"Ridiculous!" he protested. "The penalty should be against the
Maxwells for having hogged the road." The tour officials did not agree with
him, however, and he lost round one to his opponents.
The next time the
Stevens-Duryeas came upon the Maxwells, it was late afternoon on a mountain
road just south of Roanoke. It was raining, as usual, and the situation
screamed for caution. But the possibility of letting the Maxwells hog the road
a second time was unthinkable to a man of my father's temperament. I could all
but see the hairs begin to bristle on the back of his neck.
While Mr. Young
vigorously pumped the bulb on our horn, Dad gave our engine the gun.
Determinedly, skillfully—and miraculously—he and one of his teammates
maneuvered past their rivals and down the road to our next check-in post.
But where was our
third member? Precious minutes were ticking by, other cars were checking in and
still there was no sign of him. Dad was pacing the floor of the hotel lobby,
while Mother and I sat watching him and the door, longing only for the bliss of
our own rooms and a hot tub.
My father almost
had a stroke when the Maxwell gang came breezing in. They started to speak to
him, then apparently thought better of it and turned toward a group of their
friends. Dad consulted the official timekeeper. Then he jerked the muddy helmet
from his head and angrily threw it onto the floor. "Confound it!" he
exclaimed. "Here goes another penalty against our team."
later, while we were still in the lobby, tired, dirty and now definitely
apprehensive, the offending crew arrived.
Dad pounced on
the already dazed driver. "Well," he shouted, "what happened to
you? Were you afraid to pass the Maxwells again?"
friend replied, "I passed them all right, but I went into a skid as I
approached that flimsy plank bridge we had to cross. It is only by the grace of
God that we weren't all killed. The guardrail split in two as we crashed
against it. Luckily, we bounced off of it instead of going through it."
delayed you?" Dad inquired sardonically.
"We landed in
the ditch on the other side of the bridge," the poor, weary man explained.
"If one of the Pierce Arrows hadn't been in the same predicament I suppose
we'd be there still. It took the lot of us to get both cars back onto the