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- The Motor Boys on the Pacific - 4/31 -
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.
At the report of the pistol Noddy's car shot off as an arrow from a bow, the explosions of the cylinders sounding like a small battery of quick-firing guns in action. But the others were after him, the five cars bunched together, that of the motor boys a little behind the other four.
"We've got to catch him, Jerry," whispered Bob.
"Easier said than done," replied Jerry, as he shoved the gasolene lever over a trifle, and advanced the spark, thereby increasing the speed of the car. "Noddy's got a powerful machine."
"They should have had a handicap on this race," said Tom Jennings, the young man whom the hotel clerk had asked to be a fourth passenger in the motor boys' car, so that the conditions of the contest would be met. "It's not fair to have a high power auto race one of two cylinders."
"Ours has four," spoke Ned. "Of course its not as up-to-date as Noddy's is, but--"
"We'll beat him!" exclaimed Bob. "We've done it before and we can do it again."
"I'm afraid not," went on Tom. "That big green car of his will go ahead of anything on this track."
And so it seemed, for Noddy was spinning around the course at fearful speed, his car looking like a green streak.
"Let's see how he takes the turn," suggested Bob. "He'll have to slow up if he doesn't want a spill."
Noddy was wise enough to do this, though even at the reduced speed at which he went around the bank, his rear wheels skidded rather alarmingly.
But Jerry was not idle during this time. As he found his car responding to the increase of gasolene and the advanced spark, he shoved the levers still further over. The auto shot forward, distancing the yellow car immediately in front of it, passing one with an aluminum body and closely approaching a purple auto which was behind Noddy.
Suddenly a loud explosion sounded back of the motor boys.
"There goes a tire!" exclaimed Bob.
"Hope it isn't one of yours," said Tom.
"If it was you'd be sliding along the track on your face instead of sitting here," responded Bob. "No, it's one on the aluminum car. She's out of the race," he added as he gave a quick glance back. A few minutes later there was another noise-- a crashing sound-- and the motor boys, by a quick glance, saw that the rearmost car in the race had, by injudicious steering, been sent through a frail fence which surrounded the track. The radiator was broken and, though no one was hurt the car was put out of business. That left but four cars-- Noddy's green one, the yellow, the red one of the motor boys', and a purple affair. They were speeding along in that order, and, a few seconds later something went wrong with one of the cylinders of the purple machine, leaving but three contestants. Then the yellow car shot ahead of the red one containing the motor boys.
By this time one circuit of the track had been completed, and a start made on the second lap.
"Think we're catching up?" asked Bob, as Jerry cautiously fed the engine a little more gasolene.
"Well, we're holding our own," was the answer of the steersman, "and I think we're catching up to the yellow car again. If we pass that I'm not so sure but what we can come in a close second to Noddy."
"I don't want to come in second," spoke up Ned. "I want to beat him."
"So do I," replied Jerry, "but it's not going to be so easy. Our car's doing well, but we can't expect wonders of it."
"The race isn't over until you're at the finish tape," said Tom Jennings. "Keep on, boys, I'd like to see that Nixon chap beaten. He thinks he owns the earth."
For two miles there was no change in the position of the cars. Then slowly, very slowly, Jerry saw that his red machine was overtaking the yellow car. Inch by inch it crept up, the steersman of the rival car doing his best but failing to get more speed out of the engine.
"Too bad we have to pass you!" cried Jerry, as he careened past the yellow machine.
"That's all right," sung out the steersman good-naturedly. "Beat that other one, if you can."
"We're going to try!" yelled Ned, above the noise of the exploding cylinders.
They were on a straight stretch then and, as Noddy looked back and saw the red car closer to him than it had been before, he put on more speed. His green auto shot forward but Jerry still had something in reserve, and he let his machine out another notch.
"He's got to slow up for the turn!" cried Ned. "Maybe we can pass him!"
"Yes, but we've got to slacken up too, if we don't want a spill," replied Bob.
"That's so," admitted Ned.
Noddy did slow up, but not much, and his car skidded worse than at any time yet. It looked as if it was going over, and a cry from the spectators showed that they, too, anticipated this disaster. But, with a sharp wrench of the steering wheel, Noddy brought the car back toward the center of the track.
Jerry swung around the turn at reduced speed, and, because of the chains, his machine did not skid more than a few inches.
"Good thing you have those chains on," commented Tom. "They may come in handy at the finish."
"That's what I put them there for," answered Jerry.
For another mile there was little change in the relative position of the cars of Noddy and the motor boys. Jerry thought he had cut the bully's lead somewhat, but he still felt that he was far from having a good chance to win the race. Still, he was not going to give up.
"Two laps more and it's all over," said Bob, as they began on the final mile. "Can't you hit it up a bit more, Jerry?"
Just a degree faster came the explosions of the cylinders of the red car. But also, still faster, came the reports from Noddy's auto. He was not going to be beaten if he could help it.
Around the two machines swung, the yellow car having given up and dropped out. There was a confused shouting from the spectators, and
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