Bea Jean Heckard may be the first person to testify in court that she was damaged by a pack of angry rabid dogs while racing — but that was her sole claim to fame.
Heckard’s court case is part of a larger experiment aimed at demonstrating the consequences that even the smallest miscalculations can have on a new sport. In May, she was participating in an off-road race in the remote Canadian Rockies — she is a member of one of the world’s most progressive motorsports teams — when she turned into a gasoline tanker full of fuel. The dogs swarmed her, tearing her car apart. When police arrived, Heckard was bleeding. Dogs and other competitors watched helplessly as a third of her vehicle went into the burning bush. When bystanders tried to help, Heckard told them “I’m not going to die here.”
Heckard is on trial for a criminal assault — her third drunk driving offense — that has cost her professional driver’s license. That’s no small deal in her field. When she wakes up today for her second day of jury selection, she will officially face a five-year ban. As a former racer, she’s facing the prospect of losing her livelihood — a profession that is typically surrounded by a thin wall of protection. In fact, many thought her career was over when the team she worked for canceled her contract after her outburst in court.
Then, this happened.
In the video above, she explains how and why she manages to drive in a sport where the majority of the field is male. (Here are two others who became fierce defenders.)
The video also shows a future star who, instead of watching her face crumble, refused to surrender. During her first day in court, she cried on the witness stand, addressed her one lost chance after another, and — once she calmly adjusted her voice and cleared her voice — testified on her own behalf.
Every day, Heckard will be asked whether the fear of a future suspension impacted her ability to assert herself. Every day, she will answer “no.”
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