Around the two machines swung, the yellow car having given up and dropped out. There was a confused shouting from the spectators, and Bob could distinguish cheers for the red auto.
“We’ve just got to win!” he cried. “Win, Jerry! Win!”
Try as he did, by “nursing” the engine, Jerry could not gain an inch on Noddy’s car. The red machine was fifty feet behind the green one, both going at top speed. Only an accident, it seemed, could make the motor boys win.
As they swung into the last lap Ned cried:
“Noddy isn’t going to slow down for the turn!”
“Neither are we!” cried Jerry fiercely. “Quick boys! All of you get out on the inside step! Crouch down! That will help hold us as we go around the bank, or, otherwise, we’ll go over.”
They all knew what he meant. By hanging out on the runboard or step, nearest the inside of the track, more weight would be added to that side of the car. It was what automobilists call “shifting the center of gravity,” and aids in preventing spills.
Giving one glance to see that the boys were in their places, Jerry grasped the steering wheel firmly, and sent the car at the dangerous turn at full speed. Noddy was doing the same, but he had not thought of having any of his passengers hang out on the step.
“Look out now, boys!” called Jerry, as they took the turn.
“Swing out as far as you can, boys, but hang down low!” called Tom Jennings, who had been in races before.
Even with this precaution, and aided as they were by the chains on the rear wheels, the red car skidded or slewed so that Jerry thought it was going over. But it did not. By the narrowest margin it kept on the bank.
Not so, however, with Noddy’s green dragon. As soon as his car struck the turn it began to skid. He would not shut off his power, but kept on the high gear, and with the engine going at top speed.
There was a cry of alarm, and then the green car left the track, mounted the bank, slid over the top, and came to a halt in a pool of mud and water on the other side of the field. It went fifty yards before Noddy could stop it.
“Go on! Go on!” yelled Ned. “We win! We win!”
Jerry had all he could do to hold the steering wheel of his slewing car, but, by gripping it desperately, he swung it into place, and the red machine started up the home stretch, crossing the tape a winner, for it was the only car left on the track.
A burst of cheers greeted it, and men crowded up to shake hands with the plucky boys.
“Glad you beat the ‘mud lark,’” said the owner of the yellow machine, thus giving Noddy’s car a name that stuck to it for some time. “That Nixon chap thought he was going to walk over every one. You taught him a much-needed lesson.”
Nothing was talked of in the hotel that night but the race, and the motor boys were the heroes of the occasion. Noddy did not appear, and it was learned that he had to hire men and teams to get his car out of the mud.