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Motor Mouth

Titel: Motor Mouth
Autoren: Janet Evanovich
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willing to put money down that the 69 car was cheating, running with illegal technology.
    “Four car lengths,” Hooker said to me. “That’s too much.
Do
something.”
    “I can tell you when it’s safe to pass, and when it’s okay to pit, and when there’s trouble ahead. Being that I’m up here on the roof, and you’re down there on the track, and I’ve left my magic voodoo dust back in the motor coach, it’s going to be hard for me to
do
something.”
    And that was when the big one happened. The monster car crash that car owners dread and fans love. A Stiller car driven by Nick Shrin got loose, slid out of its groove, and the car following it made contact and punted Shrin into the wall. Six other cars got caught in the wreck and were instantly turned into twisted, shredded scrap metal. Fortunately, they were all behind Hooker.
    When racing resumed and everyone lined up for the restart, the gap would be closed between the red 69 Lube-A-Lot car and Hooker’s Metro car.
    “Back her down,” I told Hooker. “You just got lucky.”
    “What happened?”
    “Shrin got loose and hit the wall, and after that he was hit by everyone except you and the pace car.”
    The caution flag was out and the field was frozen until the mess could be cleared. Stiller Racing runs three Cup cars. Hooker drives one. Larry Karna drives another. And Nick Shrin drives the yellow-and-red car sponsored by YumYum Snack Cakes. Nick’s a good driver and a good person, and I was experiencing some anxiety about him right now. Stock cars are entered and exited via the driver’s-side window, and Shrin hadn’t yet climbed out. I had my binoculars trained on him, but I couldn’t tell much. He was still in his restraint system, still had his helmet on, visor down. The car was surrounded by emergency workers. A bunch of cars were trashed in the crash, but Shrin was the only driver not yet out of his.
    “What’s going on?” Hooker wanted to know.
    “Shrin’s still in his car.”
    Shrin’s spotter was standing next to me. His name is Jefferson Davis Warner, and everyone calls him Gobbles. He’s in his early thirties, his ears stick out, his brown hair sticks up, and he has a nose that got smashed in a bar fight and was left slightly crooked. He’s gangly legged and rail thin, and his hands and feet are too big for his body…sort of a cross between a fluffy-headed crane and a Great Dane puppy. He eats nonstop and never gains an ounce. I’m told he got the name Gobbles when he was in school and was always first in the lunch line. I guess it’s ironically appropriate that he’s now on the YumYum Snack Cake team. He has a good heart, and he’s a good spotter. And like a lot of people in the program, when Gobbles got out of the NASCAR bubble, he wasn’t the sharpest tack on the corkboard. He could calculate pit road speed from a tach reading, but he couldn’t tell a con man from a cow flop. It all smelled the same to Gobbles. Right now his face was white, and he had the rail in a death grip.
    “How is he?” I asked Gobbles. “Is he talking to you?”
    “No. I heard him hit the wall, and since then there’s been nothing but silence. He’s not saying anything.”
    Every spotter was binoculars up on the YumYum car. Conversation on the roof was hushed. No one moved. If a driver was really in trouble, a tarp would be raised, shielding him from view. I had my teeth sunk into my lower lip, and my stomach clenched into a knot, praying not to see the tarp.
    Rescue workers were at both side windows. The EMT at the driver’s window backed out. He had Shrin in tow. They strapped Shrin onto a stretcher. I still couldn’t see much. Too many people at the accident scene. NASCAR came on over their own frequency and announced that Shrin was conscious and going for tests. The PA system relayed it. An audible sigh of relief went up from the stands. Spotters backed off, using the break in action to scarf down junk food or smoke or rush to the men’s room.
    Gobbles was still attached to the rail, looking like he might keel over at any moment.
    “He’s conscious,” I told Gobbles. “They’re taking him for tests. Looks like you’re done for the day.”
    Gobbles nodded but held tight to the rail.
    “You don’t look good,” I told him. “You should go down and get out of the sun.”
    “It’s not the sun,” Gobbles said. “It’s my life. My life sucks.”
    “It’ll get better.”
    “Not likely,” Gobbles said. “I’m a loser.

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