Nightsounds - Part 11 "Every Rose Has It's Thorn"


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Nightsounds – Part 11
“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”

The sun was now a memory. Twilight had swept its cool hand over the land and the brilliant floodlights that ran the length of the track and turning night into day in the staging area were humming their night song. Thousands of insects of every species darted in and out of the lights' warm glow, many plunging to smoldering deaths if they got too close to the several hundred watt bulbs. An occasional bat flitted into the eerie glow to gather its evening meal of mosquitoes and moths, only to disappear as quickly as it came – oblivious to the roar of horsepower and the screams of the crowd below… The four lane that paralleled the strip only a mile and a half away showed its nightly stream of traffic, the rumble of heavily laden 18-wheelers and intermittent Autobahn racer wannabes’ exhausts completely lost in the din from the strip. Only ever so often could an ultra high horsepower car’s startup be heard from the pit area west of the staging lanes – its rumble always eliciting grins from the knowing and the faithful.

Dan was now at the burnout box, having backed into it simultaneously with his opponent, an early ‘90’s Fox Body with a huge Vortech sticker in the rear window. The Mustang had a very deep whine which could even be heard over Dan’s SS’s rumble. I guess this will be a good one to start with… Dan thought. Hitting the line lock and bringing the LT1 up in rpms the drag radials only mildly protested against the weight of the car before the nearly 700 lb/ft of torque overwhelmed them and began the rotation. Slowly then abruptly, the rubber scrubbed itself in the water atop the asphalt, it’s surface temperature rising quickly – developing steam and beginning to melt the surface of the tires. Huge plumes of smoke now rose from beneath both vehicles; the Mustang driver sidestepped his brake with the heel of his right foot a second before Dan released the Line Lock, both vehicles spinning wildly at first then hooking and rocketing toward the Prestage lights.

Both drivers slowed and then began the creep into the invisible electronic beams that ran across their lanes. Breaking the beam of the first set of bulbs caused the “Prestaged” yellow light to illuminate in each lane. Then, ever so slowly both racers rumbled/whined on into the path of the second row of lights – the “Staged” beam. Once this beam was broken, each racer promptly braked, ceasing their car’s forward movement. Dan staged first and immediately began to press the accelerator, running the LT1’s torque up against the 3200 rpm convertor. The Mustang also was now slowly, slowly, slowly creeping into the path of his “Staged” beam and as soon as it lit the bulb, the tree started. His rpms were up now, well over 4,000, his clutch foot just below the threshold point of engagement, his eyes glued to the tree…

First yellow…

The Impala was now beginning to lift the rear ever so slightly, the torque trying to twist the rear axles from the housing, only the brakes holding the black leviathan in restraint. In the stands, Sally watched, her hands clenched, knowing how much this race meant to Dan as far as bragging rights. She saw the second yellow lamps blink on…

Second yellow…

Dan’s grip on the leather covered steering wheel tightened, his knuckles white beneath the gloves. His helmet strap tight beneath his chin, a bead of sweat snaked from beneath his Bell down his neck… His eyes were solidly locked on the ambers, his ears telling him the LT1 was at maximum sustainable speed without breaking the tires loose… In his right ear he could clearly hear the whine of the stroked 5 liter (+)’s motor.

The Mustang driver liked running late in the evening. With the air being denser, the blower helped make more power. He hadn’t been up against the Impala to his left before but from the sound of its exhaust he knew it was far from stock.

As the Second Amber bulb lit, both racers set in motion huge events with only very small movements of their body. In the left lane, immediately as he saw the second bulb light, Dan’s reaction was to lift his left foot from the brake pedal. The idea was to break free of the “Staged” beam close enough to the perfect reaction time without redlighting, although with tonight being a test/tune evening it didn’t really matter. Except to the racers. No one wanted to “win” on a redlight so as always, it was a gentleman’s code to run from a clean tree.

As he lifted his foot, the hydraulic fluid pressure dropped immediately, allowing the brake springs on the Chevy to pull the calipers away from the rotors. This sudden freedom of rotation allowed the torque to violently begin twisting the entire drive train of the SS, transferring it to ultimately be applied against the small but sticky contact patch of the DR’s upon the asphalt. No sooner had the torque been loosed did the third light illuminate…

Third Yellow…

Just as Dan was releasing his car, the Mustang driver sidestepped the clutch and floored the accelerator – just as the second yellow glowed. High-pressure clutch springs threw the clutch face against flywheel of the Blue Oval motor just its rpm’s were racing skyward. A perfect launch, with the tremendous shock load being handled with ease, rewarded the driver. As in the Impala, now the torque of the motor had to overcome the weight of the car and driver, the static position of all the rotating drivetrain components, and most of all, Newton’s Law that says “A body at rest will stay at rest until acted upon by an outside force”. In this case, the body at rest was a 3540 lb Ford Mustang GT (with driver) – the outside force was the several hundred horsepower supercharged V8’s torque. And the torque won. Actually, the torque was overwhelming.

Just as the maximum torque was reached and the rear tires almost at the point of losing adhesion, a weak universal said “I’m outa here…”. With a loud crack, it sheared itself free from the tailshaft yoke causing the V8 to be complete free of any load at all… a very, very bad thing when the accelerator is floored and the blower is cramming even more air/power into it.

Green light…

Almost in slow motion, the SS lifted its left front fender as the car broke free of the beams. A .51 Reaction time flashed on the board in Dan’s lane 1320 feet away, his SS now accelerating at a rapid pace. He heard an odd noise and a super-high pitched whine as he launched, then another very loud boom, saw a .77 RT in the right lane but then focused only on the end of the track. No time to worry now about what happened – get the best ET was all the mattered. He roared across the finish not knowing that his was a solo run until he picked up the slip at the shack…

But back at the starting line…

As the SS roared away, the crowd watched as the maroon Fox-body first jerked, then bucked as a loud “Crack!” was heard, then heard the engine over-rev only for a moment before another very loud “BOOM!” was heard with sparks coming from beneath the engine. Nasty mechanical sounds stopped abruptly, the exhaust note of the SS fading with each passing second. Dark fluid could be seen dripping/pouring from beneath the mortally wounded Mustang – oil. And antifreeze. Number three rod had freed itself of the piston as well as the crank and chose to leave the confines of the block out the side – but only after it had hurled the piston violently upward into the head and cracking it while flattening the valves trying to do their duty.

The driver sat in disbelief, still not sure that what he had just felt/heard was real. But he knew it was. The crowd first cheered then began to boo, knowing that another delay was inevitable now. He unbuckled his five-point, pulled his helmet off and sat it on the floor board of the passenger side (the seat gone to save weight) and wanted to cry. Another season wasted as well as a lot of money. Maybe next year, he thought as he watched the Chevy’s board illuminate with a 11.77/114.8 light. Damn… I would have got him, too… he murmured to no one but himself. I would have got him… Next year… it will be different next year…

Meanwhile… back in the staging lanes…

Joe and Rob finally hooked up and were talking trash and laughing just as a guy in a new firesuit walked up. Standing there quietly, he just stared the Camaro SS and then asked, “Do you remember running a Cobra R out near Carson and Mulvaney a few weeks ago?”

“Carson and Mulvaney?” asked Rob. “Hey! Yeah, I do. Some clown in a Cobra R was playing touchy feely with this chick then he gets cutesy with me at the next intersection. But it wasn’t any contest – I dusted him …” Rob’s voice trailed off as he made the connection. “It was you?” he laughed. “YOU were the guy in the R? Man, I’m sorry, but you asked for it.” It wasn’t the fact that Rob was laughing about it that really pissed Joshua off – it was that he knew Rob was right.

“Tell you what Camaro boy. How’s about you and me running heads up tonight? I’ve got a little something for you”, said Josh, his voice cold and vengeful. “And this time, there aren’t any distractions. I’m three cars behind you and two lanes over. How about you back out and we’ll line up together. Unless you’re afraid to race where it really matters – at the track.”

Now, Rob was the one who was pissed. But only for a moment – then he regained his composure, recognizing a good fisherman when he saw him.

“Ok… it’s all in fun anyhow. Sure. I’ll run you.”

“I got another idea…” stroked Josh. “How about we make this interesting… say, run for money?”

Rob was immediately suspicious. “How much you wanna lose tonight, catfish?” he asked, the insult (catfish = all mouth and a tiny brain) lost on the attorney.

“Oh… how about $500?” asked Josh coolly, pulling his wallet out and holding five $100’s in his hand. Rob laughed, which surprised the R owner.

“Man, I ain’t got that kind of cash on me tonight. I work for MY money!” Another insult above Josh’s head.

Pulling $200 out of his wallet, all twenties, he countered – “How about this? I’ll run you for two bills, ok?”

“Alright. Let’s do it. And your buddy can hold the money, ok?” Josh was so eager for revenge he didn’t even think about whether he should trust Joe with the money. Dancing back to his Cobra, he had to push his way through several onlookers to get in, all the while ignoring their questions. Now he would simply wait… wait like the scavenger he was, both in his professional life as well as his personal life.

Jen waited quietly in the stands, watching the track crew clean up the mess from the blown Mustang in record time. Racing quickly resumed with several more pairs squaring off. Then, finally, she saw the orange nose of Josh’s Cobra slither through the gates alongside a low black car. She wasn’t much on cars but she knew she had seen this one before… Where was it? She couldn’t remember – but she knew this car from somewhere…

Both the SS Camaro and the wildly modded R were now at the lights, the “Staged” bulbs lit and the tree in motion…

*Blink* The first amber… Roars of exhaust from both cars, the crowd was silent…

*Blink* Amber #2… Tension thick in the air, a whine easily heard from the Camaro, a loud whistle – was that a pair of whistles? - from the Cobra…

*Blink* Amber #3… both cars now were being unshackled from their restraints by the dumping of clutches, the increasing of throttle body openings and the ramping up of the power adders – a single blower on the Camaro; twin turbos on the Cobra.

*Blink* GREEN! Both cars broke the beams and began their runs as if welded together. Both had identical RT’s - .51’s. The crowd was at it’s feet in a roar as they left the tree, neither one at an advantage.

Rob and Josh were slamming the gears, not letting off. No matter what else you could say about Josh’s personality – he could drive. He might have been distracted that night on the street, but here he was in the zone. He hit every shift flawlessly – even now and ever so slightly, he began to pull away from the Camaro… the DOHC running strong with it’s new induction system cramming huge volumes of air into the hand made plenum.

Josh crossed the finish line almost 4 tenths of a second quicker than Rob, but not as fast as he wanted – 11.13 versus Rob’s 11.52. Still, he took consolation in the fact that he had won easily AND that he hadn’t even used his ace in the hole. There was more from where this came from – much more…

Getting back to the lanes, Josh jumped out expecting excuses from Rob and protests about the money. But he was wrong. Rob was out of his car first, extending his hand to shake Josh’s just as Joe was walking up.

“Hand him his money, Joe! He’s got quite a car there!” Rob laughed. “Man, you sure surprised me. I guess I should have looked under your hood first, huh?”
Josh laughed nervously. “Well, the motor’s not exactly what you raced uptown that night. It’s had some ‘work’, shall we say?”

Both laughed. Then, Joe stepped up. “Tell you what, my man. How about running me and my Mopar? It won’t be as easy I think.”

Josh thought for a moment…”For another $200? Sure, even if I lose, I’ll only be losing your buddy’s money… why not? Whacha got?”

Joe looked at Rob and then with a poker face said, “A Viper. A Hennesey 600 actually. I just got it back a couple of weeks ago. Whadayasay? Game? Here’s my $200. Hey, I’ve got an idea – let’s make this even more interesting. You wanted to run for $500 earlier – how about now?” Joe’s eyes sparkled in the cool night air… he knew how to fish too.

“Boy, I’ll be glad to take your money as well as your friend’s. A 600 horsepower Viper don’t worry me at all…” Josh chuckled, knowing that he had to be making well over that now. Don’t you worry none there, rube. I’ll take your money just as quick. Just give me another ten seconds or so…
OH YEAH! Guess I can put off work a little longer. This stuff is like crack!

BTW, I loved this: "Now he would simply wait… wait like the scavenger he was, both in his professional life as well as his personal life."
In a word...

Yes - if you want the story to flow like it has. All of these chapters are written not knowing what the next one will bring. I just wait and get the ideas and then sit down at the keyboard for a couple of hours to pound them out. Most are written about 3-4 am. :eek:

Thanks for the kind words. You can find the others by doing a search using the word "Nightsounds".

Be careful out there - although I write a lot about street racing, I do not condone or recommend it. It IS a fact of life, and what most of us have done but it's still dangerous and actually, very foolish.

Take it to the track. At least there are safety personnel standing by and the likelihood of taking out innocents is greatly reduced.

LOL, may be an Addiction!

Just finished printing all of the Nightsounds Installments out, so I can read and enjoy from the beginning, seeing that i've only read 10-12!