1948: Speed Is Key

Andrew Smith, guest writer

While heading to the lake after a long day on the farm, in his old beat up truck with fishing poles in the bed, I caught a glimpse of a billboard on the side of the road that said, “Daytona beach speed trials for anyone who shows.” Immediately I hit the brakes just to sit there with my hands on ten and two and my mouth wide open in awe thinking to myself self this is my chance.


                   Two days later I showed up at Daytona around 9:30 pm after a 13 hour drive from Montgomery Alabama. I arrive tired and ready for bed knowing that I need sleep for the big day tomorrow. I arrive at The Streamline Hotel looking to book a room for the night, but when I get up to the counter to ask for a room there is no body at the front dest. I stepped behind the counter  into what seems to be a office. Not to my surprise there is someone asleep in the chair sitting at the desk.

         I walked up to him and said, “Sir, can you help me?”

          Groggy and confused he replies, “Howdy! My name is Thomas. What may I do for you?”

         “Well seeing as how I’m at a motel, I think I’m here for a room. I need a room under the name of Jim Carter.”

         “Well ok, I think I got a room for ya Jim… here are ur room keys for room 23.”

         “Thank you. I will make sure to let you know if I need anything else Thomas.”

 “I don’t doubt that you will buddy.”


         I put my stuff down as I walk into my room I set down the small bag that I had brought with me that contains my clothes and toothbrush. Without even preparing to go to bed I laid my previously sweat soaked head on the cold cool pillow, I quickly drifted off to sleep. About an hour later I was woken up to the sound of someone yelling in the room across from mine. I try to ignore it but the harder I try the louder it seems to get. Eventually I get up out of bed and put on my dirty greased stained pants. I walk to the door and go to open it when all of the sudden all of the yelling stops. So of course I turn to go lay pack down when I here the yelling start up again. So I open my door and walk to the other room and knock on the door and yell

         “Not trying to be impolite but if y’all could stop yelling and making so much noise so people in the surrounding rooms, it would be much appreciated. Thank you.”

         I walk back to my room and take off of my dirty pants, crawl back into the bed and fall back to sleep.


         In the morning I found my self at the speed trial only to find out that they were letting in anyone due to the lack of people that were showing up to race. Which in a way was a prayer in disguise because on the road trip down, the last hour or two, the car started to run a little rough do to the fact that it was one hundred degrees out side which, caused the car to over heat. I stoped at a gas station and talked to the owner and he let me take the car around the back of his shop to fill the radiator full of fresh cold water. Which seemed to help, but now the car needs an oil change. I walk up to the announcement both to ask where I could get oil. He points me towards a small quick oiled change shop right down the road. So I head to the shop and when I get there, I see a line of cars waiting to get their oil changed, new tires put on, and even new engines put in. So seeing as how the wait to get work done to a car was a couple days and seeing how the race was only 3 days away I head to a local parts store to get the oil so I could change it my self .

         But after getting the oil I realized something, where am I going to change it at? I began to think to my self that surely they would have a place to change it. So I get there and I find a build where they work on cars and go in and ask if they had a moment to help me but they said no. But they said that they would how ever let me borrow an oil pan and a floor jack.

         After changing the oil and checking all of the other fluids, I went off for a test ride. On the test ride I put the car through its courses and everything seemed just fine. I got permission to cut the line and run the course now instead of later. So I get ready at the starting line, and wait for the flag man to give me the go. As I wait the only thing running through my head is I can not mess this up. If i mess up on the  first lap I will be in a terrible place when it comes to the race. So with that in mind, I gripped the steering wheel as I gazed at the flag man. I signaled him the ok. My heart raced as he dropped the green flag.


         After the trials I drove to a restaurant called Bea’s, i walked through the doors and seated myself at the bar. Looking up from the menu I see this dirty blond, blue eyed, short girl walking over my way. Low and behold she comes and sits in the chair right next to me. She takes off her apron, sits down, and orders a Dr. Pepper. She looks over at me with a smile that will no matter what make u smile from ear to ear.

         “ Dr. Pepper, Huh?”

         “ Well yeah, let me guess you got coke?”

         “ Sure did, better than that stuff.”

         “ Oh really? Wanna put money on that?”

         “ No I think I’d loose that bet. Plus I’d have to let you win.”

         “ I’d win weather you let me or no, I’m always right.”

         The way her eyes were so bright, I couldn’t help but want to talk to her more. She was pretty funny and cute. And yet so confident, that even I knew she would be right.

         “ So what’s your name?” I asked her

         “ Lani, you?”

         “ I’m Jim, and I know this is kind of weird or awkward but would you maybe do me the honor of going on a date…with me?”

         “ I would love too.”

         “ Well I have this race tomorrow for the Daytona…”

         “Yes I’ll come, you don’t even have to ask twice!”

         “ Alrighty then, I look forward to seeing you.”

         “ You too!”


         All I could hear was the roar of starting engines and screaming crowds, I looked to my right to see Lani standing in the crowd. A burst of encouragement from her gave me hope that I could place in the top three. I could hear the counter going down until until the flag would be dropped. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing but my eyes remained on the flag. 3. 2. 1. The flag dropped. I slammed my foot on the gas keeping my eyes for ward. A few laps in and I was in the top ten. I couldn’t believe myself. I rounded the circle but I got hit, the car began to spin and I got dizzy, and dust swarmed around me in a circle. Cars began to pass and my place in the race reduced. Not giving up I hit the gas, and passed many cars. I was up to thirteenth but that wasn’t good enough. I hit someone out of the way and made my way into fifth. Two laps to go, I was in second now, 1 more lap, I made my way up to the first place driver tying us together, just a few more feet to go, and the last thing i saw was the drop of the flag.