If I were an automobile, and pain were high octane gasoline, last night I could have won the Phoenix 500 of torment. Pain grabs you by the engine, revs your nerves up, and drives you crazy tossing and turning. I was up all night trying to sleep, so I spent some time with my memories.
One day, maybe forty years ago, I decided to check out the Phoenix International Raceway, of NASCAR and IndyCar Series fame, which was located about half an hour out of Phoenix, Arizona. I knew nothing about auto racing, but I wanted to give the roar and fumes a chance, even if it would be an extremely remote chance.
When I got to the raceway they were practicing for the Phoenix 500. It was closed to the public, but I drove up in my Ford F150 truck, purchased from the dealership of none other than famed American professional stock car racing driver and champion team owner, Dale Ernhardt, Jr., to the gate and charmed my way in. They put me out on a platform next to the race track, handed me a checkered flag, and said “Wave this every time a car goes by.” I do not know what the drivers thought, but I certainly had an entertaining five minutes flapping that flag at them as they roared past in fumes. I left fairly quickly, immediately after I saw the first tire go flying off, out of control. Racing was not for me, but what fun for a second! I could have added checkered flag girl to my curriculum vita.
On the way out I took a wrong turn, got distracted into a dry desert arroyo that had looked like a road, and got stuck in sand up to my running boards. This was before cell phones, so I was stranded in the desert, which caused me some worry. A while later a bunch of trucks came barreling down the gulch, muscular men jumped out, waved me back, and winched my truck up out of the sand. They left with a smile and a blast of sand, but not one word to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you...
Caption: Annmarie Throckmorton, it hurts—2017 selfie.