James Bailey

Sun Lakes resident James Bailey is a retired engineer and Army veteran.

Historical note: In the year 2032 after yet another presidential election was decided against the popular vote by the outdated electoral college, citizens in California demanded that their state leave the United States if the electoral college were not discarded.

As all efforts to that end failed, a referendum passed easily for the state to leave in early 2033.

Similar elections in Oregon, Washington and Hawaii soon followed. Nevada joined them soon afterward. With those states leaving, it meant that Republican controlled (red) states were back in the majority in the remainder of the U.S., so there was no real desire to force them to remain.

The Roosevelt Raceway is not in the PaciMic States of America (PSA) capitol city. There’s no room for any such activity in the District of the PaciMic (the “D.P.” to the locals).

It is not much of a venue being as it is part of the long abandoned Asheville, Oregon private airport.

The track is part of the old runway, marked of for one-quarter mile standing start “drag” races only. The scene harkens back to the activity that was very popular 80-90 years before.

A few old hangars offer a pit area and some snack stands.

The PSA capitol building is located almost exactly twenty miles away to the east.

Richard (Rick) Preston (46) is an upper-level civilian engineering project manager for the Pacific States Air Force.

His job is both highly classified and highly stressful so for fun, Preston likes to drive.

Driving a vehicle manually is now a hobby, much like horseback riding.

Neither mode of personal transportation is used much anymore.

Now manually driving on public roads is so difficult, requiring obtaining a specific road clearance even to go to work and back, that Preston prefers to spend his limited spare time either working on his two antique Pontiacs or racing them on weekends.

It is Sunday, June 18, 2051, and Rick has decided that his sixteen old son, Jack, is finally ready to make his first real run at the Raceway.

He will let him drive their “little” car.

It is a 1964 Pontiac Le Mans coupe (not a hardtop). It was a very rare car even 85 years ago as it is a six cylinder with a four speed manual gearbox.

He still doesn’t know how many similar Tempests were made and had never seen one like it until he found it down in Crescent City, Calif. more than five years previously in 2045.

An older man, about 75, said that his dad had bought it new when the father mustered out of the Navy back in 1964.

Since it wasn’t a GTO or even a V8, this owner had decided it wasn’t worth very much, even as an antique. Preston snapped it up. Jack and his father assisted by his sister, Julie (14) and his mother, Pam, spent many hours restoring the Pontiac.

The beige vinyl seats and light tan exterior both shined like new.

Restoring the engine and transmission were the big problems that had to be solved.

Actually, bringing the gearbox back to original wasn’t really that difficult, since it was the same employed in Corvettes of that era. And gas-powered Corvettes of any vintage were still very much in demand, now twenty years after GM had stopped making them. so parts for the transmission were fairly easy to come by.

But the prices to be paid were very high. No, the big problem was the six-cylinder engine, which had originally been sourced from the Chevrolet Division of the old GM.

It was the first, but not the last, engine from Chevy to be installed in a Pontiac. To make this engine Pontiac specific, it took different diameter pistons than did any other Chevy six ever made. Preston’s engine rebuilder in Portland had a terrible time finding a complete set of these truly unique items.

Finally such a set was found across the continent in Hartford, Conn. in the recently established North Eastern States, and so, at long last, after more than three years, the Le Mans was ready. There were several classes for the antiques, those made in the 20th century, at the track.

For each decade starting about 1950, there were classes for strictly stock vehicles. Modified cars were only allowed to run one Saturday a month.

Models made after 2025 were not allowed as they were felt to be too automated to require much driver input.

The now common electric powered cars were strictly forbidden.

The Preston’s Pontiac would race against other four or six cylinder vehicles manufactured between 1955 and 1972.

Absolutely stock cars were the only ones allowed. Multiple carburetors or multi-barrel units or fuel injection were not permitted.

That day the Prestons summoned an Uber truck to take both them and their vehicle to the track from their home in Millville, Ore. The machine quickly loaded the Pontiac when it arrived with no real input from the humans.

The door to the passenger compartment then opened and the father and son quickly climbed aboard.

When they arrived at the track, the process was reversed. Upon arrival, Jack went over to sign up and to identify his opponent. He also had to show his driving permit.

No state government in the PSA (or in the USA for that matter) issued these permits, as they no longer allowed free travel on public roads by human drivers.

The Southern Oregon Timing Association issued Jack and Rick’s driving permits. The SOTA was in charge of the completion at the RR. When his contest was announced, Jack drove the Pontiac to the staring line. He was pretty nervous but tried very hard not to show it. The last thing he wanted to do was to damage the car that he had spent so many hard-working hours on. And he desperately didn’t want to disappoint his father. The contests were run on a very limited budget. So rather than the complicated light trees found in the still somewhat active professional drag circuit, the starter was a cute young brunette in a red shirt and matching short-shorts. Like a scene from eighty or ninety years before, she waved her white flag on a three foot pole first at the driver of the opposing car and then at Jack in the Pontiac.

Leaping in the air, the starter brought down her flag down in a swooping motion between the racers. Jack’s opponent drove a slant-six model Dodge hardtop from the early 1960s, a very fair fight against the Preston Pontiac.

Rick could tell it was an automatic, no doubt a Torque flite, when it rose up on its haunches before the >lag dropped.

This wasn’t a great advantage for either car as the good Chrysler automatics of that bygone era were usually somewhat better than their manuals.

Rick was initially afraid that Jack might stall out at the start but his son’s clutch action was near perfect, as was his shift into second.

The Dodge had gained about a car length based on its break as the flag dropped, but by the time Jack needed to upshift into third gear, the cars were just about even.

The shift from second to third across the shift pattern had been a challenge even when these cars were new, and that was the elder Preston’s second fear, but Jack made it look easy.

Preston had told his son to keep the Le Mans in third all the way to the finish line. He knew that they were risking a broken pushrod or worse but the Chevy six didn’t quite reach the 4500 rpm redline at the finish. Jack then let up and shifted into fourth.

He gradually slowed done to make the turn back on to the return lane.

Because the assignment as contest judge was slightly more dangerous than that of the starter, it was a young man in jeans and a tee shirt that waved his green flag in Jack’s lane. He had beaten the Dodge by less than twenty feet. It was Jack’s first victory. He was elated, as was his very proud father.

The pair spent the rest of the long afternoon watching all the remaining contests.

In particular, they were on the lookout for future opponents. The Prestons saw several that could provide an interesting challenge. By then it was getting late so Rick called for an Uber truck but since there was a lot of demand, it took more than thirty minutes for one to arrive.

They instructed the vehicle to load the Pontiac and then to take them back to Millville.

When they finally got home, it was almost dark as Pacific Standard Time is mandatory in the Pacific States of America for the entire year.

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