Friday, July 06, 2007
JT's Ratrod Sprite - a work of slot fiction
To get into the right mood for this journey back in time, put on your Dickie's workshirt, slick back your hair and shake out a pack of Luckys...then click here!
Early summer, 1967. Essex, Massachusetts
25 miles north of Boston, behind a small lumberyard at the edge of the Essex tidal marshes, a local carpenter revs the engine of his modified Austin Healy Sprite, its raspy buzzing fading over the clam flats. Next to the car, an awkward trailer is wedged in up against the marsh grass. Hastily converted from a borrowed boat trailer with 2x10s and U-bolts, the trailer looks as rough as the revving Sprite. The carpenter steps back, his blue work shirt and red neckerchief also stained, and surveys his primered car and makeshift trailer. Neither is complete, but time has run out. The races begn this week.
"Man - its finally done. Or as done as its going to get if I I'm going to the race on time. Not the fanciest race car I ever saw, that's for sure. Heck, its probabaly the rattiest! Didn't even have time to paint it, bondo and patches and scratches in all their glory. Probably saved some weight though. That Lotus guy - Chapman - he'd be proud. I just hope this car doesn't fall apart right after the finish line - there's too many races to go!
Those numbers are athletic tape (hope no one at the firehouse over there misses the roll). I used some boat letters for the class "FP" but they didn't have enough at the marina, so I cut up the PENNZOIL decal that I got from Larry at the gas station last night to make the hood class letters! Coulda been straighter, but it was late and pretty dark. Well, if they don't let me run with the other "big" Sprites (Big?! 1295 cc, there's probably motorcycles with bigger engines) it'll be easy enough to modify. And that's probably where they'll put me, with the modifieds.
Sure its modified, what do they expect? It's not like I can walk into a dealer and say "Give me a racing this or a competition that." I've got to make the parts I need or make do. Hot rod spirit. SoCal Speed, Ol' Yaller, Mickey Thompson. So what if the wheels are a little bit big, and the cam's a bit hot? Too **** many rules. What's the point of racing if you can't make the car go fast?
Got rid of most of the trim, bumpers, windscreen, roof, interior. If you want em, they're right over there in the grass. Built a new gas tank. Flared the wheel wells - just a bit! Took out a headlight and made it an air scoop for the Solex. Made the tonneau cover out of some old sail canvas painted black. The chassis, is shall we say, tweaked, just like the motor. Gotta have good, light wheels. Dinged up the front one though, but banged it out. Dressiest part of this car, I even painted the rim red. Hot rod.
Well, I'm off. Beats hammering nails for the week. Wish me luck."
The previous piece of slot car fiction was written by JT Previa as a back story for his entry into the Vintage Race Across America proxy race and was originally published here on Slot Car Illustrated.com.