Monday, March 30, 2015

Rudy Branham, Jr. 10/27/1954 - 3/28/2015

Racing buddy, Michael Butler adds a memorial decal to his car.

John Rudy Branham, Jr.
10/27/1954 - 3/28/2015

Rudy Branham and his #28 McDonald's truck.

 Darlington McDonald's saying "We will miss you Rudy". McDonald's owner
Bob Kerzner was a  huge supporter of Rudy Branham and his racing. What
better way to give respect to Rudy  than to show support for a business that
helped him do what he loved.

John Rudy Branham, Jr., 60, of Darlington died on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at his home.

Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 3 PM in the Chapel of Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Grove Hill Cemetery.

The family received friends from 5 until 7 PM on Monday, March 30, 2015 at the funeral home and other times at the home, 753 Branham's Airport Road.

Mr. Branham was born in Darlington County. He was the son of John Rudy Branham and the late Marian Sansbury "Belle" Branham.

Rudy spent his life in Darlington and was involved in many areas of the community. He was the owner of Branham's Garage, a business started by his father and was associated all his life with Branham's Airport.

Outside of his family, Rudy's favorite pastime was racing cars. He started racing in 1971 in the Hobby Class at Sumter Speedway. His first win was in 1973 at Conway Speedway. His career highlights include 1976 Rookie Class Champion at Myrtle Beach Speedway, 1979 Darlington Champion, 1982 and 1983 Track Champion at Carolina Speedway and Track Champion at Florence Motor Speedway for three consecutive years. The thrill of racing for Rudy was the competition. His most exciting racing moments in the infamous 28 car have been many, but none more than taking one final checkered flag at a local racetrack after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Rudy's illness brought his driving career to a halt, but it did not stop his involvement in the sport he loved. Rudy became the co-host of "That's Racing" on Monday nights on radio 92.9 and continued this for the remainder of his life. "Little Rudy" as he was affectionately known by his family and close friends, was a racer. Pure and simple. He was a fierce competitor in all he did. In life, as on the track, Rudy did everything possible to win.

Rudy fought cancer just like he fought to win the pole. In the end, he lost the battle. But he won the race. He finished the course and he kept the faith.

Surviving include father, John Rudy "Big Rudy" Branham, Sr.; daughter, Angel Branham (Kevin) Odom of Darlington; grandchildren, Corbin, Landon, and Branson all of Darlington; aunt, Wanda Thomas and husband, Tim of Darlington; uncles, James Branham and wife, Renee and Ray Branham all of Darlington; cousins, Russell Branham, Candi Elms and husband, Gary, Eddie McCoy, Jr. and wife, Dawn, Howard Cross and wife, Sherry, and Cathy Kirby and husband, C.C.; adoptive daughter, Jennifer Smith of Darlington; and many other close family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carolyn Branham; mother, Marian Sansbury "Belle" Branham, and grandparents, Willie D. and Minnie "MaMa" Branham.

Kistler-Hardee Funeral Home is honored to serve the Branham family. Sign the online guest book at

Rudy's passing brought the attention of the Nascar racing community as well as the local circle track folks.

Rudy Branham Sr.

Rudy did not have any insurance so all further donations will help the family with funeral expenses. Please continue to keep the Branham family and friends in your thoughts and prayers!

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