e crowd screamed in horror as a group of men, including Harli's father, struggled to free the girl.
When Crawford reached into Harli's car and removed the steering wheel, things looked grim. The girl was spitting up the flame retardant emergency crews had doused on the car. She wasn't fighting the flames.
"I saw her hair. I saw she had her helmet off. I thought this was going to turn out to be horrible,” Crawford said. "It wasn't near as bad as you'd expect. It's an absolute miracle her face wasn't just completely burnt off because she had no cover, absolutely nothing fireproof on her face.”
The men emerged from the inferno with Harli. EMSA paramedics, who are always on-site during races, quickly rushed her away.
‘Just a freak accident'
Harli's family has described her as a fighter. Now she's having to prove her mettle. She remains hospitalized at Shriners' Burn Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas, recovering from one of many surgeries she will have to undergo in the next few weeks, her father said.
"She's a tough little booger,” said Misti Southern, Harli's aunt.
Charlie White suffered burns on his left hand while helping pull his daughter from the car.
He was by his daughter's side in Texas, where she was flown after being taken to OU Medical Center on Saturday night.
"It was just a freak accident. There's no reason why it should have caught fire. We had the best safety equipment possible,” Charlie White said.
White would know. He's been racing stock cars at local tracks for years, but admitted he's considering "retiring” after what happened to his daughter. Until her car hit a wall and burst into flames a few laps into her first race, White's daughter was doing something she'd waited most of her life to do: race.
"She's a natural. A born natural race car driver,” Charlie White said.
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, family members said.
Contributing: Staff Writers Jeff Raymond and Ray Martin