THE LINDSAY FLASH
It will be well worth a couple minutes.
Take a look at this informal Sprinter
in-car video from Lawton (OK)
Speedway on June 29,
2013. It’s the heart of Sprint Car racing. Check out how the driver
dallies around the inside for a few laps before going upstairs and
finding something to bite on. Then it’s about chasing down,
stalking, and finally getting the leader, Danny Smith, for the win.
No small feat. Fifty-something “Oklahoma Danny” Smith has been
racing Sprinters for years, including on the World of Outlaws tour.
was somewhat surprising to see just who it was jumping out of the
cockpit in Victory Lane: Oklahoma’s “Lindsay Flash,” 19-year-old,
103-pound Harli White, who ended up winning both the winged and
non-wing Oil Capital Racing Series for 2013. That name might well
ring a bell. Her story is incredible.
Back in 2008, at age
12, Harli ventured onto 1-44 Speedway in Oklahoma City, for her
first race. That Okie clay was already in her blood, direct from her
dad, Charlie, a journeyman Modified wheelman. Harli got the hang of
it right off the trailer. She was passing cars in the B-main when
she slipped into the wall, went onto her side, and the car burst
into flames. She was trapped while Charlie and others struggled
mightily for what seemed an eternity to get her out. She could hear
her Dad’s mournful calls, assumed it was all over, shut her eyes,
and gave up.
The next thing she remembers was lying on the
track, outside the car, someone on top of her. It was Donnie Ray
Crawford, an ultra-popular, up and coming racer, still in his fire
suit, gloves, and helmet. Lined up for the next event, he had leapt
out of his car, run down the straightaway, charged right into the
inferno, unhooked Harli, and rolled her on the ground to extinguish
the flames. The injuries were savage, covering 40% of her body.
She calls the pain a million on a scale of one to ten, especially in
therapy at Shriner’s Hospital. It lasted six months.
exactly one year later – same car, same track, same race, she was
back in the office, amazingly ending up fourth in points for the
season at both I-44 and Dutton Speedways. “If someone told me I
couldn’t race again, then I should have died in my accident. I’m not
going to turn down my dreams for some scars.”
Some of this
resilience certainly stemmed from a supportive relationship with
Donnie Ray who became a mentor to her, in racing and in life. Their
families became close as well.
Then, with January of 2012,
came a misfortune even more hauntingly shocking than the first one.
As she prepared to climb into a Midget at the Chili Bowl, news came
that Donnie Ray had been shot and killed at his home by his mentally
ill grandfather, who also died in the fray. All this happened the
day before Donnie Ray was to move in with the Whites while he would
take coursework in petroleum engineering at University of Oklahoma
The entire racing community was stunned; the Crawfords and Whites
were understandably devastated.
After three winters, Donnie
Ray remains ever-present in Harli’s mind. “He was my hero. He saved
me and now he is gone. That’s not how it is supposed to work. So I
race. And the more I race, the more I think I am making him happy.”
As the 2102 season went into summer, Harli experimented with a
Sprinter she and her father put together. It went well – and 2013
turned out sensationally. 2014 has been strong too, especially with
some top ten runs in USAC Sprint races.
|Royal Jones, here with Harli,
knows racing. As well as running an eight-figure
trucking concern, he races Modifieds and Sprinters
and promotes El Paso Speedway Park and Southern New
Mexico Speedway. Not knowing who she was, he
recently ended up racing against Harli. “We were
side by side, lap after lap, a quarter-inch apart,
passing high and low. I thought, ‘Man, who is this
girl?’ Right afterwards I went over to give her a
hug and tell her how good she is. She drives way
beyond her years. I’m helping sponsor her now. She’s
going places.” (White Family Collection)
Here’s what Harli, now a full-time
racer with a small graphics side business, says about that race at
"Wow, was that surface ever dry slick. You had to
grab whatever you could down there on the bottom, so I had to go
looking for something. It was fun then to blow by those guys on the
Then came Danny Smith. Gosh, he’s been racing a lot
longer than I am old. I knew it would be tough, but I thought I
could eventually get him. I tried a couple of times. Then, going
into one, I slid him, and powered by on the inside.
I think I
am in pretty good shape now. People ask me if I am as good a driver
as I was before the fire. Of course I am. I’ve had six years to
There have been hurdles. I have definitely lost
some of that sensory feedback from burns on my back and legs, but it
never really worried me. I had no internal injuries and I have no
problem with endurance. And there are no lingering issues in my
head. Frankly, I am comfortable in the car. I guess God gave me
strength and not fear.
I haven’t any new mentors. I still
look up to Donnie Ray. He’s the only one. I watched him race and
operate in the pits whenever I possibly could. Like him, I do
everything on the car – setups, valves, whatever is necessary. I
still use what I learned back in those days, and it is my intention
to be doing the same thing ten years from now, preferably with the
Donnie Ray could really take it into the turn. He
was aggressive, but smart. Patient. Smooth. Fast."
sounds like what we saw in that YouTube clip.
|Harli. (White Family
© 2014 Lew Boyd
- Coastal 181
you were interested in this Tearoff, you might enjoy
the books below: