Racing Angels -chp 9

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Chapter 9
Graduations, and travel plans.
For the next five weeks my schedule long with that of the teams stilled into a relative calm. Monday through Friday we had classes for the first three hours of the day. Then it was off to MRDI’s gym for a two-hour torture session with Coach Hall. This was then followed by seven hours on the back lot of MRDI doing pit drills. Needless to say, the days were long and filled with hard work.

On the weekends the pit crews would spend three hours in the gym while Coach Hall had me and Beth working on stamina drills. It was during the fifth week that the last of the passports arrived. I smiled as my pit crews looked at those little books in awe. There in their hands was a dream come true. They really were going to be traveling the world. They would see 21 different countries in one year. Granted there wouldn’t a lot of time for sight seeing they all knew this, but just the idea of traveling to all those countries excited my friends.

Two weeks before the first race I went into the school’s main office on Friday and informed Mr. Corely of the teams travel plans. He just sat behind his desk and started typing. A few minutes later he looked up at me. “All of the teachers have been notified Bobbie. The lesson plans will be on-line by Monday. When will you and your teams be leaving? If I may know?”

“We leve for Melbourne on the fifteenth, sir. From there on out I will be busy as all get out. I won’t be the only one with a busy schedule either. You might want to just go ahead and setup our class schedules to be emailed to us for the rest of the year. Because on Thursday Beth and I fly into the racetrack and spend some time with the team, checking that the cars are OK and working out strategy for the weekend. We got our first press conference that afternoon, after that we’re signing autographs for the many autograph hunters. That evening, we’re supposed to take part in a sponsor function dinner, hopefully escaping at around 10 p.m.”

I really got into the way the world of auto racing was for drivers. I’ve been wanting to lay into one of the teachers that think it is nothing more than doing laps on a track. “Our first practice starts very early on Friday morning, especially since we’re a new team and our Crew Chiefs have signed up for the extra two-hour test session. I’m supposed to be at the track by 8 a.m. after spending an hour in the hotel gym and do a run through the day’s program with the team. The rest of the day is practice and technical debriefs, while the team evaluates the set-up of the car and its performance. Afterward, we got even more press conferences. During all these other responsibilities, we got to complete the first qualifying round, which decides the running order for Saturday’s main qualifying session. That evening we got another sponsor function, which can and probably will run late.”

By now I had a full head of steam and was on a roll. “Saturday is two practice sessions in the morning and then a warm-up before we actually qualify our cars. We got to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect with our cars because we only have the one lap to get one time in if we make a mistake and spin off the track or we suffer a mechanical problem we could find our asses starting right at the back of the grid. If qualifying goes well and our time puts us in one of the top three positions, there is a special press conference, broadcast all around the world. After this press conference we must attend more debriefs with the team and then even more press conferences. We got a stupid evening function planned for us on Saturday night, that we must attend, as well, although it shouldn’t run too late because Sunday is race day and we need our sleep.”

I looked at my very stunned Principle. The more I told him about a Formula 1 Drivers week the more the man stared at me as if I had grown a second head. “Race day is by far the most important, and busiest, day of the week. In the past, drivers could just turn up a few minutes before the race started, jump in their cars, and then head off home as soon as the checkered flag came out, that’s no longer the case. The day often involves everything from warming up and meeting sponsors to race day parades and post-race functions. And if a driver can’t get a helicopter into the circuit he could find himself having to get up even earlier to beat the traffic jams caused by the fans.”

“My God Bobbie! How on earth are you going to handle all that?”

I just chuckled. “If am lucky I’ll wake up in my own bed on Monday morning. Even though I’ll be tired and maybe a bit sore from the race, I still have to go to the gym for a few hours to make sure I stay in shape. Monday afternoon, if I haven’t been called up for a sponsor function, I’ll fly out to one of the European tracks to get ready for that week’s testing schedule. On Tuesday less than 48 hours after the Grand Prix, it’s back in the cockpit, working hard on developments and improvements for the next race. The teams will be experimenting with new parts or different set-ups to try to make the car even quicker. Testing a Formula One car is a relentless job, and the track usually stays open from 9 a.m. until darkness. After that, it’s a few hours with the team, working through a technical debrief of the test, before dinner and then maybe an interview with journalists.”

I took a deep breath and smiled as I went in for the kill. “Wednesday is another day of testing, although a I may be able to fly home in that evening to get ready for the following week’s Grand Prix. It all depends on when the next race is sometimes we get a break of a week or two between races. The big teams usually have one or two test drivers who help ease the workload on their regular drivers, because there’s no point getting their stars completely shattered before the next race. Only we don’t have those driving staff for that yet. Hopefully by the end of next month we will, but for now it’s just me and Beth.”

“What about your pit crews? It sounds as if they’ll be gone just as much as you will be.” Mr. Corely pointed out.

“They will be. If anyone ever says that racing isn’t a team sport smack them in the chops sir. I depend on those twenty members of my pit crew far more than a quarterback ever does on his Linemen. Tell the blue hairs to kiss my ass while you’re at it.” I know that I was pushing it but didn’t care. I was tired of people tell me how to run my pit crew. “Every last member of my pit crews and I have more then enough credits to graduate tomorrow morning. Trust me, I double checked.”

Corely sighed and gave me a sly smile. “Oh, I know, Bobbie. In fact, I am a little surprised that you haven’t asked for your diplomas already. If it was up to me I would just sign off on your graduations and be done with you all.”

Hearing this I gave Corely a hard look then went for broke. “Back up your mouth with actions then, sir. Sign the diplomas and pass them out today.”

The man gave me a dirty look. “You want that for your teams don’t you Bobbie? You want them all to be high school grades.”

I smirked. “With our schedule it will be the only way. Like the old saying goes. Put up or shut up. This is a no half measures situation. You say that you’re an educator first, prove it!”

I knew that I was pushing things with the man, but he had the power to put an end to the bullshit. Bullshit that me and my team had been dealing with for the last two months. He would either call my bluff or follow through. Corely looked me in the eye and started to chuckle as he typed.

“Your teams will have their diplomas by Monday. That should give them enough time to clear out their lockers. You on the other hand young lady will need to complete the year.”

“No sir. We all graduate at the same time or nothing at all. I’m sick and tired of the bullshit. I don’t have time for the political bullshit anymore. I have twenty-one races to run in the next eight months. I need to have my mind on those tracks, not some fucking paper for Government. If you think I’m kidding I want, you to think about this. The first time I lose because I’m worried about completing a paper and pile into the wall at a hundred-and-forty it will be your fault.” I was snarling by this point.

I had passed the point of caring anymore. Between the schoolboard, the district superintended, and now this asshole. My give a fuck meter was broken, it was currently stuck in ‘don’t’ and I could no longer get parts for making repairs. Corley sat there for a minute then chuckled.

“Bobbie, you’ll get what you want. I’ll have your diplomas mailed out to you all. As it is you only have six weeks left. Four of those you and your team will be traveling. I just have one condition.” I gave him the stink eye wondering what he was up to. “I want a team photo for my wall. One with all of your signatures and from each track that you go to for the first year.”

I blinked then glared. “Let me get this straight you want twenty-one signed team pictures for your wall? Is that what you’re asking for? Just so we can all get our diplomas and graduate this week.”

Corely smiled. “Yup. That or nothing.”

“That’s blackmail.” I smiled and held out my hand. “But you leave me with no choice. You have a deal sir.”

We both chuckled as we shook hands. “You know Bobbie it has been a pleasure to have you in our school. You and your pit crews.”

“I learned a lot sir. I hope that you won’t hold it against us when we don’t win our first race.” I had to be honest with the man. After all I knew the chances of win our first race were sky high to outer limits.

“Bobbie, I would be highly surprised if you didn’t win. I’ve heard of your skills behind the wheel. You’re just too damned good.” He pulled out a hall pass and signed it. “That’ll get you into your first class. By the way why didn’t you try to negotiate with me?”

“Are you kidding sir? I know when I’m getting a deal.” I flashed him a smile and turned for the door. “Just out of curiosity. What would you have settled for?”

“I would have accepted four pictures. One form the following tracks. Albert Park in Milbourn, Silverstone in Britain, Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg in Germany, and Circuit of The Americas in my hometown of Austin, Texas.” I knew why he had a love for Formula 1. The Circuit of The Americas is a grade 1 FIA specification 3.427-mile motor racing facility located in Austin, Texas. It may not have the history of the other tracks, but it is an American track and that was all that mattered to Mr. Corely.

The Europeans may claim that auto racing was born in their countries, but the true heart of the sport lay in the US. From February through November you can find Americans filling the stands of race tracks of all types Friday through Sunday. All to see men and women pit themselves against each other and the track in a desperate pursuit of the need for speed.

“That kind of explains why you’ve been so supportive of the pit crews Mr. Corely. You only named off three of the oldest tracks and the newest. I take it that you have followed the sport for a while now?” I had to know the rest of the story.

To my surprise he pulled out a photo album. “You could say that Bobbie. This is a copy of one of my greatest treasures. It is also one of my greatest secrets. One that I hope you’ll keep. Every picture in this album is from one of the great Formula One tracks in the world. I was the son of a United States Ambassador at large. I must have seen sixty different countries before I was seventeen.” He started to chuckle. “The one thing I was never able to get was a signed team picture. Those things were always sold out before I got there. I get one of you and your sister. Shit. I’ll be the talk of the district, if not the state. Before you even point to the Jeff Gordon, Jimmy Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt pictures I’ll let you in on a little secret. My family is good friends with Rick Hendrick and his family. Just one of the perks.”

I just chuckled. Then in my best cartoon superhero’s voice I call out. “Finally, he shows the true deviousness of his plan. You’ll not get away this Dark Principle. I know your plan now. Your blackmail scheme will fail. I’ll drag you into the light and expose you to the world as the Master Educator that you are.”

I had to give it to Mr. Corely. He jumped right in with a snappy comeback. “Drat! Foiled again! I’ll win one of these days, Racer!”

We both stood there laughing before Mr. Corely waved for me to get to class. I just smiled and waved then headed for class. Today would be my last day. Along with the pit crews’ last day. It didn’t take long for word to spread through out the school about the pit crews’ early graduation. I was in my last class of the day when Corely came over the loudspeakers requesting me and the pit crews to come to the auditorium. As we all walked into the auditorium I spotted State District Superintendent Doctor Mark Samuels and Principle Corely standing in the center of the stage.

Samuels waved for us to sit down in the front rows of seats. He waited for us to take our seats then picked up a piece of paper. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is not often that our schools can boast of such an accomplishment as we are about to today. Forty-three students all approved for early graduation. The truth of the matter is this school system has never had this many early graduates at one time. When your Principle called and informed me that you all wanted to graduate this week let’s just say I was floored. I spent the next hour and a half researching each one of you. Only to find that all of you not only have enough credits to graduate but could have done so at the midterm.”

Samuels looked over each of us one at a time. Until he got to me. “I was more than a little surprised when none of you were offered the chance at early graduation. From what your current Principle has been able to explain your local District Superintendent and Schoolboard have been using you young people as political pawns. Let me be perfectly clear here ladies and gentlemen. Those days are over with. I will not have the students placed in our care used in such a manner.”

I wanted to jump and shout at the top of my lungs but was beaten to the punch by Kelly. “It’s about time you took care of the problem. Those ass hats downtown have been letting too much shit get out of hand around here.”

“Miss. Ringwald, please calm down. That is one of the many reasons why I am here today. I made the trip from Columbia so that I can personally hand out your diplomas. That is the reason why I have asked for you all to be here.” Samuels picked up a stack of papers. “In my hands are those very diplomas. As I call out your names please step forward and receive yours.”

I held up my hand. “Sir, wouldn’t it be better if our parents were present to see this?”

“Miss. McGuire, if you can arrange that on such a short notice I am more than willing to hold off.” I knew that Samuels thought he had me. I just smiled and pulled out my phone.

I heard my pit crew start to laugh as Sherry Howe busted his bubble. “You shouldn’t have given our driver that easy of a challenge Doctor Samuels. She arranged for every parent and member of her pit crews to sign contracts with Mercedes-Benz in less than an hour. I hope you can hold up you end?”

“Young lady if Miss. McGuire can pull off that kind of magic. Then I can do no less on my part. And before you ask the local Superintendent, Doctor Stone has been placed on unpaid leave. Over the past few weeks, with the help of Mr. Corely, this district’s Superintendent, members of the schoolboard, and certain teachers have been under investigation. Please keep this information to yourselves as the investigation is still on going.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I knew that something was up after the way Mr. Corely treated me this morning but not this.

My phone rang before I or anyone else could say anything about this revelation. “Mom, can you get a hold of all the parents for the pit crews?” I waited as mom told me she could and asked why. “The State Superintendent is here, and he is going to pass out our diplomas today. Think we can use the garage for this? Sure, I can get him there. If he doesn’t wait to come willingly I’ll just flatten the tires on his car and Shanghai his ass. Be there in half an hour.”

I hung up my phone and smiled up at Samuels and Corely. “Well gentlemen, care to go for a ride?”

“I hate to tell you this, Doctor Samuels, no on second thought, no I don’t. I told you not to underestimate the students of this school. Especially Roberta McGuire. The young lady thinks faster than you can blink.” Mr. Corely cracked.

I just had to correct him just a little. “You’re wrong, Mr. Corely. I don’t think faster than you can blink. I think and react at over one-hundred miles per hour plus. When I’m out there on the track I don’t have time to think over every choice. I got to make my decisions fast and deal with them. Usually at over a hundred miles an hour in a hair pin turn.”

“No shit, Bobbie. We’ve all said it before and we’ll say it again. You and Beth are batshit crazy.” Cathy popped off. Which got the rest of the pit crew laughing at the inside joke. “One of these days, they’re going to scrape you off of a turn wall.”

“Not going to happen Cathy. They’ll lock her up before it gets that bad.” Kelly snarked then leaned over and kissed my cheek.

Doctor Samuels cleared his throat at the way the discussion was going and Kelly’s sudden display of affection. “Well, as much as I would love to let you all continue on like this. I do believe that it would be best to head over to Miss. McGuire’s family garage. I truly want to hand out these well-earned diplomas.”

“Then follow us to the land of OZ sir, or as we like to call it. McGuire Race Design International our second home.” Danny Hailee said as he got up and led the way out of the auditorium.

Cassy, Sherry, Charlotte, and Kelly all rode with me over to the garage. There was one thing that I noticed over the past few weeks about the girls on the pit crews. Even Beth had taken to copying my style. They had started to emulate either mine or Beth’s current styles. They in turn were being emulated by the other girls in school. Needless to say, there were more and more equestrian attired girls in our school.

As we rode towards the garage the three cheerleaders and my girlfriend were working their phones. I don’t know what they were up to whatever it is, it must be important. Because by the time we got to the garage they were all giggling. I parked over by the mobile locker rooms like Kelly wanted me to. As I climbed out, I helped the others in the back seat out, I noticed that the girls were heading for the locker rooms. No, knowing what was up, I followed them inside. I was ordered to change into my leathers and hurry.

I saw that all of the girls were changing into their race leathers. I didn’t need a Mac truck to hit to figure out what was going on. They had been talking with the guys and arranged to graduate in their race leathers. It didn’t take long for me to change into my new leathers supplied by Mercedes-Benz. Both teams walked out of the locker rooms in their new purple team leathers with the Mercedes-Benz logo embroidered in silver on the back.

As we entered the garage proper there parking lot was rapidly filling up with the cars of parents. Off to one side there was four of the local vulture carriers. Sorry, I should use the politically correct terms for them now that I will be a target for their attentions, News Vans. I smiled at the sight of everyone’s parents showing up on short a short notice. Doctor Samuels was standing with my parents when we walked in. Doctor Samuels looked over at me the team in our leathers. I saw a smiled breakout on his face as he excused himself and walked over to me.

“Miss. McGuire, I must say that you have truly surprised me. This is one time I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.” Samuels looked over the teams in our uniforms. “I must say that the team leathers are a nice touch.”

“Thank you, sir. We’re kind of proud of our teams here at MRDI.” Said Chief Hailee with a lot of pride. “These young ladies and gentlemen have shown what hard work and dedication can do.”

“I quite agree sir. They are role models for their generation. I cannot wait to see them perform on the world’s stage of Formula One Racing. I understand that Miss. McGuire owns the unofficial track record for Darlington. If she can do something like that on the Lady in Black, then she’ll own the Formula tracks.” Samuels most not have an understanding of F1 tracks.

Thankfully Chief Hailee set him straight. “Doctor Samuels, it is one thing to take on the Lady. And another to take on Street, Road, or Race course in Formula One. ALL of our races are Road course races with more twists and turns than a drunken cottonmouth. With Darlington you race the track, or she’ll eat you alive. With Formula One tracks they’ll reach out and bight you in the ass the first time you disrespect them. You just cannot compare the two vastly different styles of racing.”

“I see your point sir. I never really thought about it along those lines. While each track holds similarities to the others, there are always subtle differences that separate them apart from the others. How do you deal with the different track conditions?” Samuels asked Chief Hailee in wonder.

“With great care and planning, sir.” I answered. “It takes a certain type of driver and Crew Chief to deal with challenges that are presented with each track.”

“Excuse me, people, but as fascinating as this discussion is, we have a ceremony to conduct. We also have get the teams and their cars to Columbia.” At the confused look from Samuels Chief Marks sighed and explained how a F1 racer got moved from race to race. “Once we have the cars stripped down to their last component. The engines, and gearboxes are removed, along with the front and rear wings, mirrors and suspension parts. Each is placed within its own foam-slotted box. We also use custom-fitted foam and an anvil-tough and good old fashion humble but steadfast bubble wrap. It’s especially good for protecting painted surfaces, which is a prime concern because no one wants to see that glorious silvery-chrome paint or a sponsor's logo scuffed. The chassis is protected by its own custom-made cover and placed within its own case.”

“That doesn’t even take in to account the other several dozen tons of equipment to be packed and shipped. Each team carries enough spare parts to rebuild their cars, forty sets of tires, two-thousand-five-hundred litres of fuel, two-hundred litres of motor oil and ninety litres of coolant. And then there are the tools. And the computers. And enough food to make as many as two-hundred meals, plus all the stuff needed to prepare those meals. And... and... oh hell the list goes on. All told, the biggest teams may be hauling as much as fifty-tons of gear, and even the smallest outfits like ours are schlepping around thirty-tons of stuff.” Then I started to chuckle. “I’m just happy that the guys from DHL showed up yesterday to help pack everything.”

“I must say I never realized the sheer magnitude of Formula One. I never realized it was so many things, an elaborate show, an engineering extravaganza and above all a logistical nightmare.” Samuels just shook his head in wonder. “How will you transport the cars and such around Europe?”

“Well, for the European rounds of the championship most of a team's equipment will travel by road, sir. In the liveried articulated lorries so familiar from race paddocks across the continent. All of the race equipment required for the weekend will be loaded in these, cars, spare parts, and tools. Tires, fuel and certain other equipment are brought separately by technical partners and local contractors.” I wanted to kiss my mom as she walked up answering that question. “Doctor Samuels, if you’ll follow me we have setup an area where you can hand out those diplomas. We really do need to get a move on.”

“Of course, Mrs. McGuire. I sorry for letting my curiosity get the better of me. I just never truly realized the complexity of transporting a Formula One team around the world.” I smirked as mom led the State Superintendent of Schools around by his nose.

I joined my pit crews in the garage area. We all stood in a tight group in the center of the main area. Our parents took up positions around the outer edge as Samuels stepped up to the table that mom and the employees of MRDI had set up for his use. I watched as race fan was put aside for the Statesman. The vultures were all along the back wall with their camera men.

As much as I would love to run those people over with my car I know that they will be part of my life from now on. Especially if I should start winning races like Mercedes-Benz is hoping I will. I do good on back roads and the Lady, but I still wonder if I’m I good enough to compete on a Formula 1 circuit. I let my mind go as I think about all that has to be done yet today.

First off, I got to finish packing the gear for our first race. I know that this is supposed to be the pit crews’ job but those are my cars. It’s my ass on the line once that car hits the track. I can bet your ass that I’ll double check everything is packed. After that I got to get my bags for the trip. Get to bed early and get up early for the drive over to Columbia. DHL may be flying our equipment and cars out on their cargo carriers, but we get to travel in a USAir Airbus A-320 from Columbia to Los Angles International. From LAX to Melbourne it’s all Boeing-747 with a hour layover in Hawaii. I was so lost in my thoughts about the flight on Saturday and the upcoming race I didn’t hear my name.

Thank God, Kelly shoved me from behind. I quickly tossed her a death glare over my shoulder as I walked forward to receive my diploma. I had totally tuned out Doctor Samuels little speech before he started calling names. I proudly shook his hand as he handed me that piece of scrap paper. That was all it was to me really. I already had my diplomas in my wallet. Those pieces of paper that said I could drive on any track in the world. In two weeks, I would have my real graduation. The day I strapped my ass into the cockpit of my car and went for my first test lap in Melbourne. A track that was as mean as they come.

I let the specs for that track fill my mind as the rest of the team receive their individual diploma. The Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit is a street circuit around Albert Park Lake, only a few kilometers south of central Melbourne. It is used annually as a racetrack for the Formula One Australian Grand Prix, Supercars Championship Melbourne 400 and associated support races.

The circuit uses everyday sections of road that circle Albert Park Lake, a small man-altered lake just south of the Central Business District of Melbourne. The road sections that are used were rebuilt prior to the inaugural event in 1996 to ensure consistency and smoothness. As a result, compared to other circuits that are held on public roads, the Albert Park track has quite a smooth surface. Before 2007 there existed only a few other places on the Formula 1 calendar with a body of water close to the track. Many of the new tracks, such as Valencia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi have imitated that feature.

The course is fast and relatively easy to drive, drivers have even been heard to comment that the consistent placement of corners allows them to easily learn the circuit and achieve competitive times. The flat terrain around the lake, coupled with a track design that features few true straights, means that the track is not conducive to overtaking a competitor outside of the pit area.

I let the specs for the track race through my mind. I can see all sixteen turns. A single lap length is 5.303km (3.295 miles). Total number of race laps is 58. Race distance is 307.574km (191.118 miles). Pole position is on the left-hand side of the track. Lap record* is 1’24.125 (226.934 kph) by Michael Schumacher, 2004. Fastest lap is 1’23.529 (228.553 kph) by Sebastian Vettel, 2011. Maximum speed 312kph (193.868 mph). DRS zone/s (race) First and second straight. Distance from grid to turn one 380m.

I start going over car’s performance for the race next. A full throttle is going to be at best 61%. The longest flat-out section is only 843 meters. Downforce levels are going to be fucking high. I need to restrict my fuel usage 1.66kg per lap. The time penalty per lap of fuel should be around 0.051s. More than that and I’m screwed big time. Albert Park may be a Sunday drive in the eyes of the spectators, but it is a holly nightmare for the drivers.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the graduating Class of 2018.” I was brought back to the here and now by Samuels words. I started to shout and hoot right along with my friends and team mates. When we quieted down Samuels waved for me to come up to the front with him. “As most of you know it was this remarkable young lady that put together these two amazing Formula One teams. I think it is befitting that she say a few words.”

He stepped off to one side clapping his hands as I thought long and hard about grabbing a torque wrench or cheater bar with which to brain him. “Thank you, Doctor Samuels for time today to handle such a very unique event in our school. All I can say is the members of the MRDI pit crews earned those diplomas. Both through hard work and with constant studying. We don’t cheat, well not off the track we don’t, and you can’t prove that we do on the track.”

The joke about cheating got everyone laughing as they all knew that my favorite saying revolves around cheating. ‘If you ain’t cheating, you’re trying hard enough to win.’ They all knew that I won’t outright cheat, put I had no problems with trying to skew the odds in my favor by bending the fuck out of the rules.

“Excuse me, Miss. McGuire. Is it true that you have a criminal record?” One of the vultures from the back of the room shouted. Before I could say anything, they were shouting another question one that really pissed me off. It wasn’t the only one either. “Is it true that you’re really a pre-operative tranny?”

Everyone in the room turned to look at the man. As I just stared at the fucker with raging hate in my eyes. This time I did pick up a cheater bar as I walked around the table towards the man. The rest of the mechanics in the shop descended on the reporters like a plague of locusts. None of these people were leaving here in one piece. Especially that first fuck head.

“Hey back off buddy! Or I’ll sue the shit out of you and this company.” The reporter snarked not seeing the rage in my father’s eyes. Dad was well passed the point of caring. “Besides the public has a right to know what kind of deviant freak they got representing them on the world stage.”

The moment I heard those words I knew exactly who had tipped this fuck wade off about me. I just need confirmation. I grabbed him by his balls before he knew what was happening and squeezed. “Who told you that asshole? Talk before I stuff your balls in a vice.”

“I… got… rights. You… ugh… can’t… ugh… do… ugh… this… to… me.” I squeezed a little hard with each word the man said.

“That is where you’re wrong fuck stick. You see in this garage we respect each other. Around here respect is earned, and you just pissed all your goodwill out the window. Now. Let me ask this one more time before I turn you over to my pit crew.” I jerked my thumb over my shoulder at the gathered teens. He was either going to give the information I wanted, or they were going to drag it out of his sorry ass. I looked over at the other three reporters. “Let this be a very valuable lesson people. You coming pissing in the waters of MRDI. You just might get your dick bitten off by the gators that swim in these waters.”
I squeezed the dipshit’s nuts harder and he screamed. I let up just a little. He began talking. “It was Mrs. Eloise Carson. Alright? Carson told me that you’re really a boy in drag and that you’re in a homosexual relationship with some boy from BSHS.”

I let off the pressure just a little bit more as I started to laugh. “I hope you have a good bank account fuckhead. Because if you report one word of what that woman told you. You will be paying for the new paint job on my car. Oh, and they aren’t cheap. Somewhere around two and half million to three million per paint job. Not only will I take you to the cleaners, but I will be taking your Station or paper with you. The information that Mrs. Eloise Carson disclosed to you is ALL highly classified under medical records. Do you know what that means? It means you open your mouth and you go to fucking jail while I clean out your bank account.”

I let the threat sink in as I let go of his balls. “Now get the fuck out of this garage before I let my pit crew kill your ass.”

The man ran as fast as his legs would carry him. He left without his video equipment and recordings. The Four Horsemen relieved him of those before he got too far. The other reporters got the hint that there were certain things that where off limits if they wanted to continue breathing. The two pit crews and garage full of mechanics drove the point home. I walked back towards the front but stopped and looked over at the other reporters.

“Let me be perfectly clear for you ladies and gentlemen of the press. I drive a car at more than a hundred miles an hour. I take turns in excess of fifty miles per hour sliding all the way round a ninety-degree hairpin. I face death on the race tracks of the world or here in our own backyard on my own terms. You pack of vultures will not dictate how I will live my life. Nor will I allow you to presume that you have the right to invade my privacy. You do that, and I will come for you. One way or the other. Your ass will belong to me. I faced down death at the tender age of fourteen from cancer. You can do nothing to me but piss me off.” I was still pissed off the cars were already broke down for loading. I looked at mine and Beth’s pit crews. “We got three hours to get this shit on the trucks and heading for Columbia people. Let’s see some assholes and elbows. Chief Hailee, Chief Marks, you want to get these vultures the fuck out of our garage?”

I don’t know what it was, but people started busting their asses to finish packing up our gear for the race. As the guys in the garage got to work showing my pit crews what needed to be done. Hailee, Marks, the fathers of the pit crew, and my dad turned to escort the reporters from the garage. Mom walked over to me and wrapped me in a tight hug. She whispered in my ear as she held me. I know that it was meant to calm me down. And it was working.

“Remember turn one has a downward inside curve.” Mom was going over the exact specs for the Albert Park Raceway. I don’t know where she got the specs, but she had them cold. She had too, to be that exact in her description of the race track. When she started to question me about how I could expect the car to perform I gave her everything I could remember. I forget when we first started to do this, but whenever I need to calm down mom would pick a race track at random. After giving me a rundown on how to drive the course she would question me on how I should expect the car to handle. When and where to push the car to the limits and when to hold back and look for the opening.

“Mom, when did we first start doing this? I mean talking about the tracks and how the car reacts.” I couldn’t remember and that worried me. It was such an important part of my life.

“Bobbie, we started walking the tracks and feeling out the cars when you were only nine years old. You hated thunderstorms so much and I tried everything to distract you. Then one night you were playing on your Xbox when a thunderstorm came through. You had the F1 racing game in your Xbox three-sixty. Well you got mad when you spun out on a corner and screamed that in real life the car won’t have reacted that way. I had to correct you and said it would. You being the hardheaded child of your father just had to have proof. I described the corner and you pointed out that the performance of the car won’t have been that far off as to force a spin out that late in the race. We spent the next three hours going over every turn of that track and you broke down how you would attack each one. I was amazed. Ever since then it has been our little secret for calming you down when you become upset or stressed. Now go help out your team. They need to see that you got your act together, honey.” With that mom pushed me towards where the pit crews were finishing up with the packing.

Dad walked up to mom once I was out of the way. “The fire in her soul will either burn her out or drive her to a championship.”

“Robert, there are times when I think that you missed the line for brains. OUR youngest daughter has far too much control to let that fire burn her out and is too damned disciplined to be anything other than a champion. Mark my words she’ll make us proud.”

“I don’t know about you love. But she already did three times with me. The day she was born and the day she refused to give up and die.” Dad turned and walked back towards the new Stock car he was working on for Denny.

“When was the last time, Robert?” mom asked him.

“The day she earned her ride with Mercedes-Benz.”

-----tbc-----



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