Chapter One – Ready to race
Zoey Harrison sat in the driver’s seat of her junior sedan and tried to ignore the butterflies crowding in her stomach. Part of it was fear – this was her first time racing junior sedans at Speedway. But most of it was excitement.
She’d been waiting for this night for most of her life, watching from the Members’ Stand as her Dad raced his street stock round the dirt track, dreaming of one day racing her own car.
Dad hadn’t wanted Zoey to race at all, but she’d worn him down over the last two years. She had asked and begged. She had hung around and helped him when he was fixing his car, and begged some more.
And finally Dad had given in. He had bought an old junior sedan and he and Zoey had spent days making sure it would pass inspection.
Now Zoey was here, sitting in her very own green and yellow modified Datsun, her helmet pressing against her cheeks and her five-point harness snug around her body. Ahead of her four other junior sedans formed a line behind the big In Gate, waiting for the street stock race to finish. Her Dad was out on the track, racing his Number 7. Zoey’s gloved hands flexed on the wheel. Soon it would be her turn.
Suddenly the car ahead of her – Jamie’s black number 25 – jerked forward. Zoey let him move ahead a few metres, then slid the stick into first gear and pressed her foot down on the accelerator. Her car eased forward, its engine muffled through Zoey’s helmet. Her hands could feel the vibration through the steering wheel, and a huge grin stole across her face.
‘This is it!’ she whispered.
‘Drive safe, Zoey!’ called the gate official as she passed, and she gave him a quick wave before turning right onto the speedway track.
The track lights were blinding, a ring of brilliance high on poles around the dirt-track oval. In the grassy infield sat the ambulance, the tow truck, and a few push-cars. ‘Not going to need them,’ Zoey muttered as she followed Jamie’s tailgate slowly around the inside edge of the track. The racing lights around the outside edge of the track flashed red as they passed the tower where Mr Rogerson stood with the green flag furled in his hand. The line of cars picked up speed as they rounded turn one, turn two, turn three… The racing lights flashed amber, and Zoey tightened her hands on the wheel.
Turn four now, then the tower, then suddenly the lights flicked to green, Mr Rogerson’s flag was waving madly, and Jamie’s tailgate surged away.
Zoey stamped on the accelerator. She might have had to start rear of field because she was new, but it didn’t mean she had to stay there!
The car sang around her, its engine roaring. Zoey’s hands were sure on the wheel, her eyes reading the track ahead as Dad had shown her. The other four cars were strung out ahead, the three more experienced drivers sliding round the corners. Turn two, turn three, and she’d caught up to Jamie, his black tailgate looming in front of her.
Zoey gritted her teeth. Dad had said to play safe her first race, but Jamie was right there! She could pass him, she knew it. She followed him around turn four then made her move, swinging the steering wheel to the right and flooring the accelerator.
Instantly she knew she was in trouble. The whole car seemed to lift from the track as her rear wheels lost traction on the soft dust. Instinctively she lifted her foot from the accelerator, braced herself against the seat as her Datsun skidded across the track –
And her passenger side back corner slammed into the wall almost directly below where Mr Rogerson was waving his red ‘race aborted’ flag.