BEFORE DAWN

by

A few days later, things begin to heat up again: Breedlove is back, still trying to save face and preparing to strap one on and show Speedvision and The World he isn’t bullshitting about this Mach 1 deal… that an American hot rodder can still stare down the entire planet and prove his mettle. That one man can overcome the bleakest of obstacles and stake his rightful claim as the fastest man on wheels.

So, with Breedlove back on the playa, I drive up with BZ, pulling an all-nighter out to Gerlach. (We had driven up from LA in a rentacar, a three cylinder Geo that was not really the right vehicle for the drive, but one that BZ insisted we take instead of the ‘71 Grand Prix and its chronic overheating.)

Our itinerary is loose, predicated only by a 7 AM arrival on the dry lake bed of Black Rock in time for more record runs…

After watching both Breedlove and Andy Green abort record runs, the day ends with us cruising around the measured mile, watching the sun go down. The sun drops like a biscuit and there we are, blanketed by darkness just like Breedlove’s truck driver. I tell BZ I can’t see the access road towards the paved highway. The one thing we aren’t supposed to do is drive towards the glow of Gerlach, lights shining from Bruno’s coffee shop and motel, Bev’s Miner’s Club, the Black Rock Saloon and a couple of hundred porch lights… but it is very easy to get disoriented out there in the Outback and Gerlach – the only beacon – pulls you away from your destination and into the mire…

And just that quick, I drive us into an absolute root beer freeze as the parched, impermeable playa dissolves into quicksand… I stomp the gas pedal on the anemic little Geo, giving ‘er full rudder as well as full throttle, telling BZ that it would be a long walk to the Brits encampment and even harder to explain to them what we doing on a racing surface that is in a quasi-lockdown mode…

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