One day as he was driving past the Tri-City Raceway, Curt noticed street cars going around the track. Woods had to assume that some teenagers had broken through the gates and made their way onto the track.
As he drove through the open gate he observed that it showed no signs of damage and as he got closer to the inside he could see that the track clock was on.
He drove to the center of the track and found a small group of teenagers that made no attempt to flee as he approached.
When he stopped his car they came over.
“Hi guys. What’s going on,” Curt asked.
“I’m Stan Meehan, My dad owns the track and he’s let us bring our cars out to see who can get the best time,” responded one of the boys.
“Well that sounds like more fun than humanly possible,” said Curt. “You go at it one at a time and just let the track timer figure out who goes around the fastest? So let me see who has the best time?”
The boys got excited to share, “Bobby has the best time so far at thirty two seconds with his Camaro. But Jason and Kyle are only one tenth of a second behind him. They have the Charger and the Mustang.”
Curt got out of his car and went to look over the cars. None of the cars were stock. The rear ends were jacked slightly to accommodate larger tires on the back. He knew that even with beefed up engines these cars weren’t going to do that well on the tri-oval track. They were better suited for drag racing in a straight line on a flat track. The tri-oval was steeply banked and built for beefed up suspensions and cars with a lower center of gravity.
“Mind if I watch,” asked Woods.
“Hell no,” said Stan. “Who’s up next?”
“Chuck,” said Bobby pointing at 1970 Buick Skylark.
Woods walked over to the car. Again the rear end had been jacked slightly with the use of air shocks and it had wider rear tires than stock. “What have you got under the hood Chuck,” asked Curt.
Chuck was all too happy to pop the hood and show off his 350 V8 with chrome valve covers and a four barrel carburetor. “Very nice,” said Curt. “Let’s see what you can do. But for the love of god don’t wreck it.”
Chuck slammed the hood down and jumped in behind the wheel. He pulled out onto the track as the others cheered him on.
Woods watched the Skylark go around the track three times and saw the automatic track timer readout the time for each lap. Chuck then pulled the car back into the center of the track. His best time had been within a couple tenths of thirty two seconds. As the young man got out of his car the boys all gathered around with excitement.
Curt joined them and said, “Well you guys have a good day, I’ve got to be getting back to work.” He then started walking back to his patrol vehicle.
But Stan wasn’t having it. “Before you go officer, could you show us what you can do in the patrol car?”
“Naw, I don’t want to make you boys feel bad. Your having a good time. Let’s just leave it at that,” said Curt.
“So, you don’t think you can beat our time,” Stan taunted smiling.
Woods smiled, “Something you boys need to realize is that if I’m ever chasing you, I don’t have to beat you. All I have to do is stay with you and come in second. The other thing you need to know is that these patrol cars are built to do just that. Add to that the fact that police officers drive their patrol cars eight hours a day. When you drive a vehicle that much eventually it becomes like a part of your body. That’s why truck drivers can handle their eighteen wheelers so well. You guys are having a great time and more fun than I ever had at your age. I don’t want to ruin that for you.”
Curt got back behind the wheel and started the patrol car. The young men gathered around his door and begged him to give it a go.
“Alright, fine,” said Woods. “But remember, you asked for it. I’ll go around once to get a feel for the track. Time me on the second lap.”
“You got it,” answered Stan as the other boys hollered with excitement. They were all curious to know how close he would come to their times.
Curt drove onto the track and checked out the high banked corners. The first time around he was feeling where the car and his tires were at their drifting limit. The patrol car had wider tires, a beefier suspension and a center of gravity that was about three feet below ground level. Warming up his tires and getting a feel for the track. The second time around he put the patrol car in a full drift for the entire lap. He went around a third time while he slowed down and pulled into the center of the track.
The boys were stunned to silence. Their best times had all been within tenths of a second. Woods had beat their best time on the half mile track by several seconds. Curt then smiled and nodded as he drove out the gate.
Want more stories like this check out the book The Chief Is Missing which is available in audio for those of us that don’t have time to sit down and read.