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Lee Family Turns Tearful Tragedy into a Joyous Journey with Father’s Fox Body

Posted By: Ainsley Jacobs
It was an incredibly emotional evening on Thursday, March 9, 2023, as 17-year-old Evan Lee made his very first run down a dragstrip. His mother, Karen, and a huge group of supporters were all on the property at Carolina Dragway in Aiken, South Carolina, to watch the momentous occasion, but it was certainly a bittersweet one as the 1990 Ford Mustang that Evan was driving had previously belonged to his father, Raymond, who was tragically killed in 2011.

Raymond and Karen had three beautiful children – Evan and his two sisters, Madison and Megan – and the always-smiling man held a successful career as a supervisor at the Reed Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. Sadly, Raymond’s life was cut short when Thomas Bradford Jr. needlessly gunned down the then 38-year-old during a work-related incident; Bradford was found guilty of felony murder and sentenced to life in prison.
“My husband got this car new from the factory in 1990 as a gift from his mother for his high school graduation,” shared Karen. “He put a new engine in it six months before he was murdered. His goal was to take it to a dragstrip and get a time just to see what it could do.”
Sadly, Raymond never got the chance to test out what the 302 cubic inch powerplant was capable of, but Karen saved the car for her son who was 5 years old at the time of his father’s passing. As Evan got into his teenage years, his interest in the Mustang picked up and the family slowly began working to restore the automatic transmission-equipped Fox body.

“I’ve been tinkering with it since I was 14,” shared Evan, who has been daily driving the Mustang since he turned 16. Over the years, Evan also updated a few odds and ends including the ignition switch and some other components while the engine had been lightly upgraded with an aftermarket intake, cam, and headers. “My dad and I used to go around and do burnouts in the neighborhood with it, and I wanted it to be my first car since it’s so special.”
Having sat in the family’s backyard for more than a decade, the Mustang’s exterior had gotten a little rough. Fortunately, Evan’s cousin, Mark Peel, owns The Performance Center in Grovetown, Georgia, and helped out by laying a fresh spray of beautiful black paint.
Evan also had the Mustang’s electrical system rewired, installed new brakes, and replaced many of the worn-out original components. “We have been working on it little by little, and now my son can see what she can do!” proclaimed Karen, who spearheaded the decision to get Evan out to the track in the first place.

Racing in Raymond’s honor with a crowd of family and friends there to witness the poignant event and with “how to race” instruction assistance from Ric Morris, Evan clocked a quickest quarter-mile run of 14.33-seconds at 90 mph. “This, as far as my mother knows, is my first time drag racing,” joked the good-natured teen, whose mother wasn’t upset by the comment at all and happily laughed along with it.
A junior at Evans High School who has made his mother extremely proud over the years, Evan isn’t quite sure yet what he wants to do after he graduates – but it will probably have something to do with cars. “Raymond took impeccable care of the car for as long as he had it, and it was his daily driver… his baby. It means a lot to see Evan in the car now, knowing how much it meant to his dad,” Karen added.
After having gone through such an unspeakably horrible trauma, the Lee family got a little bit of closure as Evan capably piloted his father’s Fox body down the dragstrip in memory of the beloved man and acquired the timeslip that Raymond had always wanted.

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