Cathy and Paul Dunn were married earlier this month at 75-80 Dragway near Monrovia.
With a bright blue sky and the sun shining, Paul drove his 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle to the Christmas tree, the stoplights drivers look to, and waited for his bride. Hamdi Aljallad, a friend from her work, drove Cathy in her 1970 Chevy Nova.
It was the perfect location for the two.
"The first time I came here, it was intoxicating," Cathy said.
She was immediately drawn to the cars, crowds cheering for the drivers and the excitement of a drag race. As a child, she watched her older brother, a mechanic, work on his cars.
My fianc? "was my enabler," she said, laughing. "I had enough grease under my fingernails and he made me get it on my face."
Paul's family has a history at the track.
"I've been coming here since I was a little kid with my father. He used to race here in the '60s," he said.
Paul didn't race until he became an adult, but once he started, "I got the bug and stuck with it."
Neither can get enough.
Having the wedding at the track "was my idea, as a joke, and it came out really well," said Kelly Brown, Paul's sister.
Cathy and Paul met in 2001 at a roller rink in Rockville. For the first four years, the two were just friends. In spring 2005, they went on their first date -- at the dragway.
This year, 75-80 Dragway celebrates its 50th anniversary. Bill Wilcom opened the track with his family in 1960 and ran it for 45 years, until 2005. During that time, a handful of couples have wed at the dragway, he said.
Today, the drag strip is owned by 75-80 Dragway Inc., and run by Lisa Stanley, manager.
Kellie Renich, Cathy's matron of honor and longtime best friend, said, "Neither really dress up, so seeing them dressed up, they looked extra distinguished."
She wore a strapless bridal gown and 3-inch heels, with her hair down.
He wore a black suit with a black and white checkered bow tie and black and white checkered Vans, a type of tennis shoe.
Just before the two exchanged rings, the Rev. Bill Cochran, officiate, said: "This is the point in the ceremony when we usually speak about wedding bands being a perfect circle, having no beginning and no end.
"We all know, however, that these rings do, in fact, have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied in a furnace at 1,000 degrees. Hot metal is poured into a mold, cooled, and then painstakingly polished -- something beautiful is made from raw elements.
"Love is like that. It's hot, dirty work. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It's the process of making something beautiful where there was seemingly nothing at all. It's our wearing them which makes them precious.
"Your rings say, that even as individuals, you've chosen to be joined together and that above all, despite its occasional challenges, love is a circle of trust. Years from now, the indentations made by your rings will not only be visible, but felt as well."
Paul's wedding band had an engraved checkered pattern around it. The two searched high and low for the ring, and were thrilled when they found it, said Hazel Dunn, Paul's mother.
Through the entire ceremony, flower girl and Paul's niece, 9-year-old Kristy Brown, was smiling to the audience. "I was thinking, 'Wow! My uncle is finally getting married,'" she said, laughing. Her brother, 11-year-old Kyle Brown, was the ring bearer.
Bill Dunn, Paul's father, served as best man. "They get along so well -- it's like a father and best friend, all rolled into one," said Hazel, Bill's wife.
The ceremony ended with a race -- Cathy and Paul raced each other to the finish line.
Just before she was ready to go, Cathy changed into red and white checkered tennis shoes. To ready his car, Paul reversed and burned some rubber.
Racing down the track, guests saw the cars -- Paul's, in the closest lane, read, "Just," and Cathy's car, in the far lane, read, "Married."
Within a fraction of a second Paul beat Cathy. He doesn't beat her often. The night before, during the rehearsal, she won more times than he did.
Rick Brown, Paul's brother-in-law, who helped Paul build the Chevelle's engine, said, "He chased her down the track and then pulled in front."
After greeting guests, everyone headed to the Willow Tree Inn at Montgomery Village and feasted on a lunch buffet with chicken piccata, London broil and seafood Newburg. The couple's three-tiered wedding cake was encircled with photos of race cars.
The next morning, they flew to Florida and spent the week at Disney World. When they return, they will live in Damascus.
All in all, Kelly Brown knew it was the right wedding for Cathy and Paul. "They were in their element."