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"Sure you could," he said.
"Uh, how fast?"
Mickey waved airily. "Oh, we're not going to go fast." he said. "We're going to go steady. The idea is to drive 24 hours, see, and get both speed and endurance records. You've been out on the salt flats many times. You could do it, easy."
That old demon pride took over. I squared my shoulders and drew up to my full height. "Sure I can," I said. "I've been out on the salt flats many times. I could do it, easy."
"That's just what I said," said Mickey.
And that is how, a few weeks later, we were standing out on the salt flats near the Utah-Nevada border, looking at this festive yellow Mustang with my name on the door. Misspelled. But the color was right.
Mickey had signed four drivers for the three cars: Mickey himself and a slender, handsome 26-year-old named Danny Ongais, who were both professionals. Then there was Ray Brock, who is the publisher of Hot Rod magazine, and me. Brock has built, driven, tested and even raced cars for years. His magazine is strictly for knowledgeable auto buffs, and it carries articles with such titles as Turbo Hydro Shift Control. Brock is a very tough, yet strangely gentle, man, built along the lines of a much bigger Harmon Killebrew, and he has gigantic, furry forearms. When he talks his voice sounds like it is coming from a cave.
Mickey gathered us around for a driver meeting. "Now here is what we're going to do," he said. "We're going to drive in shifts, about two hours on and two hours off, see, for 24 hours. It calls for superfast pit stops. Change drivers, add more fuel and away you go." He looked down at me. I was standing in Brock's shadow to escape the sun. "I don't know what the hell we are going to do when Ottum and Brock change," he said. "Tell you what: Ray will come boiling out of the car, see, and Ottum will jump in. And we'll slap a big pillow across Ottum's lap to take up the slack in the seat belts."
"Aww, Mick," I said, "a pillow, for crissakes?"
"Well...uhh, well, I suppose we'll just have to take the time to tighten the goddam belts down to half their size for you. But, then, when Ray gets back in we'll have to loosen them all the way again."