Treachery at the Track

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
On the day of a big race, one of the racer's car is tampered with and it causes an accident. Who is responsible?

Submitted: March 10, 2015

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Submitted: March 10, 2015

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Treachery at the Track

By: Victoria Saylor

 

“Don’t forget! Next week is a big one for the Charger division,” exclaims the announcer from Leesville County Speedway. “Come join us for the 100-lapper with a $5,000 prize to the winner! We will also have parking lot drags and a penny rush for the children! Be sure to come out! I hope everyone has a good night and drive safe!”

Fans begin to clear out of the grandstands toward their cars. In the pit area, Mark is getting ready to drive his car into his enclosed trailer while Kelly, his wife, is cleaning up the tools. She realizes that she forgot to return a jack to another racer.

“I’ll be right back. I have to take the jack back to Chuck.” Kelly makes her way to a few cars down to find Chuck. When she gets there, she overhears Briana talking to a friend of hers. Briana is the only female racer at the racetrack and is often reminded of that fact.

“All I know is that there’s no way I will win this race next week as long as Mark is also racing,” Briana tells to her friend, Frank. “The prize money would be beneficial for my life right now.” Her hours were recently cut from the nursing home that she works at, so she has been struggling with her bills.

“Why don’t you have more confidence in yourself? You’re always fighting your way to

the top. Why is this time different?”

Her voice became meek. “Why is this time different? It’s different because this is the biggest race I will have ever been in. You don’t understand the pressure on me. Not just from the race, but also from all of the other guys out there. They all expect me to fail.”

The next morning, Jesse, an unkempt, tall, and slender 47 year-old with salt and pepper hair, is busy working on the damage to his racecar from the previous night. He looks to his right to see the trophy shelf he built when he first started racing, only to be reminded that he hasn’t won anything in the past few years. The green and black number 68 racecar shows the scars of many battles. It is the car that has been with him longer than his marriage lasted. This car is his last hope to continue racing. He will stay up all night to figure out ways to win this race…

Wednesday afternoon, Logan, a 17 year-old kid who started racing after watching his dad race for years, not to mention chicks dig it, gets home from school. His father, Jack, who raced for many years and is extremely competitive, instantly tells Logan to get ready to go to the track to practice. “You’re a half hour late. Where have you been? We need to get going.”

“I’ve been with my friends. I don’t want to go to practice today,” replies Logan.

“You will being going off to college in just a couple months. There will be plenty of time to be with friends then.” Jack begins to get frustrated. “You are the one who wanted to race, so I suggest you keep with it.”

“I’m doing this to have fun and relax. Sorry that I am not as passionate about it as you are.”

“You can do whatever you want next week, but this week you need to focus on the big race. I expect to see you in the car in fifteen minutes.”

Jack and Logan drive thirty-eight minutes in silence until they get to the racetrack. When they arrive, they see Briana, Mark, and Jesse getting their cars ready to practice. Shortly after Mark finishes his practice, Jesse approaches him and starts making accusations. He claims that Mark has been cheating and demands that his car be inspected. They call the garage tech, Jeff, over to get his opinion.

Jeff walks back into the pits to see Mark and Jesse. “What do you guys need?”

Jesse argues, “I think you need to inspect Mark’s car. There is no way he can be legal.”

With a smirk appearing on his face, “Why would I feel the need to cheat when I am a natural?” Jesse stands there flabbergasted. “Right, that’s what I thought. So I suggest you go back to your own car now.”

After the heated exchange, Jesse went out to take his turn at practice. While his car was running decently, it was not up to the standards that Mark’s car was, which heightened his anger. Briana and Logan took their turn on the track and were both satisfied with the way their cars were performing.

Later that night, Mark and Kelly are at home talking about the race on Saturday. Mark brings up the idea of children. “I think we are at the point in our lives to start a family. The money from the race would be very helpful.”

Kelly is delighted to hear how excited Mark is about their future.

Saturday arrives bright and sunny. Racers from all divisions start making their way into the pits around noon to prepare for hot laps. Mark parks his truck and trailer in his usual spot at the far right corner by the woods. As he is unloading the car, Briana pulls into the spot next to him. She has Frank with her and he helps get her car ready for practice.

The announcer calls over the loudspeaker, “All modifieds line up for hot laps and chargers line up at the tech garage for inspections.”

Mark pulls into the garage and waits patiently as Jeff completes the inspection. “Mark, you are good to go,” Jeff shouts. Jesse feels like a fool after hearing that Mark’s car is by the books. The remaining racers go through inspection and come out clean.

The modified and street stock divisions finish qualifying and now the chargers are up. Jesse is the first one out and qualifies with a time of 19.03 seconds. Next, Mark qualifies with a time of 18.52 seconds. Briana and Logan qualify with a time of 19.41 and 19.20 seconds respectively. The rest of the drivers finished qualifying to set up the starting grid for the races. After the chargers are done with heat races, Mark and Kelly sit in the stands to watch their friend, Chuck, race. Other drivers are working on their cars or getting something to eat. Everybody is busy doing something. Once all of the street stocks and modifieds finish their heat races, there is the intermission.

The announcer interrupts the radio, “Everyone participating in the parking lot drags should make their way to the pits now. Children doing the penny rush should meet on the track at this time.”

During intermission, the chargers line up in the pits awaiting their 100-lap feature. The kids are running on the front stretch of the track picking up coins. It doesn’t take long for the enthusiastic children to collect the change.

The chargers first line up with the fast 14 group in the front. Mark is the fastest qualifier and therefore, will start in 14th place. Jesse, Logan, and Briana start in 12th, 8th, and 5th place respectively. The remaining sixteen cars line up behind the top 14 in order of fastest to slowest.

Within minutes of the penny rush ending, the chargers begin to drive onto the race track. The flagman waves the yellow caution flag to give the drivers time to warm up their tires. After two laps, the white flag is waved to signal one lap until the race begins. As they come out of the fourth turn, the leaders accelerate to cross the starting line at top speed. They start off the race with the leaders going into turn 1 three cars wide. Logan quickly jumps from 8th to 4th.

The drivers shift positions for the next 10 laps with most staying near their initial starting positions. Mark is fighting for the 7th position when he suddenly hears a rattling in the front left of his car. Not knowing what the rattling could be, he continues the race. Within three laps, without any warning, the car jerks to the right and slams into the concrete wall on the front stretch. Briana gets spun around by Mark and also crashes into the wall.

Immediately the track ambulances and tow trucks are racing onto the track to assess the accident. The medics rush to Mark to check out his condition. He is unable to move his right leg and has to be removed from the car by safety personnel. Mark is rushed to the hospital. Briana doesn’t have any injuries and gets back into the race.

It takes a total of 37 minutes for the safety crew to clean up the track and get the race started again. As the race continues, Jeff is sent to inspect Mark’s car to find out what malfunctioned and caused the accident.

The announcer comes over the loudspeaker. “There’s just 25 more laps left in the race. Who will be the lucky one to take home $5,000 tonight?!”

In the tech garage, Jeff is looking over Mark’s totaled racecar. He notices a nut is missing off the tie rod, but it is not broken. He immediately suspects foul play.

Back on the race track, Briana is currently in fifth place while Jesse and Logan fight over first. There are only six laps remaining. For the next five laps, Jesse and Logan stay ahead of the rest and battle side by side. With one lap left, the flagman waves the white flag as the last 22 cars pass the start-finish line underneath. As the cars enter turn three, the checkered flag is waving and Logan bursts ahead to take the win.

Logan stops at the start-finish line to get his prize and his picture taken. “I would like to thank my father, my team, and all of my sponsors for giving me the chance to win this race. I am forever grateful to you all. Thank you!”  

The night continues with the street stock and modified features. The races finish and fans  exit the grandstands for their cars while others make their way into the pits to load their racecars and go home. Jack invites people over for a barbeque to celebrate Logan’s win.

The next day, guests start arriving at Jack’s house. Mark and Kelly show up with Mark on crutches because of a broken leg. Logan greets Mark. “It’s nice to see that you are okay after that horrible accident.”

Mark shakes Logan’s hand. “Thank you. I’m doing alright. It’s not as bad as it looks.”

Jeff walks over to get Mark’s attention. “Hey, can I talk to you in private for a minute?”

“Yeah, sure.” They walk into a separate room.

Jeff explains to Mark what happened to his car. “This is serious. Someone had to have messed around with the car while you weren’t near it.”

Mark is shocked. “But who would do that? I haven’t done anything for someone to want to get revenge.”

“I don’t know, but I will help you find out.”

Mark finds Kelly to update her on what he has heard. The first person she thinks of is Briana. “I overheard Briana talking to a friend about being desperate for the cash prize. She was stuck on the feeling that she couldn’t win with you in the race.”

“That is ridiculous. We are friends. She wouldn’t do such a thing.”

“Then who would?”

Mark begins to suspect a couple people. “Maybe Jack. Maybe Jesse. They both have reasons to want the money bad enough.”

“I can understand why you might think Jesse, but why Jack?”

“Logan is going to college soon and not only would that money be useful for that, but he also won’t have time to be playing around with a racecar. Jack is extremely competitive and would do anything to see his son win before he leaves.”

In the other room, Jeff calls over Mark, Jack, Logan, and Jesse. “Alright guys, Mark’s car was clearly tampered with before the race. This is a serious matter and everyone here needs to say what they know.”

Jack speaks up first. “I don’t know why I am being called in here. I had nothing to do with the accident and there’s no way Logan would do something like that.”

Jeff replies, “Look, we are not accusing you or Logan. We are simply trying to find out whether or not you have any information that would be helpful.”

“My dad had nothing to do with it. I didn’t either. But..,” Logan pauses. “But I did notice Jesse go over to Mark’s car just after we finished the heat race.”

Jesse tries to defend himself. “Just because you saw me near the car, it doesn’t mean I messed with it.”

Jack jumps back into the conversation. “We all know that this was going to be your last year because you can’t afford to keep racing.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Jesse’s face starts to get red as his anger builds.

“With the prize money, you could race for at least another year,” Mark cuts in.

“Why would one more year matter? I would end up going through the same thing next year.”

“You could have built a better car and had a greater chance at a championship win with that $5,000.”

Jesse snaps back. “And what if  I did. What are you going to do about it?”

Jeff responds, “What I’m going to do is have you banned from the track for life. Whether Mark decides to press charges is on him.”

Jesse marches angrily out of Jack’s house. Mark limps over to Jack. “I apologize for thinking even for a second that you could have had anything to do with this.”

“It’s okay. Thank you. I’m just glad we got it straightened out and you will be okay.”


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