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Selected excerpts

Over 250 makes and models of automobiles came from the factories and shops in and near this one city. That city was so enamored of its auto industry that the owner of its leading newspaper and two other prominent businessmen, partnered to build the world's largest speedway there in 1906 to provide a test track for local auto manufacturers.

Less than 30 feet away, they found Clarence's son, still screaming, laying at the bottom of a bunker. The leg-hold trap, securely staked down by an attached and taut chain, had a fierce grip on Johnny's bare foot. Running as he stepped into it, the jaws of the trap had snapped closed. As he fell forward, the taut chain had pulled the closed jaws down the length of his foot, stripping bare skin down to tendons and bone.

He lay there, screaming his head off.

"Boy, shut up," Clarence commanded him. "If we gets caught out here by the Sheriff, we prob'ly gonna' get lynched."

"The Sheriff wouldn't do that," Herschel interjected.

"The hell he wouldn't," Clarence replied.

Johnny knew that resistance would be futile but he was not going to be captured. He gripped his wrench so hard, it seemed as if his fingerprints would be permanently embedded in the hardened steel. His mind was made up as the enemy was now less than 200 yards away; he would go down swinging; he would do whatever he could, with the tools available to him, to stop them.

But he didn't have to: suddenly the sound of their gunfire was stopped and replaced by another sound, different and alien. At first this new sound was like a calm, distant drone, slowly rising in frequency until it became a banshee scream.

The precise and controlled movement of the advancing Germans was suddenly replaced by pandemonium...

The seasonal warming and the April showers really had given way to the flowers of May. Yellow daffodils swayed gently in the light breeze. The sun was shining, the birds were singing...or at least, one had to assume they were; you couldn't hear them.

The bucolic, early morning tranquility of the farm near Brownsburg was mercilessly shattered by the thunderous roar of 10,000 un-muffled gasoline explosions per minute as Herschel slid his race car around the loose dirt turns of the improvised 1/2 mile practice track that formed the perimeter of Wendell Wattle's corn field.

Politics makes strange bedfellows,” Sheriff replied, “in case you haven’t heard. It’s like I said, some of the members at the club build cars and some of them are pretty well connected politically. Them that’s well connected politically have an image problem.”

“That’s hard to believe,” Herschel said sarcastically. “Just because they’re in the Klan?”

Sheriff chose not to reply. “In any event,” he continued, “they come to the conclusion that they could overcome some of their image problem if they was to sponsor a Negro racer.”

“Then why didn’t they sponsor a race car driver? That guy you’re with ain’t never drove at any races I’ve seen. According to my partner, he’s a collector for whoever’s runnin’ the numbers racket down on the Avenue.”

“Yes, well (ahem)," Sheriff began, “some of them are pretty well connected too.”

As they were nearing Sheriff’s car’s parking area, Sheriff said no more; He simply turned, thanked Herschel for the Cokes and rejoined his team. Herschel continued walking back towards his own parking area, surprised to see Johnny walking in the same direction about 20 paces in front of him. When he arrived beside their car, Johnny was already there, waiting for him.

Herschel handed Johnny a Coke and Johnny asked him, a vitriolic tone in his voice, “So what’d that son of a bitch have to say?”

Herschel remembered back to the first night he and Johnny had met as boys and Johnny’s dad’s accusation that Sheriff was in the Klan. The old accusation was accurate, he now knew. “Well, he said some of his politically-connected friends were sponsoring that car and a Negro driver as a public relations effort.”

“Bullshit,” Johnny replied. “First off, his politically connected friends ain’t necessarily Democrats or Republicans; they’s Klansmen, pure and simple.”

“How do you know that?”

“While you was talkin’ to the Sheriff, I was talkin’ to Phinneas, their “driver.” That public relations thing is nothin’ but bullshit so their sponsors don’t look as bad as normal. He tol’ me what he’s really ‘sposed to be doin’ at the wheel of their race car; just like always, he’s ‘sposed to be bustin’ some heads.”


With a grim expression on his face, Johnny gave Herschel a one-word answer: “Yours.”

...Herschel nailed the throttle. eating up the distance between the two cars, but sending the rear of the Gulley Special sliding out.

Counter-steering and playing the gas pedal, Herschel had already pre-mapped his pass in his mind; he would fake passing on the outside and--when Phinneas attempted to block him--he would reposition himself to the inside of the track and sail past.

Phinneas, however, had already mapped out his plan for the corner...