Here we are with Part 3. The pattern seems to have evolved to a chapter being posted, voting for a day, and then a day-ish for writing. I hope you’re enjoying the story so far, I’ve certainly been impressed with the voting. Speaking of which:
I thought love was a bit of a long shot, but with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you never know. Anyway, rivalry it is, and here is part three:
The Tribune – 12th November 1976
RACING ACE IN SENSATIONAL QUIT THREAT
Racing superstar and double champion Harold Mortimer has hung up his helmet following a big bust up with his teammate and rival Rex Shuttleworth. The pair of them have been driving for Pyron GP for two years and have never seen eye to eye, but this latest batch of rows have caused an irreversible rift in the team.
Shuttleworth was on for the championship this year, with four wins, and a handful of podiums to his credit. A last lap incident between himself and Mortimer knocked Shuttleworth out of the final round of the season, handing the title to newcomer Tim Weston.
You could imagine that Shuttleworth blames Mortimer for the contact which forced him off the road, and sources within the factory say that the blazing arguments suggest the team are siding with Rex. Mortimer is reported as saying he will “quit being a pawn in these stupid games. I will start my own team and show them how it’s done.”
A replacement for Mortimer has not been confirmed, but speculation mounts over Australian rookie Daniel Peters. Shuttleworth is expected to remain with the team.
Mitch placed the paper on the desk and looked up at Bob.
“Thing is,” Bob said quietly, “Harold had a heart attack about a fortnight later. He never got a chance to set up that team, so his brother stepped in and created Mortimer GP as a legacy. Harold’s son, Mason, grew up knowing nothing but rage against the Shuttleworth’s, his Uncle gave him an opportunity and together, they’ve been at this subtle game for a couple of years.”
“Can’t you talk to the stewards? Or the President? And more importantly, why did nobody tell me?”
“It’s quite a well known story,” Bob said. “Most people would have done a bit of research about their employers.”
“Well, I’m not most people, and I’m not gonna take this lying down.”
A passing mechanic handed Mitch his helmet, which he took gratefully. He still couldn’t get used to people bringing him things, not having to fend for himself. He pulled on his gloves, walked past the car out into the pitlane itself, looking up at the sky.
The forecasts suggested rain, but it could hold off for the race. Two hours wasn’t too much to ask, was it? Mitch half turned to pull his helmet on, but spotted Mason Mortimer walking from Race Control to his own garage. His dark blue helmet and race suit made him a striking figure as he strode towards his car, the media chasing him as he went.
Mitch watched him, eyes narrowed, his anger bubbling right up to the surface. He was right back there, in that moment, when his car was stuck in the gravel, and his debut had been ruined. It didn’t matter that two weeks had passed, time had done nothing to heal this resentment, despite Bob’s best platitudes.
Mason spotted him looking, and detoured to pass near Mitch. “Hoping to get past the first corner this time?” he laughed.
Mitch jammed his helmet on and climbed into the car. He waited for the mechanics to secure him in, and to start the car up. He lined up on the grid, fourth, again. Going through the motions. Waving at the cameras, talking to the press on the grid walk, listening to Bob’s instructions for the formation lap.
Then he was in the car, staring at those lights for the second time in his short career. His eyes burned but he refused to blink. The second the red was gone, he was off, foot down. This time, the car in front of him also got away cleanly, and before he knew it, Mitch was at the first corner.
His heart was in his mouth, he held his breath and turned. A car veered towards him from the right, their wheels touched but then it was gone. He was through! He had made the first corner. Bob whooped on the radio, and the race was on.
Mitch had navigated his first pit stop successfully, and was running fourth, the same position as when he started.
“Mitch, we’re gonna bring you in,” Bob said, the radio crackling into life. “The car ahead is Mason and he’s pitting the same time as us. We need to bring you in early, mix it up. Bruno’s out in front, and we could do with you taking points off everyone else.”
Mitch focused only on the word ‘points’ for a moment. His first race had been so disastrous that to find his team relying on him for points was almost incredible. Then he concentrated on the decision at hand.
“I can pass him,” he said.
“No,” Bob countered. “Overtaking isn’t easy. And this is Mason. Forget about the last race.”
“I can do it,” Mitch said.
Bob was silent for a moment. “Ultimately, it’s your decision.”
What strategy should Mitch take?