Friday, February 1, 2013


"Start her up, will ya?"

Jack pushed in the clutch and revved the engine.  Dave waved at him to shut it off.

"Good!  Good."  Dave said and he ran behind to check Sean.

"Start her up, Sean!"

The crew was about to drive their one local race of the year.  The track was a loop all the way around Manchester.  It was a very plain race around the smoke stacked city; just a circle loop.

The terrain was flat except for one hill - Kersal Moor.  A flat and straight race means the fastest car will usually win.  This was fine news for Jack and Sean.  They made fast cars.  But there were some other fast cars at the race too.  There was a French team at the race and any French team had fast cars.  The French were the premier race car drivers and they were very proud with that title.  Spanish racers were also very talented and their cars were just as fast.  These two States sponsered the fastest cars out there.

There were a few reasons why the hub of racing centered around the South of Europe:  the climate was great for racing and the fanfare was best.  Not only did the men love to watch the cars but the women loved to watch too, but mostly for the drivers.  The drivers were rock stars.  They were the new bull fighters and troubadours.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Pub

The guys frequented a pub down the road from their shop.  It was one of the more popular pubs in the area.  Since industry had become such a staple there were more and more middle class workers to spend their money on drink and it had created a large party scene.

Sean was already a drink deep when the other two arrived.  Jack and Dave saddled up next to him at the bar; Dave motioned for a drink from the keep but apparently the keep didn't notice.

"Some cuties here tonight."  Sean said.

Dave turned his head around to look.

"What are you doing Dave!  Remain calm.  Don't look around."

"I was just looking for the cuties."  Dave didn't see the big deal.

Sean looked up from his drink, "If they see you looking around then they will know you are desperate."

Dave was still looking around the bar, "None of them are looking at me.  How will they notice if they aren't looking at me?"

"Women are more perceptive than you think.  They notice all of your movements."

Jack got the keeps attention and ordered a round.  "You're not reading one of those stupid new training manuals on 'How to Attract Women' are you Sean?"

"Maybe I am."  Sean took a sip of his whiskey.  "It worked last night."

"Yes, we know, you got laid last night."  Jack raised his drink in a mock toast to Sean.

Jack looked at Dave.

"Big race tomorrow!"  Said Dave.

"Yeah, the only one we get to do at home this year.  Good thing we don't have to travel."  Said Sean as he took down his drink and moved onto the one Jack had bought him.

"Still got to be up bright an early.  I think I'll head home after this one."  Jack said.

"Me too."  Said Dave.

They both looked at Sean who was looking across the room at a group of girls that were standing by a table dancing.  There was a long silence from the guys as they watched Sean stare at the girls.

"I thought we weren't doing that."  Said Dave.

Sean looked at him, "Yeah well I was just sizing them up.  I'm going to go over there while you boys hold hands."

They watched Sean as he grabbed his drink and lumbered over to the girls.  He smiled and said something to one of them.  The girl promptly slapped him.

Sean stood their dazed as the girl moved away from him.  He then turned and lumbered back to the bar.  His friends said nothing as they sipped their whiskey.

Jack finished his drink.  "Well I'm turning in.  See you boys bright and early,"

"I'm turning in to."  Said Dave.

Sean kept his head down, moaned something and waved at them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Future of Racing

Mickey's team had been racing for a few years together before they decided to venture off of the British Island.  Each race cost the shop in part because Sean and Jack would race, and were paid to do so, and also because Mickey liked being at the races.

A race would last a long weekend.  They would close the shop early on Friday to travel to their destination, the race would be Saturday, and then after a long night celebrating, Sunday they traveled back to Manchester.

Dave went too.  He functioned as a second pair of eyes to make sure the cars were tuned.  So there was no production and no sales on racing weekends.

But the racing team had garnered Mickey's shop the spotlight they sought.  Jack and Sean were winning a lot of races and people from all over the Isles came to buy cars from Mickey.  So when Jack asked Mickey if they could compete in a race in Ireland he knew the chances were good for them to go.

"The trip would take longer than racing here, but you and I can take a short vacation back at the homeland too.  You haven't been back to Ireland in a couple years, right?"

"I've been thinking about going back.  When's the race?"

"September.  We have to enter this week if we want to go.  And there are two races: one that goes to Dublin and one to Galway."

"Which race should we run?"

Jack was happy Mickey had agreed to go.  "Galway.  It's going to have less cars but more fanfare.  The west has enjoyed the car scene much more than Dublin, but Dublin is buying more cars."

Less cars meant less prize money, but more fanfare meant more publicity for Mickey.

"Your family's from Galway."  Mickey asked Jack, knowing the answer.


"It will be good for you to see them.  Family is important."

"Great, I'll go tell the guys."

Mickey relaxed into his office chair and poured himself a drink.

"Hey boys, you ever been to the Emerald Isle?"

"I was on Sarah Brown's Isle last night," Sean said, "But it wasn't green!"

Jack sat down in a chair and grabbed a bottle Sean had been sipping off while tuning up a car.

"We're going to Ireland for a race next month.  It will give you a chance to see God's country with your own eyes."

"I told you, I saw God's country last night."

"Your pretty proud of yourself Sean."  Said Dave while he tooled under a car.

"Have you seen her tits?"  He held his hands out like he was carrying two melons against his chest.  "You would be proud too!"

"So half the town is proud like smart monkeys, alright."

Sean walked over to Dave and crouched down to see him.  "Dave when was the last time you were laid?"  He turned over his shoulder, "Are the girls easy in Ireland?"

Jack shrugged.

"We will get you laid in Ireland.  I heard they're a rowdy bunch.  The girls like to sing and dance on the tables.  We will take full advantage of their propensity to drink."

Sean grabbed his coat and hat from the rack by the door.  "I'm going over to the pub.  See you guys tonight."

Jack nodded.

Dave stayed under the the car for a minute while Jack nursed his drink.  Jack looked past the walls in front of him to a place in his mind that seemed elsewhere.  Dave finished and walked over to the table to pour himself his first of the night.

"Should we race the V-8 in Ireland?"  Dave asked and looked up from his pour while he did.

Jack smiled, "Maybe.  Will it be ready?"

"It's ready now, at least for a test drive."

Jack had the same look on his face as he had before.  He was half excited and half content.  He and Dave had been trying to add speed to their cars for the last year and almost by accident they realized all they had to do was slap two V-4 engines together and they would have twice the power as they had before.

Jack took his legs off the desk and sat straight up.  "Well we have a race tomorrow, but then maybe we take the V-8 for a drive on Sunday.  Hopefully it runs well enough for us to race it by the end of the season."

Dave had a big smile on his face.  "I've been waiting for you to say go!"

Jack patted Dave on the back.  "Let's go join Sean for a round.  We need to make sure he doesn't drink himself under the bar before the race."

They two locked up the shop and headed to the pub.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Car: An Introduction to Racing in Europe

Ireland is said to have one nice month of weather a year and this month was used by the turn of the 20th century European car culture to come and race the emerald hills.  Most people don't like dark weather - clouds, rain, and the like because it limits outdoor comfort, yet there are many things that can be done in the Fall and Winter.  The wet season is the best time to collect mushrooms, for example.  But there are certain times when nice weather is needed.  The car culture seized the dry days as an opportunity to roll over the dirt roads that line the hills in metal carraiges with the speed of horses.

The one nice month is September.  The sun shines every day and the fair skinned Irish get to warm their bones.  Drinking their stouts the Irish lay out in the fields and sing and dance until the sun goes down.  So to did the rest of Europe celebrate the month by driving the twisted backroads and hilly cliffsides to burn their rubber on.

Europe adopted car racing as a major sport at the turn of the 20th Century.  Europe has been highly industrialized and the people were craving dramatic entertainment; the car combined both in an unbridled and unforgiving manner.  Races would end in deathly crashes and sometimes would never end at all.  Many were called off when too many cars ended up in ditches on the side of the roads.  Yet this added to the excitement and lined the grandstands that much more.

Where there were races from Bordoux to Barcelona in July, and Berlin to Amsterdam in August, the racing circuit came to Ireland in September.  The cars were loaded off the ferries in Cork and carted to various towns for their respective races.  Most raced north to Dublin where the prize was biggest, some drove west to Galway where the fanfare was greater.  These were the two main races.

Jack, who was Irish but had moved to England to build cars a few years earlier, liked the money but loved the promotion of racing.  Racing had created a fanbase that was as populated by men as it was women.  The fans would spend hours lined up on the roads to watch the cars go by.  Women wore their sexiest outfits to cheer on the drivers and men chewed their stogies as they waited for the wiz of the autos.

It drew to its base people who liked to be excited.  The car is a sexy beast afterall:  a man made monster as fast as a horse at the push of the pedal, it could be driven with ease where no bike could go before.  It was also a status symbol that drew those who had never driven or even seen one.  And this popular culture was just getting started.

Jack had been racing as long as anyone.  He started when he built a soapbox car from his father's scrap pile and took it to a nearby hill and ran it down the road.  He crashed it on its first run but instead of licking his wounds he studied how to rebuild it.  Soon he had learned how to not only build fast soapbox cars but also how to seat an engine in an automobile.

He took his knowledge to England where cars were attracting a lot of investment.  Shops had popped up in every city and cars were now populating the streets.  Racing had began to catch on too but was still in its infintile stage.  Racing was biggest on mainland Europe, especially in France and Spain where the summer was longer than the north country.  Jack hoped to race in France one day but first needed to make a name for himself.  France was the big leagues and to get in the big leagues one needed a big sponser.

Jack's current sponser was the owner of the car shop he worked for.  His name was Mickey and was an Irishman as well.  Mickey was an older man than Jack, rounded by years of eating pot pies and drinking whiskey.  Mickey was one of the first to open up an auto shop in Manchester in the large industrial park downtown.  A man who liked to tinker with mechanics he had sold bikes before cars.

"There is a similarity between a bike and a car," he would say, "On the outside it is the wheels and gears, but there is also the ability to move quicker than the legs can work by themselves."

Mickey had been making cars for a few years before Jack showed up.  His cars were at first commisioned by private mechanics who would rent the shop to build them and then the cars were sold to Mickey.  After awhile Mickey discovered if he bought the parts it made him more money to pay the mechanics a flat wage to build the machines.  Mickey's was one of the first car plants and dealerships in England.

Mickey was a decent mechanic but a great salesman.  He knew how a car was put together well enough to answer any questions about them and it was much more profitable for the shop to have Mickey spend his time on the floor and have the hired mechanics make the product.

He was bringing the automobile to the common man but only the common men with money.  There were many lords and sirs who bought from Mickey but also some who were not privelaged with castles and acres of fox hunting land.  It would be another decade before cars would be mass assembled and so his clients were wealthy men who had the funds to be the first car owners. 

The men who would come to buy cars were first offered a drink as Mickey greeted them at the door to the floor of the garage.  Then Mickey would find out why the man wanted a car and tell him those were the perfect reasons to buy one.  Because not many people had driven cars Mickey would have Jack or one of the other two mechanics take them for a test drive around the city streets.  When they got back the men were usually excited enough to ink a sale.

Jack had been working for Mickey for a year when he convinced him to sponser Jack in a race.

"Imagine!  We could put the name of the shop on the side and everyone in town would know where to buy their first car!"

Mickey slept on the idea, or rather drank on it, and came back to Jack the next day.

"How much will it cost me?"

"Tell you what Mickey, if you sponser the car at the races I'll split the winnings with you."

"Now you're thinking about winning the races?  You sure are a confident man, Jack.  You've never raced a car in your life and you're thinking about winning.  So how much is it going to cost me?"

After Jack and Mickey figured out how much a sponsership was for races in England they shook hands on it.  Mickey was now a sponser and Jack was a race car driver.

Jack and the two other mechanics went to the local pub that night to discuss their future in racing.

"Does that mean we will get to race too?"  Asked Dave.  Dave was a kind hearted Brit who did mostly  grunt work for the shop.

"Well, there has to be two cars on a team, and I know I will be driving that second car."  Said Sean.  Sean was a lumbering Scot who could out drink anyone at the bar on any given night.

Jack looked at Dave, "Mickey wants Sean driving the second car."

"Probably because we drink the same whiskey."  Joked Sean.

"You drink the same whiskey because you drink his whiskey."  Dave pointed out.

"That's not true and even if it were true he would never know because he drinks so much he can't miss any of it."

Sean slammed his drink down and motioned to the keep for a refill.

"Dave, we will need you to be a live mechanic at the start of the races, so don't act like you aren't a part of the team."

Dave smiled.  More than anything he liked being part of this crew.  Sean and Jack were cool guys and Mickey's was one of the better shops to work at.

"Cheers!  To our new racing careers!"