“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”
Excerpt from The Indian
Vroom! Vroom! The racing of the engines was deafening. Vroom! Vroom! The two eager racers continued to rev their motorcycles in anticipation of their big challenge. It was a bright autumn afternoon and a great day for a race. Bob Schmitz, whom everyone at some time or another called Schmitty, stared at his opponent as he pulled his goggles down over his eyes as the race was about to begin. He yelled over to his challenger, Johnny, a neighborhood acquaintance, “Two laps,” as he stuck two fingers in the air as he most likely couldn’t be heard over the roar of the engines. Johnny nodded in agreement as they both looked over at the starter, George Martin, Schmitty’s buddy, who was standing on the track’s fence ready to give the go sign. He raised his hand then quickly dropped it and the two speedsters were off in a cloud of dust.
Schmitty was on his favorite 1932 Harley-Davidson, and Johnny, a 1930 Triumph. Both cycles were in top running condition as the two racers pampered them as if they were their most valuable possessions. The two cycles screamed down the straightaway toward the first turn, neck in neck with dust and debris flying in all directions, with neither rider backing away from the challenge - the reward for winning being bragging rights until their next race! The old Latonia Race Track, a thoroughbred racing venue, hadn’t seen this much action since it closed the previous year in 1939, a victim of the Great Depression. The racers laid their motorcycles down nearly on their side as they raced through the first turn and thundered down the backstretch. Neither was ever more than a wheel length ahead of the other as they sped side by side at break-neck speed.
As they negotiated the next turn they again laid their cycles down nearly to the ground to maximize their speed through the turn, hoping they wouldn’t hit a rock or soft patch on the abandoned track which would cause them to spin out. As they accelerated out of the turn, George stood on the rail yelling encouragement to Schmitty, who smiled while maintaining a transfixed look of determination in his eyes.
He barreled out of the turn faster than Johnny and began to pull in front as they both went hell bent for leather down the straightaway. Schmitty’s superior racing skills allowed him to gain ground on Johnny as they rocketed down the backstretch toward the final turn and eventually the finish line. By now, he was three lengths ahead and almost assured of a victory as they approached the final turn. Adrenaline rushed through him as he entered the turn before boring down the final straightaway. But midway through the turn the front wheel of his bike inexplicably veered sharply to the right causing it to hit the rail, catapulting him over its handlebars and onto the hardened dusty track, as Johnny sped by to the finish line. A shocked George jumped over the fence and ran to his fallen friend’s aid.