For the next several weeks ‘Al’ drove the cars every day, including each of the three Sunday’s that they were in races. Their strategy was not to take a lot of risk and win, but for him to continue to get the feel of the two cars and to learn how to interact with the other drivers.
On the day of the big race he had chosen the car that he felt handled best, and had constantly told his mechanics that it was their car and he would only be the driver for a couple of hours. They had the machine tuned to a fine edge. When he arrived at the track they pulled the cover off the car, and he saw that during the night they had painted in large letters on both sides ‘LAWMAN.’ Again, all the brass and their families were there, and the chairman stopped by the pit to offer his encouragement.
As the race opened up it was obvious that every driver was feeling out the others and trying to get the feel of the tempo. It was also soon obvious to Dunk that the man driving for his chairman’s adversary not only wanted to defeat the Lawman, but if possible force his car into the retaining wall. At first it annoyed him, but when the driver had gestured at him with his middle finger, he pulled himself together and reminded himself of what Butch kept saying, that this was all a matter of mechanics and physics, and don’t let your emotions become self defeating. He would just have to be careful and maneuver himself at the right time and leave the other guys behind.
After a few laps he knew his car could move faster than anything on the track; he had no trouble keeping up with the pack and the engine had a lot left to spare. His strategy was not to try to lead the pack, but to force the one car to stay back with him if it was indeed stalking him. He had had a similar experience in other races where the word had gotten around that he was the new kid on the track and as green as grass. So he had practiced a maneuver hundreds of times during the last weeks and now the opportunity to use it might be materializing.
As they came out of one turn, Al intentionally placed his car in the outside lane near the wall, and there were two empty lanes on his left and two cars abreast to the left of that. The stalker was slightly behind and began to accelerate and pull alongside on his left as they headed for the far turn. As he pulled up alongside to hold Al straight into the turn and the oncoming wall, Al touched the brake, shifted and whipped around to the rear left of the stalker and began to accelerate - all in one fluid movement.
The stalker glanced to his right and not seeing Al’s car was slightly perplexed and then looked behind and then to the left. They were now in the turn and Al held his direction for an extra split second before he began to take the turn; it was long enough to ride the stalker into the cement wall. The front edge of the car caught the wall and spun it around three-quarters of a turn and it headed straight across the track and crashed into the inner wall. Two men rushed out and extracted the driver before the car burst into flames.
The field was slowed until the wreckage was cleared. After speed was resumed Al pulled up just behind the leaders and trailed them until the last two laps when he easily let the car pull ahead and away from the field.
"I think it’s our bedtime," he said softly, looking at Kerrie.
She felt her body tingling and thought, ‘I wonder what he means by that?’
They stepped out of the square and into the next cab that came along and were at the Connaught in minutes. The Laird picked up their room keys from the concierge and escorted her to her door. He opened the door, and closed it behind them. He walked into the bathroom and looked about. "Plenty of towels," he observed. Then he went over to the window and closed the drapery a bit more. Next he walked over to the bed and pushed up and down on it with his hand. "Seems to have a nice spring to it." All the time he was walking about, she was following a half step behind him. Next he walked over to the telephone, picked it up and told the concierge, "Wake up call at 7:00 a.m., and please hold any incoming calls; no interruptions during the night." Then he walked to the door.
At the door he turned the bolt shut with a snap and slid the chain in place; then he turned around. She was standing less than a foot from him, and she could feel electricity arcing from her body to his at several points, and she thought she could feel the same coming in her direction. She was breathing in short rapid breaths. She leaned slightly forward and tilted her head back and started to close her eyes. He spoke: "I think everything looks comfortable and secure here. It’s been a nice evening. See you at breakfast downstairs at eight o’clock."
Her eyes snapped wide open. He lifted the chain off the door and opened it, and he handed her the key. "Be sure to keep your door locked with the chain on. Good night"
He closed the door behind him. She stood there for the better part of a minute. Somehow she had misread things. She went over to the bed and sat on the edge and reflected. It had been such a wonderful day from the beginning, and she couldn’t remember when she had had such a lovely evening. He was like a man of any girl’s dreams; at least for her it was developing that way. She thought maybe she’d better take a cold shower. Maybe she was acting like a schoolgirl. She reminded herself that she was on a treasure hunt, not a manhunt. And after all, Al Lawman was really her immediate boss, and it would not be a good idea to get romantically involved with him. As she thought about it more, she wished he had kissed her, so she could find out where her true feelings lay.