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Chapter 40

The winter chill was in the night breeze that softly rustled the fallen leaves. Jake sat on his porch holding his friend, Charlie in his lap. His hand ran across the wood grain on his old bench. Jake remembered building that bench…from an old shipping crate that he had laying around his race shop. His little joke was to tell everyone it was imported wood. Jake grinned to himself as he remembered.

Looking across his field to the ‘Corkscrew’ parking lot, he could see that it would be a slow night, tonight. Well, he thought, the lean slow times make the good times, when they come, that much better.

Much had happened with the team since the season ended. Stoudenmire had wiggled out of their agreement and had left racing for good.

Madison Avenue had not only stepped up and fulfilled their agreement, but had signed on as an associate sponsor for the Formula One effort as well, this working out with their international expansion.

Sandy was no longer driving for team Rhoad/Steele, but it was a decision she had made due to increased demands on her time with the business.

At meetings, Sandy was always cordial, but everything between them was on a business level now, although Jake reflected, he still considered her his friend.

Jessica still saw Jake socially, occasionally, but Jake was happy keeping their relationship as it was and really didn’t see himself ever having a typical relationship, which would eventually lead to marriage, but who really ever knows.

For now, Jessica and Reese’s primary concerns were their upcoming debut into Formula One and they were excited!

Jake thought about all that had happened, setting there on his porch in the twilight, scratching Charlie’s head, smiling at some thoughts, grimacing at others, recalling the feel of Amelia’s body pressed against his, as they danced, the roar of the engine as he blasted through the Mexican Desert, “Yes, Charlie this is an exciting life we live,” Jake spoke aloud to his friend.

Joe Savage had poured himself into his new dual position, driver and manager. Steele and Jake had worked out a percentage partnership that made Joe a very wealthy man and he was worth every cent of it.

Joe’s first job was to find a replacement for Sandy. Steele asked him how he planned on selecting a driver and Joe answered, “That’s easy, I’ll just find someone that’s faster than I am, that has those hungry eyes.”

The new Formula cars were fast, but not fast enough, as their testing times at tracks where Formula One cars had raced showed them to be about mid-pack right out of the shop, but Jake already was working on some improvements.

Charlie jumped down and went to the screen door wanting in.

“Cold Fella?” Jake rose up to go inside, “Yeah, it can get cold out here, but that makes me appreciate the warmth.” Jake let Charlie in, and then hearing something he turned to look into the night. The wind whispered through the pine needles. Jake stood listening for a moment, and then turned and walked on in.

The east Texas woods were dark, but for one window of light where Jake worked at his computer on an idea that would make his racecars faster, ever faster.

At a dingy garage deep in the hills a skinny kid worked on an outdated old racecar, his wrench slipped cutting his knuckle and the coldness of the air made it hurt even more. “Son of a bitch,” he blurted out.

“I swear, why you work on that old rust bucket I can’t begin to understand.”

“Me, either.”

The kid receives support and encouragement from his two beer-drinking buddies.

“I’ve got to get her ready for next season.” The kid answers, the same as he had answered several times before.

“Well, we’re going to the picture show…we’ll pick us up some babes. Sure you don’t want to go with us?”

The kid slid his creeper out from under the racecar, the look in his eyes answering the question.

“Ok, but this hunk of junk won’t ever get you nowhere!”

The kid squinted; his jaw took a firm set that matched the determined glint in his eyes, “Maybe y’all are right, maybe I’ll never get nowhere. I’ll tell you one damn thing, with this baby, I’ll be moving mighty fast when I try!”

The two guys left. The young man got out from under his racecar, wiping the grease off his hands, and then wiped a smudge from his old racecar’s body.

Looking from his racecar to a poster of team Rhoad/Steele’s road racing cars.

Turning he stared for a moment out into the night, and then picking up his wrench he crawled back under that cold car. The kid was smiling.
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