Kay and Coley Lovejoy celebrated part of their honeymoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway, then Atlanta International Raceway, in March of 1968. Forty-eight years later, give or take a month, they were back celebrating their anniversary after winning Atlanta Motor Speedway’s weekend race package for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
With their marriage less than 48 hours old, they were invited by Coley’s brother-in-law to Sunday’s race. Despite the offer coming at 4AM and despite the fact that they were at Stone Mountain on their honeymoon they agreed. “Our car was still decorated from the wedding,” said Coley. “We had to stop and wash it on our way to the track.”
They had tickets for the infield and by 8AM they were settled in the infield, which in 1968 resembled a pasture. “Have you seen pictures of Woodstock?” Kay asked. “If so, you know what the infield looked like then.” Kay had never been to a race before so the whole experience was new. “I never thought I could have that much fun at a NASCAR race,” she said. After that first race they came back every March to celebrate their anniversary with friends and family eventually bringing their children and their families. “It is totally different now,” remarks Coley. “None of the other buildings or the condos were here during that race.”
The up-for-anything zest for life that took them to that first race as newlyweds is a characteristic still clearly evident in their life. “We travel a lot,” said Coley. “We want to live and see and do, not just sit around.” And they have. Besides traveling extensively, the couple has diverse hobbies. Coley even did a little racing of his own years ago on dirt tracks where he raced against racing legends like Bill Elliott, round tracks and figure eight tracks. Kay was able to be a part of the racing action in her own way. She had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem at the Speedway four times with her female barbershop chorus group Song of Atlanta. She still sings in a female barbershop group, Georgia Sensation Chorus.
Coley, content to let his wife talk for most of the interview, became animated and took over the conversation when asked how they met. He owned a demolition business and after a long day of burning houses he came to the bank to cash his check. “When I walked in there was this new pretty teller,” said Coley. “I got in her line although there were open windows. The other tellers kept calling ‘Mr. Coley we’re open’ and I said ‘I am fine right here.’” When his turn came, he ask her if she was new. Her reply was curt and perhaps understandably so. “He was so dirty,” said Kay. “He was covered in soot and his clothes and face were black.” Her less than encouraging response did nothing to lessen Coley’s interest, but the engagement ring he saw on her hand did give him pause. He finished his transaction and left the bank. Not one to give up easily, Coley returned the next day and deposited $5 only to return the following day to cash a $5 check. “We traded that same $5 bill for a month,” Coley said. “Finally I said ‘Enough of this, if you ever decide to get rid of that engagement ring let me know.’”
Six weeks later, Coley and one of his employees were in the bank drive-thru cashing a check. Kay happened to be working the drive-thru window that day. As she processed the check Coley noted that she was counting the money very strangely and seemed to be waving her hands around. “I was trying to make him notice that I was no longer wearing an engagement ring,” said Kay with a smile. Coley did notice and when his cash came he counted it and noticed he actually had $1,100 instead of $1,000. Coley said, “I think you made a mistake.” To which Kay said “I don’t make mistakes.” She had in fact given him too much and when she realized it she ask for the extra $100 back. “I said no, I will only give this back if you agree to have dinner with me,” said Coley.
That first dinner led to Coley proposing on February 26, 1968 and they were married March 29, 1968. “We didn’t waste any time,” Coley said. “I wasn’t giving her any chance to change her mind.”
It is clear that Coley need not have worried. The couple is clearly still very much in love and exudes that happy confidence and security unique to those who have been happily married a long time. “I always tell him as long as I’m holding his hand I could walk through the gates of hell and be okay.” Kay says. They credit their long and happy marriage to good communication, mutual respect and lots of love that they demonstrate often and openly.
Kay and Coley have two children born 10 years apart. “It kept us young,” said Kay. They have 2 grown granddaughters, one who is a Marine, 3 young grandchildren and one great grandchild. It sounds like they will have enough youth in their family to keep them young for a long time!
The Atlanta Motor Speedway Weekend Package that they won included:
4 Weekend Pit Passes
4 Tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday Races
Tanger Outlets Gift Card for $100.00
4 tour passes to JailHouse Brewing Company
Dinner for 4 from Holiday Inn & Suites in Stockbridge, GA
2 Night Stay at the La Quinta Inn & Suites – Locust Grove