You've heard of tying the knot as a euphemism for marriage?
How about taking the checkered flag?
Add that one to the vocabulary tonight at Saugus Speedway when Joani Bouton of Chatsworth and Bill Bain of Burbank exchange vows on the start-finish line of the one-third-mile paved oval.
Two weeks ago, Bain passed a note to track announcer Virgil Kirkpatrick to read over the public-address system. It was a proposal of marriage to Bouton, who was sitting near Turn 4. She heard the question and gleefully accepted.
The wedding will take place at intermission, after the trophy dashes. And everyone is invited.
No word yet on whether the couple's traditional "Just Married" car will race in any main events tonight.
Festive crowd: The Fourth of July, featuring a giant destruction derby and a fireworks show, attracted a season-high crowd of 6,134 to Saugus.
Track officials had to turn away patrons because of fire codes, but some were not so easily deterred. One group parked a truck on Soledad Canyon Road and jacked up a flatbed higher than the fence to get a bird's-eye view of the happenings.
Still others took blankets up to the hill behind the main straightaway, until Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies shooed them away.
Good idea. During last year's fireworks show, that hill caught fire.
To err is human: The apparent winner of last Saturday's 25-lap Hobby Stock oval main event was just that--apparent.
It was reported that Jim Gunnarson of Reseda was the winner, but he was disqualified during the post-race inspections.
Officials found that the compression ratio of Gunnarson's engine was too high. Gunnarson said that it was an honest mistake that occurred when he transferred the motor from another car.
Gunnarson changed cylinder heads to correct the problem and was back racing on the Fourth of July.
Meanwhile, points leader James Kusch of Sepulveda was given the win in last Saturday's main event.
Fan favorite: When Shannon Flavin of West Hills raced to victory in the Hobby Stock figure-eight main event last Saturday at Saugus Speedway, no one was more relieved than Flavin.
After all, he had some co-workers to please.
The company for which Flavin works, Infinity Audio, held a special night at the Speedway, selling discount tickets to employees. The company turned out in force--about 100 strong--and cheered Flavin's every move on the track.
Flavin, an aggressive young driver, knew he couldn't disappoint.
The figure-eight main event proved to be especially tense. A head-on collision in the intersection of Lap 2 slowed matters considerably and set the stage for the following laps, which were marked repeatedly by near-misses as the leaders raced through, narrowly passing slower cars heading the other way.
"That was probably the most hairy figure eight I've ever raced in," Flavin said.
But on Lap 9, when Flavin daringly passed Oliver Aguilar of Sun Valley, Flavin's fans roared their approval.
The grateful Flavin paid his fans a visit in the stands after the race.
Who knows? Maybe his boss will give him a day off for the show he put on.
The glass is half full: Poor Gerald Gledhill of Reseda.
Fans at Saugus Speedway recognize Gledhill from their programs through the month of June. He's featured in a classic before-and-after photo sequence from May 26. That night, Gledhill won a trophy dash, earning the right to pose with a trophy queen.
In a photo taken later that night, Gledhill is again seen smiling at the camera. Only this time, it's a resigned, what-are-you-gonna-do smile as he surveys his car, damaged in a collision in a figure-eight main event.
So, on the last night of June, Gledhill tried his luck again. Again he won a trophy dash. Again he showed his pearly whites with the trophy queen. And, sadly, again he suffered extreme damage to his car--this time in the oval main event--in a freak accident.
Gledhill was in the wrong place at the wrong time, striking a car that had spun out and now faced him. Gledhill was sandwiched by a car behind him and was out of action again.
But the personable Gledhill retained a refreshing perspective.
"This has been going on all year," he said with a smile and a shrug. "We haven't finished a night of racing all year, whether it's blown engines or whatever.
"But that's racing. It happens."
Gledhill knows that misfortune is inevitable. But just as certain, he says, is some good fortune.
"We had a real good year last year and we knew some problems were gonna come sometime," he said. "But you can't give up."
A crew member standing nearby offered a more practical comment.
"We're taking donations," he said, referring to the smashed hood of Gledhill's ride.
Add Gledhill: A happy postscript was added when Gledhill's crew banged the car back into shape and he was racing just four days later in the Fourth of July program at Saugus.
Gledhill credits the quick and efficient work of the folks at Renno Racing, who aided Gledhill in getting his ride back on track.
"We wheeled that car in there and everybody who was doing something dropped it and ran to work on the car," Gledhill said.
As a show of gratitude, the words "Special thanks to Renno Racing" were painted on the trunk of Gledhill's Hobby Stock car.
The lesson to be learned from all this?
"Never say never," Gledhill said.