It's been a tough week for local dirt-track racing families.
Earlier this week, late-model racer Carl Billet died.
Now, the matriarch of one of York's great racing families has also died.
After a gallant battle with cancer for the past several years, Charlotte Eckert passed away Tuesday.
Eckert was the wife of former late-model racer Junior Eckert, and the mother of a whole host of racers. More recently, a grandson could be added to that list of winning racers.
Charlotte was with the family all the way in their racing careers. At first it was with her husband, and after Junior had raced for a few years, his father Irvin Eckert Sr. actually started racing as well.
The family racing nearly came to an end in 1971 when Junior Eckert lost a foot in a racing accident at Williams Grove Speedway. Charlotte helped nurse Junior back to health, and eventually, later that same decade, Junior returned to racing in the modified stock class, where he won numerous races and several championships.
As Junior got back into racing, so did his children. Stepson Oz raced for a short period, claiming a win in the modified stock class. Then Charlotte's daughters Kitty, Candy and Lori, also began racing. They all were winners, and Candy even won a point title at Selinsgrove.
Charlotte's son Rick Eckert soon started racing as well, and became one of this area's top late-model racers, before moving his show on the road. All along, Charlotte was a strong supporter of her family's racing endeavors.
When Rick began winning races and championships on the road, it wasn't unusual for Junior and Charlotte to travel to races far and wide to support his racing. A crowning moment came at the end of the 2011 racing season, when she watched her son win the World of Outlaws late-model point championship.
At the same time, there was a fourth generation of Charlotte's racing family making a name for himself. Cody Darrah is Kitty's son. Cody began a promising career in the micro sprints, before moving on to sprint-car competition. After several very productive seasons locally, Darrah accepted a ride with Kasey Kahne's World of Outlaws sprint-car team. Again, Charlotte was able to watch her grandson race far and wide.
Charlotte Eckert was a familiar figure at racing events far and wide. She was a part of everything her family did.
There was never a time that Charlotte didn't take part in the annual summer picnics and the December Christmas parties hosted by the York County Racing Club. Her covered dishes were always very popular items on the tables at these functions. She and her family were also strong supporters of the Auto Racing Club of Hagerstown, the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing and the Bowling Green Speedway Historical Society.
Always ready with a smile and a laugh, Charlotte Eckert is someone who will be greatly missed around the local racing scene.
She was 80 years old.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dis patch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdis patch.com.