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Rhapsody in Pink
Jeff Teuton has a need for speed. But he also has a deep understanding for how precious life can be.
It was 40 years ago that Teuton, the owner of Southland Dodge in Houma, Louisiana, and an NHRA afficionado, was told by his wife, Carolyn, that she would be facing a battle far more challenging than anything he’d ever endured on the race strip.
“The breast cancer diagnosis was devastating,” recalls Teuton. “As devastated as I was, I can’t imagine what Carolyn went through.”
The diagnosis for his wife and mother of his three children (ages 5, 7 and 9 at the time) was grim. But, this strong woman was not about to let breast cancer define her or devastate the young family she and her husband were building. Although treatment was light years behind what’s available today, the Teuton’s aggressively attacked the cancer head-on.
“She’s been through it all,” said Teuton. “Back then, it was horrible. I couldn’t have done it.”
Following several treatments and surgeries, Carolyn’s cancer finally went into remission. After decades of precautionary follow-up visits, the Teutons recently received the greatest news possible: No more treatments. No more surgery. No more visits with the specialists. Her oncologist gave her a prescription to steer clear, saying, “unless you think something is wrong, don’t come see us. “
So, how do you celebrate a momentous occasion like finding out that your wife has defeated breast cancer once and for all? Well, if you’re NHRA royalty and you already have a warehouse full of Wally trophies, a prestigious U.S. Nationals win in Stock Eliminator (2011) and, most recently, a triumph at the 2015 NHRA Gatornationals — with driver Kevin Helms steering one of your Mopar® Dodge Challenger Drag Paks to the winner’s circle — you paint something. Pink.
To honor his wife’s triumphant milestone, Teuton and his team painted his winning Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak the only color appropriate for such an amazing achievement. The furious fuscia-colored Drag Pak mirrors the 2009 Dodge Challenger that Carolyn drives daily — it is a fitting tribute that makes a true statement whenever it appears at a race.
“From the first time we had it at a race, I’ve received a lot of positive comments,” said Teuton. “I knew it would get a good reaction, but I didn’t think it would get this much attention.” The race car was taken apart for painting and then reassembled to assure the highest quality. Teuton approached the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Louisiana — one of the facilities where his wife received care — about being involved in the tribute car.
“The hospital loved the idea,” said Teuton. “I told them to come up with a slogan for the door and they did. “Drive Fast. Fight Hard.” Teuton also contacted NHRA Pro Stock racer, Jeg Coughlin Jr. to include JEGS Foundation for Cancer Research ribbon decals on the pink Pak. It was a nice touch. But there were other “nice touches” to be added as well.
“We have a 392 HEMI® engine, that we built right before Indy, that we’re going to drop in,” said Teuton.
In its first race this year, the “Drive Fast. Fight Hard.” 2009 Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak qualified No. 1. A few months later, it made its national event debut at the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
For Teuton, any victory is great, but the true purpose of the car was to inspire and show support for those battling breast cancer. In fact, Teuton’s pink Drag Pak was scheduled to make an appearance late in September at a Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center event where survivors don pink themselves as a sign of unity and support. It will also be appearing at tracks across the country, competing with the best and raising awareness with every victory.
For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer besides lung cancer.
About 85% of breast cancer occurs in women who have no family history of breast cancer.