Former professional racecar driver John Wesley Townley, a lifelong resident of Oconee County Georgia, passed away on Oct. 2nd, 2021 in Athens, GA.
The 31-year-old Townley was named after John Wesley, an English clergyman and evangelist who is considered to be the founder of Methodism.
Townley was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Cynthia J. Anderson of Statesboro Ga. He is survived by his parents, Tony and Elizabeth Townley of Bogart, Ga.; two brothers, Dillard and Will Townley of Athens, and a sister, Grace Townley of Bogart. He is also survived by his paternal grandparents, Harold and Trena Townley of Bogart, and maternal grandfather, Billy Anderson of Athens.
Longtime friend Jeanette Watson has become an adopted member of the Townley family. The Watkinsville resident is far more than a housekeeper. For more than two decades she has been and continues to be a positive influence on all the Townley kids. Ms. Watson was considered a second mom to John Wes.
Townley graduated from North Oconee High School in 2008 and later attended the University of North Georgia. Inspired by his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, Townley embarked in 1999 on what would turn out to be an 18-year career in motorsports that saw him race go-karts on tiny bullrings throughout Georgia and the Carolinas to stock cars on world-famous courses such as Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Townley created life-long friendships along the way and earned respect from his peers throughout the racing community. He was frequently referred to as “JWT” by TV and radio broadcasters. Two of his greatest accomplishments came in 2013 and 2016 when he captured popular wins in the ARCA Series at the 2.5-mile superspeedway in Daytona. JWT scored his most memorable victory in 2015 when he soared into the lead during the closing laps and won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Truck Series. “John Wes was in a position that he could have done anything in life. But it was obvious his passion was racing,” said former NASCAR driver and current NASCAR on FOX analyst Phil Parsons. “I was so excited when he got that Truck Series win at Vegas and so happy for his family because I know how hard it is to win in this sport.” An injury shortened Townley’s racing career following the 2016 season.
Townley was a self-taught piano, banjo and guitar player. His aunt, Mary J. Lewis of Statesboro, nurtured his love for the piano at an early age. One night during a race weekend at Dover, DE in 2014, Townley spontaneously began playing a baby grand piano in the lobby of the hotel in front of Dover International Speedway. Within minutes, he had attracted a large group of onlookers who gave him a thunderous applause as he concluded.
Townley was a lover of pets and adopted countless cats and dogs throughout his life. He fostered several animals from the Oconee County Animal Shelter.
His true love in life was his family and friends. He rarely missed a family vacation to the beach, lake or ski slopes. He was a phenomenal snow boarder. These trips allowed him to develop a special bond with his brothers and sister. They absolutely adored him. He also enjoyed spending time with his grandparents, aunts and cousins.
He confided to those closest to him that his biggest supporters in life were his parents and grandparents and that he would forever be grateful.
The family has elected to hold a private service at a later time.
Friends wishing to honor John Wes Townley can do so by adopting a pet from the Oconee County Animal Shelter or making a donation to the shelter by mailing a check or money order to 1171 Branch Road, Bishop, Ga. 30621 or calling 706-769-3956. Lord and Stephens Funeral Home, West, Watkinsville, is in charge of arrangements. www.lordandstephens.com