Latham :: My Friend in the Fight of His Life

“It can’t happen to me” or “I hope it doesn’t happen to me” … How many times have we thought that? How many times have we seen things happen to people but never changed our lives because we didn’t think “that” would happen to us or someone we’re close to?

I’ve done it. We are all guilty of it in some shape or form. I’ve watched things happen but it was never that close to me. Rodney Cook’s death was hard on me as he was my good friend and I think about him all the time. But now, it’s obvious to me that it can happen to anyone as now it’s my best friend fighting the fight of his life.

Joseph “Bobo” Brown … I didn’t know the guy, I just knew he raced. He was a Bowman Gray regular and fit the mold; cocky, proud and always in some sort of “issues” at the races. He and his brother JonBoy were cut from the same mold and neither took much crap from anyone else.

I met him one night at a get together at a bar for the now defunct “It’s All A Mile” messageboard that was about Bowman Gray. At some point in the night he leaned over and said “I’m fixing to start something with those dudes (some guys acting cocky and loud) and I thought. “What is this skinny little dude gonna do?” Five minutes later I’m fighting with 37 people in the parking lot, it was a damn near riot. It all started from there…

A few weeks later we actually hung out together for the first time, just us and to say it didn’t turn out well is an understatement. I can’t tell the real story but the night ended with a gun, lots of cussing and threats and both of us not liking each other. Little did we know that was the beginning of many nights and days of fun.

I guess we thought that the other was crazy, so it worked out. Many nights of bonfires, four wheelers, parties, concerts, races and just good times followed. Every week racing at Bowman Gray, racing was what was the common bond with all of us. But we were always together, we had our “gang” and we were a tight circle. I gained new family members from Bo, I consider everyone in his family my family now.

Years went by but nothing changed. I got tied down for a few years but we still saw each other every weekend at least. Then my life changed drastically and as crazy as it sounds, Bo was the one who showed me that people loved me. He helped me get through some hard times, that is just the kind of person he is. Some just see the crazy and wide open side of him but I know the other side as well and he has a heart of gold.

Just a few months ago we were at Martinsville for the Late Model race when we got the great idea to go race go-carts. Bo left his mark on me forever as I still have a knot on my leg as he tried to kill me. It was some good times though, the stuff that movies are made of. Had a lot of drivers there that night including Langley champion Matt Waltz and he does not drive a go cart like he does a race car, I can tell you that for sure.

Then a few months ago was the Uber incident. Some guy with one arm picked six of us up and to this day we aren’t sure if he was a real Uber driver. The guy dropped us off or so we thought. In reality he went inside, got drunk and tried to take us home. Lost his keys and unknowing to us called his girlfriend. She came and raised hell and took him with her, with us sitting 40 minutes from home in some dudes car with no keys and no driver.

Bo get’s the bright idea to start a fire in the woods to keep warm as we figured out what to do. The Randolph County sheriffs deputies seemed to frown on this as I look over and they have fire extinguishers putting out the fire. How we got out of that is a miracle but I do know it cost us $89 in a cab to get home. Just another one of those times I’ll never forget.

Not all times are crazy, most of the time we sit around and watch racing videos on Youtube and just chill but it’s fun to tell the stories. However it all changed just a couple months ago. Everything was fine and I had just seen Bo the week before. Then he called me as I was walking into the Georgia Tech vs Georgia game in Atlanta in November.

He told me he had cancer, that there was a tumor behind his heart and they were going to start chemo immediately when the tests came back. It didn’t register in my head, it was a bombshell but I just thought he was just overreacting to something and in reality I just didn’t want it to be true. It couldn’t be, it’s Bo.

In the weeks since I’ve accepted that it is true. He has Lymphoma but it is treatable and he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to beat it. I’ve also accepted the fact that my friend is going to be ok, I see no reason to think otherwise. I know the fight and willpower within him and he will beat this and be racing and doing what he wants to do in no time flat.

As I’ve sat in the hospital with him as he does his chemo treatments I have noticed one thing more than anything else … his courage and desire to be a better person and to make people around him better. He has no fear, he rides a bike for six miles while having the chemo pumping in him. It’s truly an inspiration to me. I don’t know if I could be that strong. But I know no matter what, we all have to be that strong for him. We are a tight gang that shows no weakness at all, the funny thing is that he is stronger than all of us and he is the one going through a hard fight like we’ll never know.

The one thing that Bo loves the most is his racing family and on January 14th at Johnny N Junes Ultra Saloon in Winston Salem, NC there is a big benefit for him starting at 1:00pm. Four bands, food, silent auction, raffles and race cars. While we are trying to raise money as the bills are astronomical, he just wants to see his fellow racers and some race cars. I challenge all my racing friends to bring whatever cars they have ready to show or just themselves as it would mean the world to my friend.

“Brownstyle” is going to be around for a long time to come, we love ya bud.


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Corey Latham

Corey Latham

Corey Latham is Race22.com’s senior photographer. He has been with Race22.com since the beginning and is one of most recognizable people in Late Model Stock Car racing. Along with doing photos, Latham also contributes commentary pieces and breaking news to Race22.com.