Don’t ask Katie Westfall where her fiancée finished in last Saturday’s feature race in the Schinkels Gourmet Meats UMP Modifieds.
It’s kind of hard watching a race with tears in your eyes, you’re shaking like a leaf and people are hugging you non-stop for about a half-hour.
As Dan McIntyre’s No. 77 was coming out of turn two on the parade lap before the feature, Westfall noticed an unusual white blur on the side of the blue and yellow machine.
“Everyone was pointing at him as he came around the corner … I could see there was something different on his car,” she said.
As the car got closer to where she was sitting in the pitside grandstand, Westfall froze when she saw the sign.
“Katie, Marry Me?”
“I was shocked,” Westfall recalled her reaction when she saw the sign.
“I was in shock for the entire race, I couldn’t even talk.
“I have no idea where he even finished!” she said.
Friends and fans rushed over to congratulate Westfall throughout the 25-lap feature.
Somewhere along the way, she told someone the answer was ‘yes.’
Her response was relayed to the tower, as the fans gave the loving couple a huge ovation when her answer was announced during a caution.
“I heard it on race receiver,” McIntyre said, “it actually came over the radio (that) she said yes.”
The two Windsor natives began dating about 18 months ago, as they went out for dinner together through friends.
The green flag waved immediately.
Of course, both coming from racing backgrounds was a big help.
Westfall’s grandfather Baz Westfall and McIntyre’s grandfathers Harry McIntyre and Bill Davidson were veteran drivers at the former Checker Flag Raceway.
Dan’s father Emerson also races in the Modified class at South Buxton.
“My family has always been into racing, so Dan fit right in,” Westfall said with a laugh.
She said Dan’s unique proposal came completely out of the blue.
“We’ve talked about it (marriage) a little bit, I think that was why I was even more surprised, I really wasn’t expecting it,” she said.
“Especially not during racing season,” she said, laughing again.
McIntyre said he had been thinking of a “creative way” of proposing.
“I had been brainstorming all week and it hit me on Thursday … it was starring me right in the face,” he said of where the idea originated.
He had the sign made up during his lunch break on Friday and hid it inside his hauler.
“When everyone went to their seats at the start of the feature, me and my guys put it on the car,” McIntyre said of his crew members Ryan Coop, Justin Huot, Steve Sneddon and Dan’s grandfather Davidson.
They put a garbage bag over the sign as the car went through the pits so none one would notice. A crewman removed the bag in the chute.
Dan’s mother Kathy usually watches the feature from atop the hauler of Rob Young, a Sports Stock driver from Kingsville, but Westfall’s parents were at the races so she watched from the pit grandstand.
“I saw Dan coming into the turn and wondered about the white sign said, and I found out quickly,” she said.
“I still can’t believe how fast I got up to the stands to congratulate Katie,” she said.
“I think I should apologize to the people in the stands, we did make quite a bit of noise,” Kathy added.
“And I didn’t even know who won the feature … or where Dan or Em even finished!” she laughed about her son and husband.
After the feature, McIntyre was already out of his car when everyone came running over … Katie, the families and a few dozen fans.
“I think she was blown away, she didn’t see it coming,” he said.
After the excitement died down, he went back into the hauler and came out with the engagement ring.
The hugs and tears started all over again.
The couple have set Feb. 25 as the date, but haven’t decided on their destination wedding.
For the record, Dan finished 11th and Emerson finished 13th.