Hot Rod Annie

When I was young, my family had 2 passions: horses and stock cars. My mom was the horse-lover and my dad, the speed-induced adrenaline junkie. These worlds, at times, did overlap when they would each participate in the other’s hobby.

One such overlap was when my mom drove in a powder puff race. Allied Association held this ladies-only race every racing season. As with most sporting events in the mid-70s, women were not welcomed in normal competition. So, the powder puff race was their day to shine.

Hot Rod Annie, as Mom was called when she was younger, had no fear of racing. She earned that name as a teenager. I remember hearing stories of how she used to take on the boys in street dragging. My dad’s recollection of the story paints a perfect picture for me: Mom in a truck, some guy in a car next to her. Both sit at the red light revving their engines. When the light turns green, tires squeal and smoke fills the air. Oh, how I would have loved to have seen her back then.

Mom had raced in the powder puff race before without any problems. However, on this night in Belleville, IL, the race would end differently. Badly. She and another driver were jockeying between first and second place. The car behind her passed on the low side in turn 4, and her competitive spirit got the best of her. She gunned it to regain her lead and lost control. Her car spun, then ran head first into a concrete pillar in the pit area. The ambulance, always on standby, entered the pits and took her immediately to the hospital.

She suffered fractured facial bones due to the impact onto the steering wheel. The maxillary fractures would require surgery. My dad was horrified when the surgeon explained that they had to remove the eyeball in order to insert the new artificial cheekbone. She recovered well. Although, if you looked at her straight on, an unevenness in her facial features was now evident. She was so beautiful, though, it didn’t matter. It just added a little character.

This accident could have easily ended her life. However, God was not ready for her . . . at least, not yet. He intervened that night and saved her so that her youngest daughter, and those who loved her most, could have a little more time with her on earth. For that, I am grateful.

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