Feud of the Fuel Lanes can be found in

Ace Sports

October 1940

Feud of the Fuel Lanes

By Giles A. Lutz

LANCE WHITLOCK stepped back and silently surveyed his work. For just a moment his hand rested lovingly on the sleek, silver hood of the midget racer. In that gesture was all the affection men reserve for special things.

"She's ready, Mike." The weariness of years crowded into his voice. "Roark Sellers will eat some of his words. So a Whitlock can't do anything. This baby will show him."

Lance Whitlock looked older than forty-five. His hair was prematurely white. His worry-lined, flame-scarred face carried the stamp of age. Tall and entirely devoid of surplus flesh, his nervous frame seemed to be strung on piano wires.

Stocky Mike Boyle looked at him and replied grumpily: "You've been working too hard again, Lance."

Mike had been Lance Whitlock's mechanic when Lance was wheeling with the best of them. At Altoona, when Lance's overturned car became a flaming torch. Mike's hands were scarred by the same flames, for he had fought like a crazy thing, finally dragging Lance clear.

Loyal Mike Boyle, ex-marine and as tough as the legend of the corps. Watching Lance limp about the racer, Mike remembered their last race at Indianapolis. For Lance had gone over the wall and been carried away. But he had confused the best of medical minds and recovered.

Lance left much of himself in that scrambled wreck. Left the coordination between cool, thinking mind and wild, reckless hands and feet. It wasn't fear, for Lance never knew the meaning of the word. It was just a slowing of his mental processes and Lance had recognized it after a few races.

Those weren't his major losses, for the race had taken his wife. Fearfully, she had watched Lance crash through the guard-rail, and a heart that nature said was too weak to watch her husband recklessly ride the turns had let her sag to the floor and failed to bring her back. It had left Lance and the kid, for the first time, responsibility rested heavily upon him.

"I'll never drive again," he had told Mike. "Leave me alone and look out for yourself. I'll never be back in the money. I've got the kid to raise."

"And what about Sellers?" Mike had asked steadily. For it was Sellers who had caused the crash-up at Altoona, and Sellers who had shoved Lance over the wall at Indianapolis.

"Some day," Lance said grimly, "I'll pay him back. But that's not for now. G'wan, get yourself something."

Throughout the years he railed at Mike, but the stubborn Irishman always thrust forth his bulldog jaw and insisted: "We started together. We finish the same way."

Lance kept his word. He never drove again. And he never talked race-driving to his growing youngster. If at times his eyes grew hot and bitter, Mike knew the reason. Knew Lance was thinking of Roark Sellers, the man who had deprived him of the two things nearest his heart.

In the meantime they lived by the skill of their hands, the magic in their fingers. Magic that could make a whining, protesting motor change its song to a perfect symphony.

"We oughta be back," Mike often insisted restlessly.

"And take the kid into that game," Lance snapped. "Oh, no. Look at me."

MIKE mentioned racing less and less and finally shoved the thought to a quiet corner of his mind. They were through, and thinking of it only made them miserable.

Mike came into the garage one day to find Lance tinkering with a motor. A small motor. "A doodlebug," Mike laughed a little scornfully. "Whose?"

"Ours," Lance said. His embarrassed hesitancy disappeared in his mounting enthusiasm and pride. "Mike, the kid's been driving. Driving for over two years. And I just found out." He paused, his eyes reminiscent. "Mike, I guess the flame is born in you. And nothing can stamp it out. He's been driving the midgets, Mike. Good, too," he finished proudly.

"Imagine him not telling us," Mike ejaculated, his jaw hanging.

Lance nodded. "He knows my record, Mike. He didn't want to hurt me. But we'll build him a car. One that will prove him a champion. Only the best, huh, Mike?" Lance's old grin was back and his eyes were young again.

It became the three of them then, heads bent over a midget motor, testing, experimenting. The song of the motor grew sweet and powerful. The Whitlock Special was coming to life.

"Lance," Mike yelled one day, bursting into the garage. "Sellers is building midgets too. He's entering them in the coming indoo...

This is only a preview of this story. The site administrator is evaluating methods to bring it to you.