JBvFb: 2. Monterey Historic Raceway

Follow the posts over the next few days and read the sample chapters (the first six) of Jake Bowers Versus the Firebird.

“Things in the Middle East are getting crazy.  My unit just got called-up.  It’s our turn to go.  All the infantry have to go when they get orders, you know that,” Mark tried to calm Jake with a hushed tone and head motions toward the people who were gawking at them.

 

“I need you, Mark,” Jake said desperately pleading.  Who was going to teach him not to follow in his father’s nerdy footsteps?

2. Monterey Historic Raceway

The Pre-War sport cars were coming around the bend, and Jake sat up ready to enjoy the restored automobiles in all of their glory.  Seeing Model-T’s racing around the track was thrilling.  They were slow, compared to the cars that would be racing later, but they were in pristine condition.

“What do you think it was like?” Jake leaned in and yelled at his uncle over the din of the engines.

Mark grunted, his eyes fixed, unblinking.  He didn’t like being disturbed while the cars were right in front of them.  As the last one turned the corner, Mark turned to Jake.

“What was what like, Bud?”

“What was it like to live back then?”

“You’re so like your father!”  Mark threw his head back and laughed.

The comment stung Jake. He wasn’t like his nerdy dad.  He was like Mark.  Cool and adventurous.  They were at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races together, and Dad had opted to stay home and read.

Mark saw the scowl on Jake’s face, “Listen, I only meant that you think like him.  That’s a compliment, Kiddo.  He’s a genius.  He was always saying crap like that when we were kids.”

“Well, what do you think about when you see the cars?”

“I don’t think about anything.  They’re cars.  What should I think about?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Like how fast they’re going, or how they compare to other cars?”

Mark shook his head and gave another gut laugh. Two bleached blondes in front of them giggled and turned around to smile at Mark.

“Ladies,” he smiled back, and then nodded to the cars that were coming around the bend in front of the stands again.

Jake watched them go around the turn, and then surveyed the crowds.  There were more people here than last year.  He threw his head back and closed his eyes, enjoying the warm morning sun beating down on his face.  Mom would die if she knew that he wasn’t wearing any sunscreen, but that kind of protection was for Dad-type-guys, not Uncle-Mark-guys, which was definitely what he was.

Mark was chatting with the sun-soaked California hotties in front of them and Jake picked up part of the conversation.

“Yeah, my brother’s kid, Jake.”

Jake looked at the women and waved, “Hey.”

“Hey, yourself!” One of the girls said as she batted her eyelashes.

Jake grinned crookedly, but he knew how this would end.  The girls would be nice to him until Mark chose one and then the other, the one “stuck” as Jake’s babysitter would scowl as the Mark-other-girl-flirt-fest went into full-swing.

The cars came back around the track.  It was the ninth lap, and everyone sat up to watch closely because the drivers actually raced the tenth and final segment.

“How is it that a 1924 Ford T Barber-Warnock beats a 1939 Alfa Romeo 6C-2?” Jake said in awe at the end of the race.

“I know, there’s over a decade of difference in production!” Mark was as giddy as his nephew.

“Well, the Ford is America’s car.  It totally kicks Italy’s butt!” Jake was loyal to any 1920’s classic that could outrun a car that was a decade newer.

“What are you givin’ me?  A Ford can’t hold a candle to an Italian Sport’s car.”

“Uh, I believe it just did!” Jake thumped his Uncle’s arm.

Mark grabbed Jake in a headlock and gave him a noogie.  The girls below were patiently waiting for their chance to jump into more flirting when “boy time” was over.  Mark let go of Jake and looked down at them.  They smiled brightly, and Jake sighed.  Mark turned to his nephew.

“Hey, Bud.  You hungry?”

Jake pointed to his mildly-protruding belly, “Always!”

“Yeah, I promised your mom I’d feed you, so let’s go grab something while they get started on the next group.”

They sat down a few minutes later in a different bleacher section with chili-cheese dogs and sodas.

“You know that Mom doesn’t consider this food, right?” Jake smiled and then took an abnormally large bite.

“What mama doesn’t know isn’t gonna hurt anyone, right, Bud?” Mark winked at Jake and dug into his own.

This was the life – junk-food, cars, and Uncle Mark time.  Nothing could top it!

“I wanted to tell you something,” Mark said as he cleaned his tooth with his tongue.  Then he paused and watched Jake for a few moments.

Jake knew from the look on Mark’s face that whatever the news was, it was going to be bad.

“I’m getting deployed to Kazhiristan.”

“Wha-a-a-t?” Jake sputtered out, “When?”

“Next week.”

“But, you just got transferred to Fort Irwin.  You were going to start training me on the weekends this fall.”

“Jake, you can train on weights at the gym with your Dad until I get home.”

“Dad’s not going to take me to the gym, get real!”

“It’s only going to be a twelve-month deployment.”

“Twelve months? You mean, like one year?!?! What the heck?” Jake could hear his voice raising, “Why does the Army need you?”

“Things in the Middle East are getting crazy.  My unit just got called-up.  It’s our turn to go.  All the infantry have to go when they get orders, you know that,” Mark tried to calm Jake with a hushed tone and head motions toward the people who were gawking at them.

“I need you, Mark,” Jake said desperately pleading.  Who was going to teach him not to follow in his father’s nerdy footsteps?

“You’re twelve now – thirteen next April, you’re practically a man now, you’ll be fine!”

“But, what if something happens to you?” Jake said in a whisper.

“Nothing’s going to happen to me.  I’ll be behind the action.”

“But aren’t the infantry like the front-line guys?” Jake blinked in confusion.

“Um,” Mark gulped, “my guys are so lazy, we’ll be the behind infantry guys. You know, the back-up infantry.”

“Okay…” Jake was still confused.

The announcer’s voice blared forth, cutting into the awkward silence. “And the cars are approaching the Corkscrew, getting ready for their final lap here at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, this truly is a gorgeous day to be at the races, ladies and gentlemen.  Later on, we’re hoping to break the all-time unofficial lap record of 1 minute, 5.786 seconds…”

“Let’s go down to the tents,” Mark said and motioned for Jake to follow.

Jake numbly followed his uncle as they crossed over the track on a sky bridge.  Normally standing on the sky bridge was one of Jake’s favorite parts of the day.  He loved heights and watching the cars speed under him.  Today, he felt like the weight of Mark’s announcement was so heavy that he would break the bridge and fall onto the raceway below.

Jake continued to walk slowly as they went down into the center of the field, where the car show was taking place.  He looked at the white tents full of the most magnificently restored cars on display and his mood began to lighten a bit.

“You know, that the Marque is the Mercedes-Benz this year.  They haven’t been featured since 1986?”  Mark said.

“Gotta love those Germans,” Jake said, trying to be a good sport.

They walked through the tents like a couple of little boys with glowing faces.  It was a petrol-head’s dream.

Then a flash of light from the far corner of a tent caught Jake’s eye, and his jaw dropped.

“Follow me,” Jake said to Mark.

“What’d you see?” Mark asked as they rounded some people and stood in front of a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.  The car was a glossy shade of burnt orange that put the fall leaves to shame. It was in perfect condition – like it had just rolled off of the showroom floor.  Its Gullwing doors were open, making the car look poised for flight.

“Where’s the owner, I’ve got to see under that hood!” Jake said as he ran up to the car, “Uncle Mark?”

His uncle was frozen, his typically tan face drained of color.

“Are you okay?” Jake ran back and grabbed Mark’s shoulder.

Mark shook his head, and then tensed his body.  He scanned the crowd, looking for someone.

“Let’s go,” Mark said quietly.

“But, I wanted to check out the Gullwing.”

“Maybe another time,” Mark grabbed Jake’s arm and dragged him away from the vehicle.

“What’s up?” Jake said as Mark began sprinting through the crowd, pulling him along.

“Just hurry.”

“Is it because of the Gullwing?”

Mark stopped and said gruffly, “That’s classified.”

Then he began to jog up the stairs and over the sky bridge back toward the bleachers, but instead of sitting down for the races, he ran toward the stadium exit.  Jake was trying his best to keep pace, but slowed to grab at the painful stitch that was forming in his side.  Mark ran toward the parking area and down the aisles until they came to his Jeep.  Jake came up behind and jumped into the passenger side while wheezing as he caught his breath.  Mark peeled out of the parking area toward the abandoned Fort Ord.  Mark’s muscles were tense as he grabbed the stick shift and pushed his jeep faster toward the main street.

They drove in silence to the freeway.  As the distance grew between them and the raceway, Jake could almost feel the tension begin to dissipate, though his uncle’s muscular jaw was still tightly clenched.

“Where are we going?  We just got here,” Jake said.

“You’re going home,” Mark shot back.

 


Want to read more?

Chapter One- The Ziggurat

Check out the samples at your favorite retailer (by clicking the picture below), or read the next chapter here tomorrow!

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