“Who?” asked Ned.
“Noddy Nixon. If that’s his car, we haven’t any show.”
“Humph! I’m afraid not,” answered Jerry rather ruefully. “Still, I’m not going to give up now. He’s got a new car, but maybe we can beat him. He’s a poor driver.”
Several other autos soon appeared on the track to have a “tryout,” and, though none of them seemed as speedy as Noddy’s new machine, there was no talk of dropping out on the part of those who had entered. That gave the boys more courage, and they decided to stick, even though their chances were not good.
Noddy did not speak to them, though he passed them several times. Nor did he appear very popular with the other autoists. He had several young men with him, and they made things rather lively about the hotel, occasionally giving what seemed to be college yells.
“They’re regular ‘rah-rah’ boys,” said Bob, in contempt.
Early that afternoon just before the race Bob, Jerry and Ned spent an hour in going over their car, making some adjustments, and seeing that the tires were in good shape. Almost at the last minute Jerry decided to put the non-skidding chains on the rear wheels.
“Those turns, which are not banked much, are dangerous,” he said, “I’m not going to take any chances. We don’t want to turn turtle.”
There was much activity about the hotel as the hour for the contest arrived. Noddy’s car seemed the finest of the six that lined up at the starting tape. The motor boys had drawn a position next to the bully and his cronies.
Noddy glanced contemptuously at them.
“You must think it’s winter, putting chains on,” he remarked to Jerry, who had been chosen to steer.
“It may be a cold day for somebody before we get through,” was all Jerry replied.
“You haven’t the ghost of a show,” called one of Noddy’s companions. “You’ll think you’re standing still when we start.”
The others laughed at this joke, and Noddy seemed pleased. There was a short consultation among the judges and other officials, and, a moment later, a white puff of smoke was seen hovering above the uplifted revolver of the starter. Then came a sharp crack, and the panting machines, the engines of which had been put in motion some time previous, started off together, as the drivers threw in the high speed gears.
The race, which was truly a dangerous contest, was on, and, with eager eyes the motor boys looked ahead on the course.
NEWS from the west
The track was a half-mile one, and, as the length of the race was five miles it would be necessary to make ten laps or circuits. The course was in the shape of an ellipse, with rather sharp turns at either end, where the contestants, if they did not want a spill, or a bad skid, must slacken their pace. It was on the two straight stretches that speed could be made.