Why would you want to become a race driver? Why would you even do anything competitive? What are you trying to prove? Are you that competitive, and how, where and whom do you pick to compete with? This story will leave you thinking about these questions and more. The Sole Track is about a veteran race driver who is about to take part in a race that may change his life, or yours.
The Sole Track
The stands filled with people eager to watch the race. Some even came here early in the morning from all the country to watch these aspiring drivers race against each other in one of the most prestigious race tracks in the world. This event would always attract the lead scouts of all the top motorsport teams from the least significant competitions to Formula One.
Each of the drivers had a fan base, but no one enjoyed the huge fan base of Ramon the Bullet. It was his twentieth year in this competition, and Ramon had broken all previous records by winning twelve times. No other driver came close to that number. Ramon knew this track like the back of his hand. When you look at the man’s forty-five-year-old face, the little wrinkles might fool you into thinking you are not looking in the face of a champion. All other drivers stood little chance if any at all against this giant race driver.
Ramon was in the garage inspecting his car for the tenth time today. His focus was bent on winning the race as he knew he would not have many more years to keep his performance at such a prominent level, so he wanted to make the most of it while he could. He was checking the engine when his friend Patrick came and whispered in his ear,
“This new guy, Michael is supposed to be the best of the whole new pack this year. Some people say he might have been the new Schumacher.”
Ramon kept on looking at the engine, and then he pulled a cloth and rubbed his hands clean of the grease. He looked at Patrick with a dubious smile and said,
“Isn’t that what you said about Samuel Herbert last year? About Tyler Smith the year before? Why do you think I should be terrified this year?”
“No need to get angry, man. Stay focused, but just to remind you, Samuel and Tyler are leading the Formula One drivers’ championship this year. I could have been as good a scout as any of these big shots lining up in the VIP boxes looking for the next best driver. I always know the best even before the race is on. Anyway, how’s the car doing?”
“She’s ready to roll like thunder, as always my friend.”
“Sounds great. Listen, Ramon. I have known you for twenty years, and I have never doubted your skills, but I want you to keep an eye on this Michael guy I told you about, ok. Just do it for me.”
“All right, Patrick. I will be as careful as always. No one is beating me today.”
The drivers started the warm-up lap, and then they all lined up to start the race. Michael was fourth on the starting line, three places behind Ramon.
The race started with the thundering noise of the cars speeding up as fast as they could, and the drivers all dashed towards the first turn where everyone tries to move ahead a position or two. However, they were all very careful because this turn was also called the debris turn for most of the accidents at the first lap happened right there. Ramon had nothing to worry about. He was in the first place, he dashed forward and had no worries about keeping the lead in this busy first lap.
There were no severe casualties in the first lap; it was just two drivers who were competing for the last couple of places who had a small accident, which wasn’t dangerous, yet it forced them to give up the race.
Ramon finished his tenth lap with no worries neither about that Michael guy, nor about anybody else. He had a substantial lead of ten seconds ahead of the second driver, Michael who passed the two drivers ahead and had but one big obstacle left between him and his first big win in the world of motorsport racing.
Ramon was a pro, and he was never complacent, for he still remembered when he came in second once when he underestimated his competitor who overtook him on the last lap just before the final turn. Yet that was ten years ago, and Ramon has learned not to make the same mistake again.
Ramon was getting ready for the pit stop; he had a strategy of only one pit stop, but he had no worries as he had a comfortable lead by twenty seconds ahead of Michael and the rest of the pack. The mechanics were ready and waiting when Ramon entered the pit lane and stopped the car. They were like busy bees around the car changing the tires and filling the car with enough gas to complete the race. Then something wrong happened. Ramon couldn’t hear the engine running anymore. The engine went dead, and the precious seconds were passing. Ramon could do nothing about it, and that new mechanic was a complete disaster. It took him too long to restart the car and set Ramon back on the track. That fateful pitstop took Ramon 63 seconds and moved him away from the lead.
When he rejoined the race, Ramon was seventh. After a few laps when all the drivers in front of him made their pitstops, Ramon was still fourth, and that Michael boy was first now. Ramon was not a quitter and if he could not prove himself worthy of winning this race on this track, who else could?
He drove like an insane maniac, but it was that kind of crazy driving only Ramon could pull off. Any other driver would have gone off the track or caused an accident, but not Ramon. He passed his way all up to the second place with only five seconds between him and Michael, but there was a problem. There were only three laps left. Ramon used up the last bits of his tires, which were wriggling in the air in front of him like sea waves now. They could explode at any moment, and car handling was becoming a nightmare. Driving the car in those last three laps was like trying to ride an angry bull. Ramon closed the gap to three seconds with two laps to go, one second with one lap to go. Then all his life was bound to this last lap of the race.
The spectators and scouts were watching what was happening, and they were all mesmerized by the impossible driving skills of Ramon. Many turns were to be his last in this race, or to some in this life, but Ramon endured. No one was worried as Patrick was. He felt guilty of telling Ramon about Michael, which made Ramon even more determined to win the race.
Ramon took the largest leaps of faith in his driving abilities and his car’s capability to hold on and not break apart. He could smell Michael’s sweat from where he was now. He had two turns to go and just like a hungry tiger, Ramon was just waiting for the right time to strike. The first turn, there was a small window, but Ramon saw the risk of hitting Michael’s car and driving it off track, so he halted just long enough to let Michael pass, but he didn’t lose a millisecond doing that. There came the final turn and the last chance for Ramon to win the race. He fooled the young green Michael with a move he thought Ramon would overtake him on from outside part of the turn. As Michael moved a little to the right to block, Ramon came in like a bullet from the inside and dashed to the finish line with a slim lead of just a few milliseconds achieving the greatest victory of his entire career and the most exciting race this track had ever seen.
The fans crowded in front of the podium as Ramon stepped on to take his thirteenth trophy breaking his own record and setting the bar too high for anyone who might try to break this record in the near or the far future. Michael won second place, and another new guy called Nigel was in third place.
The champagne bottles popped, and a crazy sense of excitement was all over the place. The scouts’ eyes were glittering with opportunities and potential drivers they had already made calls about and made their initial offers ready. All were waiting for the top three drivers to step down from the podium, and some had already extended very generous offers to the other drivers who could not make it to the top three. The reporters were stalking the scouts to get scoops of young drivers who were about to enter the big world of Formula One racing, or the less lucky ones received offers to race in the Formula 3000 competition.
The top three drivers came out of the back door of the podium, and the scouts pushed their way to get to them as if the real race had just begun. The most notable was Ferrari’s team lead scout who made his way right past Ramon and stopped Michael to give him the deal of his life. Other scouts tried to throw their deals at Michael, and they tried their luck with Nigel, who had shown a lot of potential, too.
Ramon strolled away from the crowd to his team’s garage. Even the few reporters who bothered to ask him a few quick questions couldn’t wait to finish and head towards Michael and Nigel. The road was clear and empty now to slip out of the spotlight and back into the garage. The team was waiting for Ramon there with another round of champagne to celebrate the great achievement of their champion. Patrick was there, too. He gave his friend a warm hug and congratulated him on the incredible feat he accomplished today.
Soon the party was over, and Ramon went out with Patrick for a few more drinks in the bar.
“I keep wondering where you would be today if you but took the offers dropping on you like rain until ten years ago? Don’t you ever think of that?” Patrick said while looking in the eyes of middle-aged Ramon, who was smiling at this typical question Patrick had never given up asking for the past ten years. “I would never know where or what I would be, but Patrick my friend, right here, I will always be king.”