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Simpson Sets a New Record

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Drag Racing

Simpson Sets a New Record

Hot Rods and Racing Cars Issue #2
January 1952


Simpson Sets a New Record Simpson Sets a New Record
Jack Simpson was so busy working on the adjustments he was making on the carburetor that he hardly heard the door of his garage open and close. The thin middle-aged man who had been racing autos for a quarter of a century simply thought it was his mechanic, Ben Calish.

"About time you came in, Ben. I think I got the problem licked. The way I figure it out is that the trouble has been with the carburetor, and when I get it working the way I want, you can bet your bottom dollar some more speed records are going to be broken."

"The name isn't Ben," said an unfamiliar voice. "And if you can spare a few minutes from that car of yours, I think I have a proposition that might be of interest to you."

The famous racer placed the carburetor on his work bench and then looked at his uninvited guest, a heavy-set ugly man who looked as if he should have been carrying a set of burglar tools. But Jack Simpson was courteous in his reply.

"There's nothing I want to buy. Hope you don't think I'm rude. Just have a lot of work to do. Next week I'm racing on the flats in Utah and I want to get this car in top shape."

The stranger ignored the clever brush-off. He walked closer to the car and looked at that tiny energy-packed Marvel Motor. Then he came right to the point.

"I got ten thousand dollars in my wallet that would like to change ownership. It can be yours in less than five minutes if you will listen to my story and see if you like the proposition. After all, it doesn't cost cash to give me your ears and see what I got to offer."

There was something in the man's voice that warned Jack he had better watch his step. Yet, as a normal human being, he wanted to hear what the stranger had to say. Curiosity gets all of us.

"O.K. mister. Have your say if it will make you feel any better. Then when you are finished I would appreciate it if you would let me continue my work."

"The name is Joe Kram," began the man. "Maybe it means something to you and maybe it doesn't. Francois Martino at present holds the record of 119.01 miles per hour which he set in 1949 in his Le Fencier. Just don't break that record and all this dough is yours."

There was a bewildered look on the face of Jack Simpson. He began to wrinkle his forehead as though he were trying to make sense out of what he had just heard.

"I'm not exactly an innocent babe out of the woods," he answered slowly as though measuring each word he spoke, "and I have seen a lot of queer things in my lifetime. And I've met gamblers all over the world. Honest and crooked ones. But this makes no sense to me. Why in the name of blazes should someone want to pay not to break Martino's record? Brother, I have heard of the fix in some sports, but this is impossible. If it's some kind of gag get out of here."

Joe Kram took his wallet from his hip pocket and opened it. The bill compartment was overstuffed. He fingered a few bills and then replaced the wallet in his pocket.

"I'm the type of gambler who bets on anything. Last week I was out in Denver and met an old friend of mine, Pete Gazinki. People were talking about auto racing. Pete offered to bet me one hundred grand you would beat Martino's record with your car. I took him up on it. Well since then I have been doing a little checking up and find you got a good chance to break that record. I want to protect my investment. Well, what's your answer?"

Jack turned slightly on his right foot and brought up his hand so that it contacted the gambler's chin. You could hear the thud as flesh met flesh.

"I got a meat grinder in the house," he warned, "and if you aren't off my property in two second flat I'll drop you into it and feed what comes out to the pigs."

Ten minutes later Ben Calish appeared in the garage. He looked at his boss' hand and saw it was swollen. He shook his head from side to side.

"Of all the times to hurt your hand, Jack," he complained. "You oughta see a doctor and do it in a hurry. I'll take care of the car. Looks like a bad job was worked on your hand."

Dr. William Graham studied the X-ray very carefully. Then he placed it on his desk and gave his verdict.

"I can't spot a fracture. Seems to me that what you did was to injure a nerve center. You better not try driving that car of yours on the flats. The vibration might play havoc with your hand."

It wasn't a very cheerful man who left the doctor's office. As he walked down the street, he heard a newsboy shout the old familiar "Extra." To his surprise the youngster came up to him and handed him a copy of the paper. He read the blazing headlines:

"Jack Simpson Turns Down Big Bribe."

Then he continued reading two columns in detail of how a bribe had been offered to him, how he had refused it, and the terrific smack he had given to the man. He was somehow puzzled as to the manner in which the paper had obtained the story.

Back in his garage he checked over every inch of his racer with his mechanic. Not a weak spot was there in the car that has been rightly christened Marvel Motor. And the mechanic was happy.

"We'll ship her out to Utah and you are going to break the class record. Hope that hand of yours doesn't bother you too much. Guess we won't have too much of a crowd to watch us."

But Ben Calish was a bad guesser this time. Thousands of people were there to see the attempt to break the record. Frank Delaney, one of the officials, and in charge of timing, was puzzled.

"The only explanation I can give is that the headlines in the paper attracted them. Do they really like racing autos or it is just that peculiar element in human nature that brought them here?"

Jack Simpson had to lie in almost a prone position in the glass hooded cockpit of his car. He made two trial runs and everything was going smoothly. Then he brought the car to a stop. Now he was going to break the record. The arm still hurt him and he was conscious of the nervous reactions.

"Here I go," he shouted as his mechanic finished checking over the tires. "Offering me a bribe to keep my speed down. Somebody is nuts and I'm not the fellow."

Across those sunbaked salt flats he went in his car. Once it seemed as though he had lost control of the car and there would be a terrible tragedy. That was when his nerves began to react on him. And then, somehow, the pain was gone. Perhaps it was a slight jar that did it. At the time of one hour elapsed he stopped his car and heard the results from the lips of Frank Delaney.

"You just set a one hour international record of 137.4 miles per hour. Thought you were even going faster. Anything go wrong?"

"Had a plugged oil line," explained the racer, " and hence was afraid to push the car to the limit. Bet I could have made 150 with the way I fixed that carburetor."

The officials handed Jack a small silver cup. He was about to make a speech of thanks when a beautiful girl handed him a gigantic silver cup. Upon it were engraved the words, "To an Honest and Game Driver." The officials were as mystified as Jack about that second cup. Who had presented it?

Two weeks later Jack Simpson decided to get to the bottom of things. He went to the newspaper office and landed in the private quarters of Louis Kalstein, special feature writer. And one look at the still bandaged face told him he was also looking at Joe Kram.

"I can explain things before you hit the ceiling," said the reporter. "It was a gag. Back in the days of the Greeks they looked for an honest man. And you can still find them today. Of course it also helped to get the crowd to see you drive. And the paper sent you the loving cup. If you want to beef, do it now."

But instead the driver laughed. "I'm not a youngster. At my age there are men retired from all activity. I was wondering whether I was losing my skill when you got me so mad. Yes sir, I am thankful to you. I broke the record with a temporarily bad arm."

—THE END—

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