The car he'd designed this year (and built) was as different from his original '52 model as a Jaguar is from a Jeep. Different, also, in just about the same ways. His '52 model had been on the squarish, wind-resisting side and had been propelled by plain old wagon wheels. In it, he found himself out of the money in the first heat. But next year, the new Vogel was much more streamlined and Carl lasted as far as the third Woodstock heat. So things were looking up.
This year Carl was 14. That meant in one year he'd be as completely through in Akron (official rules again) as DiMag is in the stadium. He didn't fool around. He went down to the public library and got a book on streamline designs. He studied it as diligently as the one on algebra. This car he really set out to streamline to the last little ripple.
Down in his basement he took the floor board he'd bought, cut it to fit the design he'd worked out in his head and on paper. Next came the body bulkheads; then installation of steering system; then brakes. He painted it blue, with silver aluminum on top. Two months it took in all—evenings and weekends. Result: the Vogel 7-11.
So the big moment of the big day finally came. He won't forget it soon: Sunday, August 15; time: 2 p.m. The luck of the draw put him at the starting line of topside on the speedway, along with Phil Peckham from Madison, Wise, and Larry Tracy from St. Catherine, Ont. His helmeted head was in the soapboxer's traditional crouch, nose against the metal baffle plate that drops when the starting lever is released. Then—the great big swoosh! Past 50 to 60 thousand full-throated fans from just about every neck of North America.
That brief dash down was the end of three years of study, work and competition for Carl. A fast traveler named Dick Kemp from Los Angeles wound up 150 places in front of him. Dick went home with a $5,000 college scholarship and Carl went home with his train fare free. But both gave it all, and Carl would be the last to deny that the flyingest car won.
It wasn't really until the 10th heat that Carl showed he'd already taken a fairly important fact of life in good stride. That was when he suddenly lost the dazed look, stood up and yelled as three more of the four-wheeled bugs came whizzing down the Derby turnpike.
"Come on, Pat!" Carl yelled. "Come on, Pat!"
It was a kind of weak yell, but a yell. And with it, the designer of the Vogel 7-11 showed he was sitting right where he belonged—that section of Derby Downs labeled: CHAMPIONS ONLY.