Car enthusiast helped found N.E. Dragway

 Published in the December 18, 2015 edition

Mahan-obit-webTOPSFIELD — James Christopher Mahan, Jimmy or Uncle Jimmy to all who knew him, passed away suddenly on Dec. 12 with his family at his side. He was 71.

Jimmy was born in Stoneham on July 6, 1944, grew up in Melrose and Malden, raised a family in Peabody and retired in Topsfield.

He is survived by Constance, his wife of 49 years; his son, Christopher J. Mahan of Lynnfield and his wife Jennifer; his daughters Carrie Mahan Anderson of Washington, D.C. and Julie R. Sulzinsky of Middleton and her husband Dan; his grandchildren Kyle, Riley, Madeleine, Jonah, Luke, Conor and James; his brother, Edward Mahan of Melrose and his wife Brenda, and their family; his sister, Eleanor Gajewski, of Henderson, Nev.; and many close cousins, extended family, and friends across the country. He was predeceased by his parents, Christopher and Helen (Daly) Mahan of Melrose and his sister, Kristen Hawley of Minneapolis.

Jimmy graduated from Melrose High School in 1962 and met Connie at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif. Together, they founded Automotive Parts and Mahan’s Hardware of Lynn in 1970, a family-run business now managed by their son, Chris. Prior to starting the business, Jimmy was an iron worker in Local 7, with his brother Edward and his father Chris.

Jimmy was a life-long car enthusiast. He built and raced his own dragster for years. He was an original founder of the New England Dragway, a former member of the Board of Directors and he remained active in its operations until his death.

Jimmy always had a wide variety of interests. He treasured family time spent at Sebago Lake, Maine. He was a coin and casino token collector, a voracious reader of history — especially the Civil War — and an inveterate traveler who logged thousands of miles during trips in his truck and his annual walkabout. A National Parks enthusiast, Jimmy visited over 400 park sites. He was a member of the Automotive Parts Golf League at Gannon Golf Course in Lynn and a supporter of the Boy Scouts. He was a dog lover, never without treats in his pocket. And Jimmy was a fiercely loyal friend.

In his later years, Jimmy spent much of his time in his barn filled with travel memorabilia, classic cars and his beloved “barn rats” — Mickey, Dick, Red, Bobby and others. They shared Jimmy’s enduring love of classic automobiles and helped catalog his unique collection of hundreds of vintage carburetors. He was a member of Strokers Car Club and, in June of this year, was inducted into the Ty-Rods Hall of Fame in Hudson.

Most of all, Jimmy was a man who enjoyed life on his own terms until his very last day. He will be missed by many.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18, at Gately Funeral Home, located at 79 West Foster St. in Melrose ( A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Rose of Lima Church, 12 Park St. in Topsfield on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Relatives and friends respectfully invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jimmy’s memory to the National Parks Service by visiting or calling 202-796-2500.