After years of run-ins with the law, Chase Marshall Hardin was working toward reopening his tow-truck business and eventually join the local race-car circuit and capture the success that his grandfather celebrated decades ago.
Last month, Hardin, 31, accompanied his longtime friend Jimmy Ngo to the Valley Speedway in Grain Valley for a race. Hardin helped work on Ngo’s car before the race, saving the day by finding brake line and oil line leaks.
He felt the spirit of his grandfather, C.M. Hower Jr., with him.
“He had one of the best nights of his life,” Ngo said Tuesday. “We won that night because of Chase and how his Grandpa Jr. Hower had trained him up. He swore his grandpa shown him those leaks.”
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On Monday, Kansas City police found Hardin’s body in the 8600 block of Woodland Avenue, sprawled just off a walking path near the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail near Legacy East Park.
Police are calling his death a homicide. The cause of death has not been released. The death came 10 days after news broke that four other homicides near a separate trail system shared similarities.
“My nephew Chase Marshall was lost and now is no longer fighting his demons. So sad,” his aunt wrote on a Facebook post.
Hardin was sentenced to probation in early March after pleading guilty to possessing marijuana and burglary. A Jackson County judge suspended the prison sentence and placed Hardin on three years’ probation.
Prior to that, Hardin was sentenced to a Missouri prison in August 2008 when his probation was revoked on a tampering conviction from Lafayette County. He was paroled in March 2009.
Alan Hardin said he was too distraught to talk about his son’s death. Other relatives could not be reached for comment.
Ngo said he met Chase Hardin about 16 years ago. The two shared a common bond with racing and hit it off immediately.
In recent years, Hardin occasionally accompanied Ngo to a church in the Northland.
“He loved God with all of his heart,” Ngo said. “He was just battling a lot of stuff in his life.”
Ngo said Hardin had an attitude and a spirit that were outgoing. Hardin was the life of the party.
Recently, Hardin was working to resume operating a tow service.
Hardin’s grandfather C.M. Hower Jr. passed away in November. He was 94.
According to his obituary, Hower was active in the Central Auto Racing Boosters and was the first driver inducted into the group’s hall of fame. In 1962, Hower captured the Missouri State Fair dirt track champion.
“His biggest dream was to go out and win races like his grandpa,” Ngo said of Hardin.