No Fear

Steven Marsh wants to be a motor racing driver- can he achieve his goal? Lets find out together...

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2. Vroom Vroom

The first race of the season was upon Steven Marsh. His team, the oddly named Meerkat Racing, was a small group of enthusiasts which included his team mate Peter Sullivan, three older men (Ellis Piper, Jack Hood and Johnathan Le Saux), and the team manager, Rodger Harris. The two karts were 2-stroke engines, with 90hp and designed as an open kart- placing the driver firmly in the middle of the kart. Today, they (and the other nine teams) had gathered at the Daytona Milton Keynes, for a forty-minute non-stop race, after five minutes worth of qualifying.

"You alright?" Rodger asked of Steven. Rodger was in his late fifties, had been something of a wheeler-dealer in his youth, and wore ill-fitting track suits (today, a silver number that gleamed in the sun and hurt Steven's eyes. His face was creased from too much time spent in the sun, and he looked a little bit like a plum left outside for too long. His hair was completely grey.

He was however a great guy- a genuine person who might have been a little over the top but had his heart in the right place.

"Yeah, I'm fine." Replied Steven. Well, actually, I want to puke. The team was gathered by the side of the track, the karts prepped, with qualifying only a few minutes away. Some of the other racers had been doing these circuits and this championship for a couple of years- experienced and savvy, they were. Steven was hungry for pole position (what an advantage that would be!), but getting it was going to be very, very difficult.

"Great." Rodger patting Steven on the back. "Helmet on and get strapped in. I have faith in you lad. Don't let me down."

With the Golden Phoenix with him, wings outstretched across his helmet, Steven felt better. It was time to take his kart for a spin.

"Qualifying begins NOW!" Boomed a voice over several loudspeakers- the few hundred people (mostly relatives of the racers and staff) that come to watch cheered.

Almost immediately the two racers from the Elite Dragons took off across the track, followed up next by Team Unleaded, who also took to qualifying, zipping out of the pit lane at impressive speed. Petrol fumes already began to change the flavour of the air.

"Ok lad, lets see what you can do." Rodger beckoned at one of the marshalls (wearing high-vis orange jackets), and the marshall gave Steven the OK sign- he put the pedal to the metal and was away.

The pit lane exit was fairly short and led out onto the track just after the first corner. The counter-clockwise circuit's next corner was a fairly tight left-hander, followed swiftly by a right-hander of similar design. Steven hit them as hard as he could, his kart bumping across the red and white kerbs as he accelerated out of them.

Next up was a left hairpin. The hesitant drivers would slow down considerably, but the brave and the quick didn't waste time braking too much. They allowed the back of the kart to skid around the corner and this was exactly what Steven did. He mentally chuckled, imagining he was playing Mario Kart, skidding around the corner and hurling banana peels in his wake.

More engines were revving now, and Steven was dimly aware of the presence of other karts out on the track. During the race he'd have to be a little more mindful of them- but not now.

Out of the hairpin there was a gentle curve up to the next corner, a slightly wider right hairpin that lent itself to being taken at speed a little better than the last corner. Steven once again let the kart's momentum take him around it, and used the kerb to his advantage as he came out of the corner.

He went flat out down the next straight, which led into a long looping right hand corner, which he sped round as fast as he could, before hitting another left hairpin, once more using the Mario Kart trick. He roared down the next, long straight, comfortably dealt with a slight right-curve before a meaty left-hander, then he was onto the circuit's longest straight.

It was flat-out, and the wind felt good, as did the roar of the engine. Steven was in his element now, embracing the barely contained fury of the kart. He stormed into a sloping left-hand curve, squeezed the brakes just a bit as he came around a tight right hairpin, easily negotiated a small right curve, then skidded round the final left hairpin and put the hammer down as he crossed the start-finish line.

Now he had to do it all over again. His exit-lap completed, he started his first qualifying lap. Only this time he both knew the track a little better, and had to careful of other karts just starting their out-lap. It was expected that all drivers respect each other and move out of the way to avoid interfering with a hot-lap, but Steven didn't know what to expect from a bunch of guys he'd never met. Nevertheless, the first couple of karts, who were trying but clearly not as fast as he was, moved out of the way to let Steven take the first couple of corners at full speed.

Around each corner he came, trying to find the perfect line. He was hungry for that pole position- to claim that on his first race would be amazing! Reaching the longest straight without a problem, Steven once more floored it.

Unfortunately, as he hit the left curve, he overdid it ever-so-slightly. The car's back end wobbled, and Steven cursed- he knew he'd lost a bit of time there. As he came around the final corner and crossed the line, he only had time for one more flying lap- so he had to make it count.

Instead, though he felt he'd been quick, Steven felt his final lap was a little unremarkable. As he crossed the line, he had no idea whether he'd gotten pole, or indeed where he'd end up. He put in a quick in-lap, wanting to be sure he had the measure of the track, before cruising back into the pits.

When he arrived back to his team, Peter was just pulling in as well. Rodger was waiting in the garage, and a man in sturdy blue overalls (which were covered in grease, which was also what his black hair looked like) and another guy (younger-looking, dressed the same but with a blue cap on and black skin) were both smiling. Rodger's own face was a mask- he was good at hiding his true feelings.

"Peter!" Rodger said as the two drivers climbed out of their karts. "Good effort son, seventh on the grid. Not too shabby. Top five get points so you're in with a real shout." His smile disappeared as he turned to face Steven, whose heart sank.

"Steve lad, what was that out there?" He spread his arms wide, as though pleading for an explanation. "I've never seen such a thing in all my days."

Steven felt sick. What had he done?

"You're starting third my boy. Third, on your debut! Play your cards right and you might even win!"

Steven was stunned into silence as the rest of the team gathered round him, punching their fists in delight.

 

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