LINDSAY — In the White family, racing is shared through the generations.
Twelve-year-old Harli White was carrying on the family tradition Saturday when she drove in her first sprint car race at the I-44 Speedway in southwest Oklahoma City.
Then something went wrong.Now, Harli has having to prove her mettle. Harli suffered third-degree burns on most of her body after the car she was driving caught fire on the track. She's hospitalized in a Galveston, Texas hospital, recovering from one of many surgeries she will have to undergo in the next few weeks. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, family members said.
Her father, who drives stock cars at local tracks, pulled her from the burning car Saturday evening as a crowd of racing fans looked on. Charlie White suffered burns on his left hand, said Koye Baade, Harli's aunt. The raceway is located at 4100 SW 149 St.
Harli was taken to the OU Medical Center on Saturday night and then flown to the Shriners' Burn Hospital for Children about 4 a.m. Sunday.
"They're just trying to keep her out of pain," said Misti Southern, Harli's aunt. "She's doing all right. She's a tough little booger."
Harli was alert and talked to her family shortly after her first surgery, but doctors are keeping her sedated to help her body heal from massive burns, Southern said.
Meanwhile, family and community members are looking for ways to help. Members of the family's church, First Baptist Church of Lindsay, took up a collection Sunday morning to assist with medical bills.
Family members are also selling T-shirts to help raise money for Harli's medical bills. At the One Way Print and Stitch in Purcell, Harli's aunt and grandmother were printing shirts today that said, "God Has the Power, So Pray," to benefit the White family.
"We're printing up 500, we think we'll have those sold," said Baade, who owns the print shop with Harli's grandmother, Pat Wagstaff. "The Lindsay community is so wonderful and supportive."
The shirts are being printed in a variety of colors — including pink, Harli's favorite color. Shirts are $15, and $7.50 will go toward Harli's medical bills.
"Her family's doing OK," Baade said. "She's in a lot of pain, but she's doing good, considering. We'll get through this."
Shirts to support Harli are available at One Way Print and Stitch, 218 W Main Street, Purcell.