As soon as we got to the racetrack, Abe was in his element. This wasn’t his first trip to the prom.
“I want to take it out and run a few laps, just to see what she can do,” he said.
The track manager smiled. He was a huge man with brown thinning hair, wetted into a comb-over. He waved to one of the track operations employees who got out a caution flag and waved Abe onto the track.
The three of us stood watching as Abe opened up the car and let it rip.
“Damn, he’s good,” the manager exclaimed, “’cept he never learned to take them corners.”
We watched for about ten minutes until Abe finally pulled into the pit. He waved to Harry. “Got it all warmed up for ya.”
Harry took the racing helmet from Abe and sprightly got into the car.
Within seconds, he wound away from the pit, deftly maneuvering through some barriers and then, opened up on the straightway.
“Hell, I don’t have any drivers who can finesse a car like that,” the manager whistled.
One of the maintenance employees—an older man—stopped working and leaned on the fence.
“That’s Harry Greenspan, ain’t it?”
My jaw dropped. “You know Harry?”
“Oh yeah—a few of us old timers remember him from back in the day. He was a hell of a driver you know.”
“Yup—used to drive stock cars. Then, one day, A. J. Foyt saw him race and offered him a job.”
Abe’s eyes lit up. “Are you kidding me?”
“No siree—it was back in ’65—asked Harry if he’d like to race ‘real cars’. Well, old Harry agreed and A.J. recommended him and he got to race in the 1965 Championship Car season.”
“Well, I’ll be damned,” the manager said.
“Harry drove in the Indianapolis 500—raced a Shrike rear-engine Halibrand Ford—nearly won that damn race, but the pit crew screwed up. Harry was so mad, he left and never came back.”
A silence fell over the three of us. We watched as Harry took the corner that Abe muffed and took it perfect—like the professional he was.
When Harry pulled into the pit, the manager shook his hand and several employees were waiting with autograph books.
“You come back any time,” the manager enthused. “Maybe you can teach my drivers a thing or two.”
Harry grinned from ear to ear.
Abe’s chest swelled. “It was worth the drive up, Scott,” he beamed. “It was worth the drive up.”
We dropped Harry off just after five. It was a golden afternoon and I didn’t want it to end. I guess Abe felt the same way too—after we drove away from Harry’s house, Abe pulled over to the side of the road.
“What’s up?” I asked.
He swiveled to face me, eyes crinkling, and a big grin spread across his face. In the afternoon light, with his dark wavy hair and olive complexion, he looked like a young Dean Martin. I almost expected him to burst into song.
“You know what today is?”
“Not just any Saturday,” he remonstrated, “It’s Saint Paddy’s Day. What do you say we hoist a few cool ones at Fionn MacCool’s down on the Esplanade?”
“Sure, but what about Mitzy and the kids? —you’ve been gone all day.”
“She’s at her Mom’s—they’re making baby food, of all things—and she and the kids are staying overnight.”
“Sounds good—but Saint Patrick’s Day downtown—you really think we can get a table?”
“I know a guy,” he laughed.
I grinned and slouched down in the seat, and pulled my red baseball cap down to shield my eyes. “Drive on, my Man,” I said.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.