Judy Lilly “Miss Mighty MOPAR” Passes at 80

Judy Lilly's Plymouth Belvedere
1942 – 2022
Judy Lilly-Gunson, drag racer “Miss Mighty MOPAR”, horse trainer and barrel racer, passed away August 9, 2022, at Platte Valley Hospital in Brighton, CO at the age of 80 after a
remarkable life.
Judy was born in St. Petersburg, FL on Feb 25th, 1942, to Virginia and Jack Gardner. When she was 12 the family moved to Denver, CO and then relocated to Tennessee. Judy stayed
behind because she had fallen in love with Lou Lilly and Colorado. She would go on to have 2 children with Lou, became a hairdresser, and found a love of drag racing from Lou’s hobby. She started driving in 1961 and would go on to become a prominent figure in the pioneering age of drag racing. She then married Dennis Maurer 10 years later and
Chrysler became her sponsor.
She was so good and quick in the driver’s seat that she won five National Hotrod Association championships, five divisional championships and was named driver of the year three times by Car Craft Magazine. Judy became known to a generation as “Miss Mighty Mopar”. She drag raced for 23 years and was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1998 and became the first woman inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. Though there were many accolades, she was a racer first and foremost.
Just before retirement from racing she found love again and married Mark Gunson and moved to a 39-acre spread outside of Brighton, CO. After retirement from racing, Judy found a different kind of thrill; she raised/trained horses and barrel raced for another 34 years, again finding success.
Judy is survived by her husband of 39 years, Mark Gunson Brighton, CO; her daughter Nancy Lilly-Brown (Milt Brown), Greeley, CO; her grandchildren, Sharnay Brown (Travis
Weger), Colo Springs, CO, Keaton Brown (Annie) Loveland, CO and Kenji Lilly; great grandson, Grayson Weger, Colo Springs; her brother Jerry Gardner (Linda), Thornton, CO; and her nieces, Whitney, Lauren, and great niece, Hayley Gardner. Judy was preceded in death by her son, Philip Lilly.
Judy’s life celebration will be held Sept 9, 2022 at 10:30a.m. at Cornerstone Community Church, 1321 9th Ave, Greeley, CO.
Reception will follow.