Sunday, April 4, 2004

Nuptials, not NASCAR, at Kentucky Speedway

By Emily Hagedorn
Enquirer contributor

Lori and Jack Petty leave Victory Lane following their wedding ceremony at the Kentucky Speedway on Saturday. They are the second couple to be married at the racetrack.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/JEFF SWINGER
SPARTA - It's the adrenaline. The speed. The camaraderie.

Not NASCAR racing - the Pettys' wedding.

Lori Howell and Jack Petty, both of Burlington, started their engines together as a married couple Saturday at the Kentucky Speedway.

The second wedding at the track, the Pettys nuptials took place in the Winner's Circle in the center of the speedway.

"I love the smell of the fuels. I love the sound of the racing engines," said the new Mrs. Petty, 36. "We live it everyday."

While not directly related to the legendary racing Petty family, the couple enjoy car racing.

The idea of the themed wedding came up after Howell visited the track to see her favorite driver, Jimmy Johnson, practice.

Lori ran into Pam Mylor, an employee at the speedway, who told her the track hosted another wedding on Valentine's Day 2003.

"It's something that people get involved with. It's in their blood," said Mylor, the track tour and banquet coordinator for corporate and social events.

The Pettys' wedding came complete with checkered flags and car-shaped chocolates on tables in Bluegrass Hall, behind the Winner's Circle where the couple held their reception.

The colors: blue and yellow. They match the Speedway and are Johnson's signature colors, Howell said.

The bridesmaids wore Kentucky blue dresses while the groomsmen sported the same shade in their vests.

The bride and bridesmaids' and centerpiece flowers followed the same two-color pattern. Lori wore a white chiffon gown and veil.

Stephen Hoffman, who presided over the ceremony, has married couples on planes and trains and has presided over Star Trek weddings.

He said weddings should be tailored to the bride's and groom's personalities.

The non-denominational wedding before about 100 guests lasted about 30 minutes.

With Hoffman's "Gentlemen, start your engines," the men revealed bottles of club soda, shook them and sprayed them on the newlyweds - a Winner's Circle tradition.

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Nuptials, not NASCAR, at Kentucky Speedway