To the 16-Year-Old Maine Stock Car Racer Who Says She’s Being Targeted
To Bella Flaherty:
I read the accounts you mentioned of getting death threats, of being approached on and off the track, and about how you've been rammed into during the beginning of a race or driven into the wall.
I even read the full statement you released on your Flaherty Motorsports page, mentioning how it seems like it's only happening at one race track and how people of all ages and genders are saying the most vile things to you.
I have boys, girls, people from all ages as young as 10 saying horrible things. I’ve been stopped on the way in and my car slammed on, chased to my pit pad, grown men waiting to fight when I get out of my car.
And honestly, Bella, after reading all of this, I only have one thing to say to you.
DON'T. YOU. DARE. FRICKIN. STOP. RACING.
That CBS 13 article I read about you mentions that right now, you're currently sitting at #4 in the standings in your division. A division that sees you racing against grown adults. And you know what that says to me?
You're damn good at what you do. You have some serious talent. And the only reason these "grown adults" are targeting you the way they are seems to clearly be due to a really sensitive, easily bruised ego.
And if you think about it, what a huge compliment to you and your skills at the end of the day. You're so good at what you do and are such an intimidating athlete that you have "grown adults" literally dropping to new, entirely low depths where they're threatening a 16-year-old girl's life, health, and well-being.
Obviously, there are way better compliments to focus on that actually fill you with pride, love, and joy as opposed to fear and the feeling of being disrespected. But consider this letter your sign.
Your sign that you're crushing it. Your sign to keep going and, to steal a quote from Ricky Bobby, your sign to "go faster." At the end of the day, these people truly seem just jealous that in only six years, you're showing more talent and success than most of them do after spending most of their lives training and working at this.
And that's not a shot against them, that's just simply stating facts. Keep doing what you're doing and also keep looking out for yourself the way you have been, like withdrawing from competition from this particular track where you've had all these (quite honestly, pathetic) issues.
Hopefully, you're at the end of this letter saying, "Yeah, I already know all this, thanks for stating the obvious." But I'm of the belief that sometimes, people just need a reminder of who the hell they are and that through all the crap that can be flung their way, there are people rooting for them.
Go get 'em, Bella! And stay safe!