Mary Thrasher, Race Fan

Athens Banner Herald – Friday, August 30, 2013 (excerpt)

When professional stock car driver Jeff Gordon opened a news conference in Athens for questions from the audience, no one had more questions than Mary Thrasher.

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She even gave the NASCAR superstar a big hug during the event in which Gordon was promoting a University of Georgia student-led program that provides food for the elderly in Athens. Thrasher, who is in her eighties, has been a racecar fan for much of her life.

“Fireball Roberts. Have you ever heard of him? He was one of my favorites,” she said about the legendary racer as she stood outside the Athens Area Community Council on Aging on Hoyt Street. Thrasher is one of the mainstays at the senior center, where she is an active participant.

Thrasher’s father never owned an automobile, so he didn’t influence her love of racetracks.

“I had several boyfriends as I got a little older,  and they liked car races.  Now after I married my husband, he and I went (to races) a few times. But my husband was really a rabbit hunter.  I like bird hunting,” said Thrasher, who has traveled to racetracks in Georgia and Darlington, South Carolina.

Thrasher and her husband, Bobby, were local business owners in Athens, Georgia.

“We used to have Thrasher’s Grocery over by West End Baptist Church,” she said. “We stayed there 19 years, but my husband wasn’t able to come down there the last three years. The last time I got robbed at knife point, he insisted I close it.”

Thrasher is an avid reader of the Athens Banner-Herald.

“I don’t know who furnishes our paper down here (at the center), but you don’t know how much we appreciate the paper because we pass it around. It gives us a lot of the local news and the dead people. We don’t know when people die. They used to give it over the radio,” she said. “It helps us stay abreast with many of the things going on in Athens.”

Thrasher has seen many changes to her hometown in eight decades.

“I can just about tell you what’s been here and hasn’t been here. I remember when the buses parked in front of City Hall and you could ride for a dime to Normaltown or to East Athens,” she said. “The Banner-Herald used to be on Hancock Avenue in a little brown building where the Federal Building is. Everything has changed.”

But now in her older years, she enjoys the goings-on at the senior center.

So there we have it. Mary Thrasher loves car racing, bird hunting, newspapers, Athens and the senior center!

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