing. In August 2015, Will took the Camaro to Havana to “stretch its legs,” and prove things out. In October 2015, the vehicle was lettered (detailed), with the logos of the sponsors who sponsored Pat during his race career. In spring of 2016, Will officially christened the Camaro in Cordova, IL, near the Quad Cities. Will states, “That experience was one big mix of emotions. The physical rush of driving the car from 0-150 mph in less than 9 seconds, plus the memory of Pat…it was awesome.” Jon won the first two times he raced. His second win allowed a good friend of their late brother to also race Pat’s car in another class. He also won that evening. According to Jon, all the stars were in alignment that night. He commented, “Pat always said that you have to be good just one round, and have to have luck on your side. After that win, I tried to let the emotions sink in, but nothing happened until the next morning. I could feel him there with me…it was perfect.”

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It is evident that there is a great sense of pride in the Rogers Family. Not only are Will and Jon honoring their late brother’s memory by racing his dragster, but they are also continuing the family tradition, which was set in stone by their dad more than 40 years ago. Their plan is to travel throughout the United States with Pat’s car and race as often as possible. In fact, the family now has three cars – (2) 1968 Chevy Camaros and (1) 1967 Pontiac Firebird. Will wishes to express thanks to his parents, as well as his fiancée, Sarah. Without their support and understanding, it would not be possible for him and Jon to do this.

 

 

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