Novac's Race

Early morning fog shrouds the Brooklands race track as Jack takes a new pair of goggles from his track bag. He breaks a cigarette in half and shreds the tobacco. He spits in the goggles and rubs the tobacco around the inside of the lenses.

The fog lifts a little, and Jack signals Carl to crank over the car. He pulls on his cloth helmet and grins at Carl. The engine temperature comes up and he pulls out.

The whole track is still not visible. Some of the men Jack sees on his way to the banking are making the slashing sign across their necks.

They mean cut the run, do not go out. Jack waves back to them.

Out on the track, Jack pulls around the cars that are running to keep the line dry. He motions them to pull in. Two more laps to check and make sure everyone else is off the track. Then comes the boom from the exhaust, Jack is hard on it down the straights. For two more laps, he takes a long lift off the throttle going into the turns.

The men watching are looking at each other as if to say I told you. Then Jack flashes by, a rolling fog envelops the racetrack, and just as suddenly lifts. The throttle lifts are getting shorter each lap. Then the exhaust note does not change. The same men look at each other and solemnly shake their heads. To themselves they think, the Yank just does not learn.

The next lap the car is like a ghost in the mist. Another lap with the engine screaming, the car flashes by like an apparition. Out of the mist, and then swallowed up by it. The engine’s scream does not die this time.

The loudspeaker system barks to life. “Ladies and gentlemen, a new Brooklands outright record,” the announcer says. “The speed is One hundred and forty two point five miles an hour. Brooklands presents another amazing performance. The Yank has done it!”

Jack brings the car down the finishing straight. The people that have braved the weather are clapping their hands above their heads for him to see. Others are cheering and waving, their thumbs raised.

The car stops in front of Carl who makes a wiping motion across his brow. Jack bounds from the car, he is clearly jubilant. He returns the waves, grabs Carl’s hand, and pumps it vigorously.

“I heard the loud speaker system when I shut the engine off. One forty two and change eh, not bad. The engine was turning 83 hundred, she was haulin’ freight.”

“Jack, you’re one crazy bastard, I don’t know how you did it. Hell, I don’t know why you did it.”

Jack Novac, Indy 500 winner, plans a new assault for the 1934 championship with his two fabulous Miller front drive race cars. Then the rules change and his Millers are not eligible. A retired Army General steps in offering to sponsor Jack on a barnstorming tour of Europe. The General sees Jack’s show as a perfect cover for gaining access to manufacturing plants in Italy and Germany. His mission is to scrutinize the industrial capabilities of the countries that could become future enemies. Jack is unwillingly drawn into the intrigues brewing in pre-war Europe. Jack, with the aid of his mechanic, Carl, breaks Europe’s speed records, drawing record crowds. But murder and espionage seem to follow them wherever they go. The General keeps the men busy while he tries to uncover military secrets. His effort to dig out classified information ultimately succeeds in kicking open a Nazi hornet’s nest. In Monte Carlo the wife of a high-ranking Nazi, Baron Von Steuben, disappears. Jack becomes the baron’s target for revenge. Everyone but Jack is sure he’s a spy. In Italy, Jack puts on more speed demonstrations, while the General goes about his spying. At a gala parade to show off Ferrari’s racing Alfa Romeo’s, Jack narrowly escapes an assassination attempt only to run afoul of a Mafia Don. Carl and Jack grow anxious to finish the tour and go home. The idea was to tour Europe and make money, so Jack stages a duel with Ferrari’s Alfas on the high banked Monza oval. He bets the monies he has won on the tour on Carl’s meticulous preparation of the Miller. With all the odds against them, Jack tells Carl he’ll win or stick the car in the wall trying. Jack thrills the crowds while racing to stay one step ahead of dying.
Passion is a sustaining element in my life. Passion for living, for producing good work, and for expanding my abilities. After a forty-year career of professionally racing sports cars, writing became a passion. As an avid follower of American history and early auto racing, I have combined the two in my novels.