Roughly 100 fearless stock car drivers battle more than 200 laps at Enid Motor Speedway on Saturday nights with only five of them making their way to the winner's circle for a few moments of fame.

While these competitors bask in the limelight, there are many unsung heroes who work behind the scenes, making the drivers' recognition possible. One of the most modest track employees is flagman Ron Nepstad.

Nepstad climbs into the flag stand every Saturday and waves flags all night long -- starting races, ending races and guaranteeing the safety of every driver at the track. Nepstad is in his second season as flag man.

The dedicated flag man said he truly enjoys his role at Enid Motor Speedway and looks forward to Saturday nights.

"I love flagging, and I love racing," said Nepstad. "I have a pretty good view of all the action from the flag stand."

Though only in his sophomore season as a flagman, Nepstad is no stranger to the sport of stock car racing. His father raced late models for many years and took him to many racetracks. They hitchhiked across the country from Minnesota to Florida when Nepstad was 10 years old to visit the legendary Daytona International Speedway.

"My dad was a serious racer and even raced in the Grand Nationals," he said. "In fact my dad was racing the night I was born."

During the 1970s Nepstad strapped on a helmet and experienced his own racing career in Germany during his tour in the United States Army.

Ever so humble, Nepstad was reluctant to admit he was quite successful finishing third overall. In 1980 Nepstad moved to Enid and met racing legend Lonnie Colville. His fate was sealed as he spent the next few seasons as a key player in Colville's pit crew, helping him secure several track championships. When Colville retired from the sport and began working at Enid Motor Speedway Nepstad joined his long-standing racing partner and signed on as a corner flagman. The next season he was promoted to senior flagman.

"I have always loved racing and had a great time pitting for Lonnie," said Nepstad. "In fact my first date with my wife, Joy, was in the pits."

Colville was close to the couple and was the best man at their wedding. The couple and the entire wedding party spent the evening following their exchange of vows at the local racetrack.

"My wife, Joy, works at the track, entering the race statistics into the computer," said Nepstad. "She loves working at the track as much as I do."

Every driver likes being the first one to the checkered flag, and Nepstad finds it the most gratifying part of his profession.

"The most rewarding part of my job is throwing the checkered flag for the winners," said Nepstad. "The hardest part of my job is keeping track of the laps, but I definitely hate having to throw the black flag. It is never fun to disqualify anyone."

Nepstad said over the years drivers have hauled taller trailers, which make it impossible to see all areas of the track. He relies on his trusty corner men to alert him to wrecks and rough driving not visible from the flag stand. Pit boss Lonnie Colville and corner men Casey VonScriltz, David Hawthorne, Tim Mullins and Kenny Smith all comprise the skilled team.

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