LINCOLN Racers parked their battered, mud-caked cars and took off their helmets. Race officials looked up from their clip boards, and a crowd of Bump and Run fans hushed Saturday night as Bobby Thomas and Heather Usher got married.
The 37-year-old bride wore a white halter-top dress and carried a bouquet of silk flowers. Bobby, 29, wore black shorts, and a black vest over a purple polo shirt. On his lapel was a framed portrait of his late mother, Cindy.
As he waited for his future wife and the rest of the wedding party to arrive at the racing pit, Bobby put up with some good-natured kidding from announcers Kevin Boyat and Al Scully in the tower above the track. They reminded him that he could change his mind and run away, but Bobby stayed put.
"I love everything about her," Bobby said. "She's been there through thick and thin."
Among their trials: both lost their moms several years ago; Heather was bit by a brown recluse spider; someone stole her engagement ring, and their two daughters, 7-year-old Kaylee Thomas and 8-year-old Tawndaleya Thomas were born autistic.
"Marriage just strengthens our relationship," Bobby said.
In an interview a few days before the wedding, Heather also spoke about why she loved Bobby. She met him when he was 19, and their first date took place at the county fair's bump and run race 10 years ago.
"He's one of the funniest people I know," she said. "I just know that we've been together 10 years and I told him I'm not going anywhere and he said he's not going anywhere."
The couple began planning their wedding several months ago and got permission and support for the ceremony from Boyat, who is an Alcona County Commissioner and fair volunteer.
The only thing missing was a minister to perform the ceremony. One pastor backed out, Heather said. So friend Adam Martin came up with a solution. He took an online class, paid a fee and was ordained to preside over the couple's exchange of vows and rings.
From the booth, Boyat and Scully congratulated the couple as they kissed, and the crowd cheered and applauded. Then the racers put their helmets back on and climbed into their cars, and race officials picked up their clip boards and the roar of the track rumbled back to life.
As the sun set and the skies turned a soft steel blue hue, Boyat told the crowd from the announcer's tower, "They're going to remember this for the rest of their lives."
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.