I stick the cassette of the interview with the Goat in the Batmobile’s tape deck and play it back to distract BZ.
“How did you know Glen Leasher?”
“He used to work for me. He drove my trucks. He was getting ready to go back home (to Wichita). Some guy said, ‘Why don’t you give this guy a chance to drive your car.’ I said, ‘Sure, go ahead.’ He drove the car and the first meet we were in, we won it.”
“So tell me about the Top Eliminator run in ‘62…”
“It was a misunderstanding, we should have won the race. They said that we fouled. We pulled up at the starting line and the front wheels went over the line so we pulled ‘em back and Prudhomme was still coming down. He hadn’t even been there yet and they disqualified us.”
“So you were on a single run?”
“When he (Prudhomme) come he rolled the lights and they said, ‘Shut if off.’ About a half hour later they said, ‘you’re disqualified because you went over the line first.’ It was a bunch of shit.”
“You’ve had a lot of crackerjack drivers in your career. How would you rate Leasher?”
“He was one of the best drivers I had. He knew if the car needed some weight here or weight there. Really sharp guy.”
“How did you feel about him driving jet cars after he quit driving for you?”
“I tried to talk him out of driving that big coupe. He wanted to go 500 mph. He didn’t make it. I didn’t want him to go, but he went anyway.”
“So you were pretty hurt when you heard he was killed in the Infinity?”
“I don’t feel too bad, because I knew that was going to happen. Anything that Romeo Palamides built was a bunch of crap. He was going down the strip at 300 and some odd mph and pulled off that black line — you’re supposed to follow that black line. He pulled off and he tried to correct it and then it blew. It flipped over and killed him.
“He said, ‘I’m going to drive that car up there at Bonneville.’ I said, ‘Oh? It’s up to you. If you go up there, you are not coming back alive. Not with Romeo’s stuff.’ They built that car and they should have tested it. But they didn’t test it. Anything over 300 mph and you lose. That is just the way it happens.
“He was saving his money so he could buy a roundy-round car. He was a helluva’ driver. That sonofabitch Palamides didn’t have enough decency to bring him back in a box…”
“How do you spell his name?”
“Leaser. L-e-a-s-e-r. Some made a mistake. It don’t make no difference anyhow. He was a good driver. Nobody could beat him.”
“Unless they have some home town refereeing…”
“Prudhomme is a big asshole, that is all he is. He goes around bragging that he beat us. He didn’t beat us. I got no use for the guy. They didn’t let us run.
“After they disqualified us down there, we were all down at the starting line. So I told the starter, I said, ‘What went wrong? We didn’t do nothing. He went over the line too.’ ‘Yeah, but he went over the line first.’ ‘We went over the line? The front wheel just touched it and we backed up. The people went crazy over that, they threw rocks at him, at Prudhomme, and everything. Everybody wanted to see us run him. We beat everybody, cars better than his. There was no money in it. It was 4000 bucks altogether. I got so damn mad that I took my pocketbook and t’rew it on the floor. There was four guys, the guy who built the car, the guy who built the motor and everything. And I said, ‘I put up all my money. We run. If I win, then I take back my money. If I lose then you can have all of my money in my pocket.’ I had about 3 or 4 hundred dollars in my pocket. They couldn’t come up with any money.
“It was a bunch of shit. ‘You four guys, if we turned you upside down we couldn’t come up with a nickel. You guys are nothin’ but broke.’ That’s why they called me ‘Terrible Ted.’”
“Were the spectators as pissed off as you were?”
“People went crazy. When he went out to make his run they were t’rowin’ beer cans at him. They were t’rowin’ rocks and everything at him. We had to make a run too — just for the fun of it and everybody stood up and were going, ‘Hooray’ and all that shit. ”
“It was a bad deal… Prudhomme… that sonuvabitch.”
We never saw a highway patrolman all the way home from Bakersfield.