Fulfilling a Dream; Mong was Destined to be  Flagman

By Ken de la Bastide

(March 3, 2011) – When growing up most children dream of having the ideal job in the future whether it be a teacher, doctor, athlete, or driving a race car.

For Gary Mong the dream was to be a flagman and race promoter. Part of that dream was fulfilled in 2009 when he took over those duties from veteran Kenny Wright at Anderson Speedway.

Growing up in Muncie at the age of 10, Mong was the flagman for weekly bicycle races in his neighborhood. He also secured prizes for the race winners.“There was something about having the control,” Mong said.

Mong started working at Anderson Speedway in 2006 and told Wright at some point in time he wanted to be a flagman.

“Anderson was the first track I ever flagged,” he said. “That first time I was a nervous wreck. I had watched Kenny all the time and it just came natural. Kenny has been a great mentor to me, it’s still a learning process.”

As the flagman, Mong is in charge of throwing the caution flag and watching for fluids leaking from the race cars as they go swirling past at close to 80 miles per hour

.Last year was the first time that Mong was the flagman for the Pay Less Little 500, the most prestigious pavement race in the country for sprint cars.

“I was on pins and needles,” he recalled. “Once the race started, I felt comfortable. I also knew that Kenny was there to help if I needed it. I was mentally exhausted at the end of the Little 500.”

Mong said his biggest fear is not dropping a flag during a race, but making a decision that would get someone hurt.

Since getting his start at Anderson, Mong has flagged races at Winchester Speedway and Mount Lawn.“All the tracks have the lights set up a little differently,” Mong explained.

“You have to learn where the light switches are located and how they work and where on the track the lights are positioned. At Winchester you have to rely on the tower because it’s difficult to see the turns and back stretch.”

Now 52 years of age, Mong first visited Anderson Speedway at the age of three. He has Anderson Speedway programs for every season dating back to 1968.“In the early 60’s by favorite driver was Bill Keep in the Figure-8 division,” he said. “My favorite was than Bob Fields in the Figure-8 and late models.”

During the week Mong is a manager with Marsh Supermarkets providing the stores with the office services and supplies they need. His job as a flagman has been featured in the company newsletter.

When racing action begins at Anderson Speedway on March 26 with the season opener, Mong will return to his familiar perch on the front straight watching the action and prepared to throw the yellow flag for a caution period.