SPEEDLUST

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Chapter 14

It was hot, even by California standard. No wind was blowing off of the high desert tonight and the usually cool evening air just wasn’t. Sandy had gone out with her girl friends from high school to Angelo’s Drive In on Whittier Boulevard. Hamburgers, milkshakes and boys! Angelo’s was buzzing tonight, the jukebox was playing rock and roll music, all Sandy’s friends were over with the football team players, flirting and laughing.

The jukebox started playing Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’, which Sandy was singing to when she spied a young man working on a sleek black car. The hood was up and he was blipping the throttle on a powerful sounding engine. Sandy walked over and stood to one side watching.

The young man came out from under the hood and glanced in Sandy’s direction, then looked away, in a moment he looked back staring directly into her eyes, “Aren’t your friends gonna miss you?”

Sandy looked towards her friends and then looked back at the young man. He was wearing a white tee shirt and blue jeans, the pant cuffs rolled up. His blonde hair was slicked back and he was wiping his greasy hands into a red rag. “I really like your car,” Sandy mustered up her most sensual sounding voice.

“What’s wrong with your voice you got laryngitis?” He shuts the hood and continues. “I had that last year about this time I could hardly talk at all and it hurt to swallow, I remember…”

“I don’t have laryngitis!” Sandy blurts out in a clear tone. “I just saw your car and you and thought I would come over and say hi.” Sandy now looks to both sides then adds, “My name is Sandy.”

“Yeah I know, I mean, I’ve seen you in school. I’m Mike…Hi,” Mike now looks nervously around, “I was just going to take her for a spin.”

Sandy looks at the car, “Her?”

Mike looks at the car and wipes a smudge from her fender, “Yeah, she’s my baby, I built her myself and she’s my ticket out of here.”

Sandy moves closer to Mike, looking into his green eyes, she loves green eyes, and asked, “Oh, where are you going, Mike?”

Wildness comes to Mike’s eyes as he contemplates this question. “I don’t know Sandy, but I can tell you wherever it is, I’m gonna go fast to get there…do you wanna go with me?”

The street lights flashing off the gleaming black hood were moving by faster and faster, the engine was roaring, now powering the car down Whittier Boulevard to speeds this old car had never seen before. Mike looked a little apprehensive as he glanced over to Sandy. As the street lights illuminated the interior for a brief moment every so often Mike could see Sandy was laughing, her white teeth gleaming surrounded by her red, red, lips, her breast stretching the fabric of her blouse, rising and falling in a crescendo of excitement that had Mike excited too.

Sandy let out a shrill shout of joy as she slammed the Hurst shifter into fourth, now they were really flying. Mike had never seen a girl drive this way; he had never met a girl like Sandy. What should he do? Mike let out a yell too, there’s only one thing to do with a girl like Sandy, Mike grabbed the door and the dash smiling ear to ear, and that’s hold on tight and enjoy the ride!

TEXAS WORLD SPEEDWAY

COLLEGE STATION ~ TEXAS ~ USA

Texas World Speedway sat barren and empty, a ghost track that had so much to offer. The super speedway had been the scene of many dramas unfolding. In the history of auto racing this place would have to be given its share of glory. Can-Am, Sports Cars, Champ Cars, and Stock Cars had all ran major events here, but now they were gone and this place was used for club racing events and testing only. Jake looked around at this place that he loved. Did the walls remember? Could an inanimate object absorb the energy expended here? The emotions of victory, the violent crashes, the pain of having a dream crushed, and yes, even the blood spilled, and the loss of a life. Did this place remember? Jake thought it did and he revered this place as he did many of the tracks where he had raced and won or lost, these monuments to auto racing that he called tabernacles of speed.

Today team Rhoad/Steele was testing their new car and doing a photo shoot for Madison Avenue. A television commercial that involved the whole crew and drivers was taking place over in the paddock area near their hauler.

Jake ran his hand over the svelte lines of his new racecar. This was his best one yet, but he thought that every time, that’s the way it should be isn’t it? Try to improve? Well, she would sure have her work cut out to improve over his last racecar, Destiny they called her. Three first place wins in three races.

“It’s a beautiful car, Jake.”

Startled from his concentration Jake was surprised to see Sandy standing so near. Jake looked up at her and paused for a moment watching the way the wind slightly blew up a wisp of Sandy’s hair, she was combing it different or something… “Yes, she is beautiful, thank you.” Jake went back to his walk around.

“She?” Sandy asked, wistfully.

“Yes, she, I always…I guess most men refer to their cars as she or her…because we love them so, I suppose…” Explaining what needed no explanation, not to Sandy.

“Is that why?” Sandy asked in a slightly husky voice.

Jake suddenly felt drawn to Sandy. Jake moved away pretending to focus on some detail, “Yeah or maybe because they can be so cruel,” Jake answers with a matter of fact type tone.

“Has someone been cruel to you, Jake?” Sandy moved around near to Jake.

“Oh, yeah, one time I wrecked so fast, end over end…”

Sandy cuts in placing her hand on his shoulder, “I mean a woman Jake, has a woman been cruel or hurt you?” Sandy’s breast rubbed slightly against Jake’s side.

Jake moved away looking at something on the car, “No, no, I just was meaning…Oh, I don’t know why I refer to her as she…”

Sandy smiled, toying with Jake, “Her? Is she hard to handle, Jake?”

“The car…no, she’s easy to drive, smooth, but she is fast, let me tell you.”

“Could I drive her?” Sandy asked anticipating a lengthy sermon on why the inexperienced can’t drive racecars. Jake always had surprised her and he did so again.

“I think you could do anything, Sandy.”

Sandy stood stationary unsure of what just happened. “You mean you would let me drive her?”

Jake is smiling now, “Sure.”

“Now?” Sandy sounds excited.

“Well, yes, why not now?”

Sandy jumps in the air and runs over, throws both arms around Jake and kisses him full on the mouth. The kiss lingers for only a moment, then Sandy squeals out a shout then says, “I’m going to go get into my driver’s uniform!” Sandy runs off toward their old bus.

Jake watches her run away remembering the feel of her body against him, the taste of her kiss then the thought suddenly entered his mind, “Sandy has a driver’s uniform?”

“OK, now if this light comes on pit immediately, don’t touch this switch, this light indicates its time to shift, don’t go past this mark, just take it easy, don’t…” Jake was indoctrinating Sandy with the racecar controls.

“Jake…I’ve got it, ok?”

Jake looked at her all strapped into his creation, in her matching team driving uniform, she even had a matching helmet with radio connections all the same as Joe and Reese had.

“Ok, Sandy.” Jake’s tone was resigned to accept whatever destiny had in store.

Reese and Joe had gathered behind him with worried looks. Jake started to shut the door when he leaned in, touched a kiss to his hand and touched Sandy’s visor, “Oh, and Sandy.”

“Yes, Jake?”

“Stand On It!” Jake smiled, his eyes twinkling.

Sandy forgot the anticipation of speed for a moment, lost in those twinkling green eyes. Then Jake latched the door, Sandy fired it up and drove it away, burning rubber.

Joe and Reese jerked their heads over in unison, then back to Jake with a look of nervous apprehension.

“I sure hope you know what you’re doing, Jake.” Joe sounded almost scolding.

Jake was watching the car, now entering the track, already moving fast.

“Yeah, but more important…let’s hope that she does!” Reese added.

“Sandy will do just fine,” Jake turned at the familiar voice to find Steele and Suzanne standing behind him. Steele had spoken to reassure his partner.

Jake looked his partner over and he looked good, sporting a patch now and he was using a cane temporarily as he still had some pain walking, but his color was back and Jake felt good to have him back. “I’m glad you’re here, Steele, too much loafing can ruin a man.”

Steele smiled at the gentle chiding. “Well, I decided I had better, you letting our team go to crap and all. Why didn’t we get a track record at Sears?”

Jake smiled, yes it was good having Steele around, “I tell you Steele, I just don’t want to be called a show off.”

Just then the car flashed past on the way to the first turn, Steele watched the car enter, perfectly set and fast. “Speaking of showing off, I think this little lady has been practicing.”

Later, after twenty laps Steele called Sandy in. As she had performed outstanding the crew had gathered around to wish her congratulations.

Jake opened the cockpit and Sandy just set there still strapped in, she opened her visor and she had tears in her eyes. Jake and everyone else were telling her how terrific she had driven the car.

Sandy reached her gloved hand out for Jake’s, who clasped her hand tightly in his, “Jake, I feel like I have come home to a place I belong, but have never been to before.”

Jake thought he had never seen a more beautiful sight in his life, than Sandy, at this moment. “Yes, well you really did good, very talented…”

Sandy held his hand even tighter, “No Jake, not the driving or the team or the speed…what I mean is this moment being here with you.”

Jake stared into her eyes, and then began helping her un-strap and get out of the racecar. Jake turned away looking into the sky over the score tower, did that Texas sky look that blue before? Jake didn’t think it ever had.
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