Mon, July 02, 2007
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Becky Harrington watches her husband, Bill, work on a truck while Becky's stock car sits at their auto repair shop, waiting for its next race.
Dean Knuth / arizona daily star
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Racing

He sped, she sped

Autos brought couple together, set them apart
By Patrick Finley
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.02.2007
Most nights, Bill and Becky Harrington close down Flash Automotive Repair around 5.
They walk back toward the garage, where two race cars and one truck await a night's work of wrenching and painting. When Bill isn't under a car, Becky will run out and pick up some food to bring back to the garage. They'll stay until midnight, only to return by 7:30 a.m. for their day jobs at the shop on 22nd Street near Pantano Road.
"At 5 o'clock, we flip the sign," Bill said, "and become a race crew."
Becky leads the NASCAR Mini Stock points race at Tucson Raceway Park with 512 points; Bill, 48, leads the TRP modifieds with 478.
Becky has won three of her six races this year. When she won the season opener, the 43-year-old became the first woman to win a NASCAR Mini Stock race at TRP.
She races with her stuffed "fronkey" — a monkey with a frog's face — hanging on the frame behind the driver's seat. After every race, she gives it away to kids who wander into the pits.
Painted across where the back seat would be is the tribute to her husband/mechanic/crew chief — "Thank you Bill for all your hard work and late nights workin on my #22 — Becky."
They were made for each other. Six years ago, Becky brought her car — the street-legal one — into an auto shop where Bill worked. He asked her out, and they wound up at TRP for their first date.
"I don't think we even saw any racing that night," she said. "We sat at the picnic table in front and just talked and talked and talked."
Bill's father and brothers raced cars while growing up. Becky, one of three girls but the only tomboy, stayed at the feet of her drag racing father in Tucson.
"Instead of going out with my friends, I'd be in the garage with my dad," she said.
She rode motorcycles in the desert and later raced in events sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America.
Bill and Becky were married by a justice of the peace in September 2001. They raced against each other for a year or so, but decided to split into different divisions. It was easier that way. Neither Bill nor Becky get too worried when they watch each other's races — they've been doing it for too long.
"I get nervous, a little bit, when I know there's people out there in the division that have a tendency to crash more often," Bill said. "There's a little sheet metal being exchanged."
Becky said it took a while for her to overcome bias against her gender.
"In my first couple years, I had some guys that took some hard, cheap shots at me," she said. "At the end of the first year they gave me a thumbs-up and a high-five. They said, 'I thought you were going to whimper off and cry, and you hung in there.'
"They have a lot of respect for me now."
Dan Ruth, who bought TRP almost one year ago, said Becky was "a short-fused pistol" last year. He said she appealed to fans not only because of her gender, but also because she was often the only truck driver in a race. This year, Becky has won races both with a truck and a car.
"Now the light just turned on," he said.
The new garage has something to do with it. The Harringtons bought the shop a year ago April when Bill figured he should be his own boss. Becky, a retired nurse, answers phones and does the books.
The shop gives them a place to work on their cars; before, they would do it outside near their home in Corona de Tucson, near Vail. That's where, without as much as a shade tree, they would dodge scorpions, snakes, mountain lions, coyotes, javelinas and, once, a snake as black and thick as a racing tire.
In the garage, Bill is "the wrench," building motors, fixing the dented body and just about anything else. Becky takes care of putting on the decals — her No. 22 and his No. 2 are in the shape of cobras — and painting the cars black.
"We make a perfect couple in that regard," Bill said.