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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Flag Girl

For the first half century of my life I drove a truck with manual transmission, which is to say a standard transmission, or stick shift.  So when I showed up early in the morning at the service entrance of the Phoenix Raceway in Arizona, looking to see what race cars did in their downtime, someone mistook me for staff, or help, or someone's girlfriend because the gates swung open for me.  I drove onto the racetrack and headed for a tall viewing stand in the infield.  Mechanics ran out to intercept me; apparently I was not meant to drive my street truck on the raceway.  I immediately and sincerely apologized, going on breathlessly to explain how happy I was to be there, how it was my first time at a race track, and could I watch?  I was a pretty, happy young woman so maybe it was not surprising that they said, sure, climb on up this stand, you can be flag girl!  At the top of the stand they handed me a flag and someone drove a low, gleaming, snarling car around the track and I snapped the flag at him each time he passed the stand.  A couple of rounds and the game was over.  I drove off as happy as a lark.


However, I must have missed the main road out because I soon found myself off-road in fairly deep sand along an arroyo.  The sandy road abruptly ran out in a mire of deep sand into which my trunk plunged and stuck.  This was before cell phones and my only option seemed to be a long, long hike back to the raceway in ankle-deep sand.  I dropped the tailgate and sat down on it to think things over.  Daytime temperatures in Arizona reach into the 90s and 100s, so I really did not want to walk for help.  As I took my time thinking I realized that I had gotten myself stuck in a desolate area, with no one in sight, just desert scrub as far as I could see.  Then, after about half an hour, here came a rescue squad, half a dozen men roared up in a heavy-duty tow truck.  (Apparently there were external cameras at the Phoenix Raceway, or someone with binoculars watched me drive away?)  The men did not say anything, they just set up a winch to my truck with a lot of yelling and jumping around, so I backed off to see how they would handle this.  In seconds they had my truck out of the sand and positioned in the right direction.  Then they roared off with whoops and hollers.  What an experience!  I was a very lucky young woman.


Phoenix Raceway

non-commercial use of online screen capture 2024

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