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Here comes the vroooommmm: Race postponement changes in wedding plans

May 6, 1997

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) _ Wendy Mullinax was hoping to hear ``Here Comes the Bride″ this Saturday. Instead, it will be ``Gentlemen, start your engines.″

For eight months, Mullinax had her wedding to Felix Burns planned for May 10 at the small church she went to as a child, right across from Talladega Superspeedway.

It was all working out perfectly until rain washed out the Winston 500 on April 27 and 28, forcing NASCAR officials to move it to the same day as the wedding.

``I thought, `Oh my God, what are we going to do now?‴ said Mullinax, a nurse at a hospital in Orange Beach.

There was no way the 180 wedding guests would be able to battle through an expected crowd of 100,000, who would be filing out of the raceway at 6 p.m., when the ceremony was supposed to start.

With help from the raceway, the Mullinax family changed plans and moved the ceremony up to Friday. At that, the wedding will go about two hours after the end of a practice session at the track.

After getting a call from the family, the track paid for new invitations and picked up the cost of rescheduling the photographer, said track spokesman Rick Humphrey. He said the track wasn’t aware of the wedding when it rescheduled the race, although he conceded there was doubtful anything could have been changed.

That sent the Mullinaxes scurrying.

``We had to rearrange the caterer, we had to rearrange the flowers, we had to rearrange the photographer, and on and on,″ Mullinax said.

The stress level picked up considerably, but Mullinax said two weeks’ notice gave her time to change all the plans.

Ironically, the family had a possible rainout in mind when they chose May 10 for the wedding.

``We decided to schedule it two weeks after, because we figured if there was a rainout, they would come back the next week,″ she said.

A previously scheduled race in California prevented that, and this weekend was the next open date on the circuit’s schedule.

There were some things Mullinax couldn’t change. All the mementos _ the napkins, the original invitations, the wedding programs _ say May 10. But in 10 years, she’ll be able to tell a better story than most when she shows off her wedding album.

``Growing up around here, I went to every single race from time I was 2 to 16,″ she said. ``Through all this, I still consider myself a race fan.″

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