by EJB

This story was written in response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006 Fic Swap Challenge.

Fic Swap Request: I would like to see how Alan became interested in racing - how he discovered his love for the sport.

Tension filled the atmosphere in the lounge of Tracy Villa. Jeff and three of his sons, Scott, Virgil and Gordon, along with Tin Tin sat gazing at the television screen as the youngest member of the family had begun the final lap of the Parola Sands Grand Prix.

While Alan's three brothers were yelling with excitement and cheering him on, the other two observers were watching with mixed feelings of pride and fear for his safety. Jeff and Tin Tin gasped in shock when two other competing cars went out of the race after crashing and catching fire. Now it was down to just two remaining cars, Alan's and an old rival of his in the sport, Victor Gomez.

"Come on, kiddo, you can do it!" Gordon yelled enthusiastically, as the two cars began the last difficult stretch around the cliffs. Jeff, though, held his breath as Alan negotiated the dangerous bends and prayed he wouldn't crash and land hundreds of feet below. While he was proud of his son's achievements in the sport, Jeff still secretly worried about the dangers Alan risked every time he entered a race.

Soon it was all over and Alan safely passed the winning post. "He did it!" Virgil shouted. "Boy that was some race. That car Brains developed is going to be the envy of the racing world now."

His family looked on with love and pride as Alan received the trophy for winning the race. "I think that calls for celebration drinks," Scott said as he went to the lounge's bar when it was all over and the broadcast finished.

Later, Scott and Virgil went to the Games Room to play pool and continued to discuss the race while they played.

"The kid was really good out there today," Scott said. "I know he'd had the benefit of a great car to help him but he was good, too. The way he drove around those cliff bends needed skill. I must admit he gave me a few anxious moments when he crashed against the fence a few times."

"Well you've only got yourself to blame for that," Virgil laughed as he sank another ball into a pocket.

"What's that s'posed to mean?" Scott asked his younger brother, as he moved around the table to prepare to take a shot when Virgil was finished.

"Don't you remember it was you that got him interested in fast driving in the first place?" Virgil laughed.

"Oh yeah, I s'pose I did," Scott smiled and added. "I guess I can take some of the credit for what happened at Parola Sands today, too, then."

"Yeah, don't you remember when little brother was about eight years old," Virgil told him. He looked at his brother before taking another shot and laughed. "At least he succeeded with his ambitions. You didn't as I recall."

"Yeah I remember that day well," Scott answered. "The only thing I got out of it was an empty wallet at the end of it. All because I thought I would treat you lot to a Tracy brothers day out for a surprise."


Seventeen year old Scott Tracy woke up with the knowledge that his bed clothes were quickly being removed from the bed and he was being shaken rather rapidly. He was also aware that his youngest brother was yelling at him.

"Wake up, Scott, I've been waiting ages for you to get up," he heard Alan yell.

Scott opened his eyes to see his little brother standing there already dressed and waiting for him. "Allie, what time is it for Pete's sake?" He said looking to his bedside clock rather than at Alan for an answer. He groaned when he realised it was only 7a.m.

"It's far too early to go out yet, Alan. The places won't be open yet, and ‘sides I bet Virgil and John are still asleep," Scott told him.

"I thought we could have our breakfast and go early," Alan said. "I want to know where the surprise day out is going to be."

Scott wished he'd kept his mouth shut the previous evening. He should have realised that when it came to surprises the kids were always eager to know what they were.

"Okay, tell you what," Scott said with a smile. "If you can wake Virgil and John up, you come back and let me know and then I'll get up too."

"Okay, Scott, I'll do that now," Alan said as he eagerly left the room.

Scott smiled to himself and pulled the covers back over him hoping to catch a bit more sleep. He knew full well that it would take at least another half hour or so for Alan to raise Virgil from his slumbers, and then he would have to do the same thing with John.

Later at breakfast, Alan was still eager to know what the surprise was. "So where we going Scott?" he asked the question for the umpteenth time.

"It's a surprise, Alan, wait and see," Scott replied, trying to stay patient.

"I hope it's worth it," Virgil said. "I'd other plans for today."

"You know I need you to come, Virg, you can lend a hand if I get distracted for a while," Scott told him.

Virgil sighed, "Okay, what's the distraction's name this time?" he asked his elder brother.

"Hayley, and I might just see her at the place where we're going to," Scott whispered as his grandmother brought their breakfasts over and set them down on the table.

When they had finished eating, the other boys went to get ready to go out. Their grandmother managed to catch Scott by himself.

"It's good of you, Scott, to take your brothers out today," she said. "Alan was so disappointed he couldn't join Gordon on the Cub Scouts Adventure Weekend because of having that dentist appointment. You really cheered him up last night when you promised him this treat."

"Yeah, well it seemed like he needed it. I hate going to the dentist, too." Scott told her. "If it hadn't been for him having to go to the dentist he would have been with Gordon. He's missing out on all the fun he would have had with him and the rest of the Cub Scouts."

Ruth Tracy couldn't help thinking how much like his father Scott was becoming, not just in his appearance; at seventeen, he'd grown tall and had his father's dark hair and deep blue eyes. He took responsibility for the safety and well being of his younger brothers as well, acting like a second father to them while Jeff was away, as he was now on his frequent trips to New York building up the family business.

When they were all finally ready, Virgil, John and Alan stood outside the farm house waiting for Scott to finish cleaning the windows of his beloved car.

Alan looked at the car that Jeff had bought for Scott when he passed his driving test, parked beside the house. "Why can't we just go now?" Alan asked Scott as he grew more impatient by the minute. "You can see through the windows okay now."

"I'm nearly done, kiddo," Scott told him. He gazed with love at the sight of the old blue Ferrari that Jeff had bought from a friend of his for Scott to take to college. "I won't be long now. Just making sure Matilda looks good before we go."

"I still think that's a dumb name for a car," Virgil remarked.

"I know but it suits her, so I'm sticking with it," Scott answered as he gently laid his hand on the car roof.

"Can we go now?" John asked to get Scott out of his trance with his beloved car.

"Okay, come on let's go," Scott told them.

"You still haven't told us where we're going, Scott," Virgil said to his elder brother.

"I know, like I told Allie, here, it's a surprise," Scott answered.

"Yeah but what about the distraction for you, so's I have to baby-sit? That's what I want to know," Virgil asked him.

Scott smiled and said, "Put it this way, I've heard their family business has expanded and she helps her brother out selling hot dogs somewhere else now."

After making sure Alan and John were firmly secured in the back seat he climbed into the driver's seat, with Virgil on the other side of the front seat.

"Right, all set, let's go," he said, as he started the engine and the car roared down the track and on to the main road into town.

Ruth Tracy watched from the window as they left. Although secretly pleased to have the house to herself she still wondered where Scott was taking his younger brothers for the day. She knew he would keep them safe from harm but still wondered what surprise he had in store for them.

His brothers' eyes lit up with excitement as Scott drove the car through the gates of ‘Garden City Family Fun Park.' The new adventure park that had recently been advertised had not been open long on the other side of town. Scott got a leaflet from a gate attendant showing a map of the place and what attractions were on offer. After parking the car they decided between them where to go first.

The go-kart track was the first choice and they headed off in that direction. They passed several stands selling refreshments of all kinds of food and drink. The sight of these would have sent their grandmother into hysterics if she thought they might eat the unhealthy food being offered. Virgil watched Scott surveying the hot dog stands as they passed them by, but the expression on his face showed that he hadn't discovered which one Hayley was working at.

When they reached the go-kart track, it proved to be one of the most popular attractions and there was a short line forming for a turn at the vehicles.

Scott took Alan with him into the double rider kart he'd hired and Virgil took John in his. The race began between them and the other karts on the track. They lost, however, well behind the other karts that crossed the finishing line first.

"Can we go on again, Scott?" Alan asked eagerly.

"Yeah it was great," John joined in with enthusiasm.

"We can't, not just yet anyway," Scott told them. "Other people are having a turn now. Tell you what though, you can have a turn on the junior track over there." He indicated with his finger to the other track not far away.

Alan and John waited eagerly while other children got into the rest of the specially made safety karts for children. The attendant made sure all of them were safely strapped in before announcing, "Right boys and girls, we are just about ready to go. No crashing into each other or you will be stopped and taken out of the race immediately. First one over the winning line gets another turn for free. Ready? Then, away you go!"

Scott and Virgil watched as Alan and John sped off around the track. It wasn't long before their younger brothers went by them again on the second lap and to their amazement, Alan was way ahead of the others. John was way behind in a respectable middle place and trying desperately to catch up to his little brother.

Alan was still in first place when the next lap began; the thought of having another turn for free if he won was spurring him on to win. He was concentrating so much he never noticed his elder brothers watching him and didn't even notice where John was in the race. John was enjoying the race, too. He knew he was never going to win so he was more relaxed and waved to Scott and Virgil as he passed them.

The attendant who had started the race was also watching Alan with interest and said to Scott, "That kid with you is a natural. He's going to win. How long's he been go-karting?"

"Since we brought him here and put him in that kart today," Scott laughed as he watched the little red kart with the number eight on it speeding around the track with his little brother in it.

"You're kidding," the attendant replied, watching Alan as he came around again with a determined expression on his face as he concentrated on winning the race.

As the final lap came around, Scott and Virgil cheered Alan on to pass the finishing line first. John had finished in a reasonable position and was pleased Alan had won.

"There you go, kid," the attendant said as he stuck a winner's sticker on Alan's yellow tee shirt. "Stay there and wait until the karts get filled with some different kids and then you can go around again. Win again and you get a winner's trophy to take home with you."

The race began again and this time John joined his brothers as they watched and cheered Alan on as once again he took the lead.

The final lap was coming up and Alan was fighting off some stiff competition from some of the other young hopefuls who had caught up to him and looked like they might over-take him at the last minute.

"Come on, Alan, you can do it!" Virgil yelled, even though his brother was well out of range to hear him.

With one final, desperate effort, Alan just managed to go over the finishing line seconds before the car behind him. "He's done it, he's won!" John shouted to everybody within earshot.

Alan's face was flushed red with excitement and pleasure at winning both races. The attendant helped him from the kart and asked him his name.

"Alan Tracy," the young blond boy answered still beaming with happiness at his brothers.

"Well, Alan Tracy, that sure were two good races you won. Do you know that many a champion racing driver started off in a go-kart?" The attendant told him. "I'd like to see you entered in the Junior County Championship races if that's what you can do after being in a go-kart for the first time today."

"What does that involve?" Scott asked him.

"Just plenty of practice, Monday and Thursday evenings. We keep the track closed to outsiders while the kids do it. Here's a leaflet to tell you all about it," he replied. I'm a coach, and now that this park has been opened, we can put this part of Finney County on the map, especially with kids with his potential."

"Can I, Scottie, please?" Alan asked his big brother hopefully.

"Yeah, Scott, and while he's practicing you could get distracted," Virgil laughed.

"That's not a bad idea, Virg," Scott agreed with a smile.

"Anyway here's your winner's cup, and you can think it over," the attendant said as he handed Alan an imitation Grand Prix winner's cup for him to take home.

"Come on, Champ, let's all go for something to eat and drink," Scott told him and his other brothers. "Funny enough, I feel like eating a hot dog. Anybody else want one, or a burger? Don't let Grandma know though or she'll have my hide hanging on the barn door for a week."

"Can we go on the Fun Golf Course afterwards?" John asked.

"There's the rides, too, don't forget," Virgil reminded him.

"Sure, if you want to," Scott told them. "Virgil can take you and Alan on the Fun Golf Course, John, and I'll look after Alan's cup while I sit at the table near the hot dog stand.

When they got home Alan proudly showed his grandmother the cup he won at the park. "I won twice, Grandma, and the man said I could enter the Junior County Championships. Scott's going to take me to the practices."

Ruth picked up the cup and looked at it. Clearly a mass-produced cheap item but to her young grandson it was more precious than gold. "That's wonderful, darling, I'm so proud of you. I'm pleased you all enjoyed your day out with Scott."

Then looking at her other blond grandson she noticed how pale his face was, "You don't look well, sweetie, are you okay?"

John shifted his feet about and looked up at his grandmother. "I feel a bit sick, Grandma. I think I went on too many rides."

"He did, Grandma, lots of them," Virgil agreed. "He enjoyed himself there."

"Where's Scott?" she asked as suspicions formed in her mind about what else may have made John sick.

"Well you know, Scott, he'll be washing the dust off and polishing up his car before he comes in." Virgil told her.

While their grandmother fussed over John and took him upstairs to bed. Alan picked up his cup and took it up into his room putting it in a place of honour on his bedside chest. He saw the two items he'd got from the dentist's toy box as a reward for his ordeal the day before. He picked up the colouring book and set of crayons and took them downstairs to the kitchen where he sat at the table and opened up the first page. It was a scene of two racing cars, and one had a number eight on which was the same number as the go-kart he'd won the race in that day.

He carefully coloured in the scene and before long the page was transformed from black and white to colour, the car with number eight on he chose to be red like his winning go-kart and the other one he coloured yellow.

He'd just finished when Scott came in to look for something to eat and drink. He poured himself a glass of orange juice and helped himself to a muffin, then came over to see what Alan was doing.

"Hey, that's good, Alan," Scott told his little brother. "You've made a nice job of that picture and haven't made any smudges or anything. You're almost as good as Virgil."

Pleased at the praise he got from Scott he smiled and told him. "I might be a racing driver one day like that man in the park said, if I keep on winning races like I did today. Thanks, Scott, for taking me out and for letting me go to the practices for the County Championships."

Scott ruffled the young blond's hair and smiled. "Pleased you enjoyed it, Allie, and I hope you do well at them."

Later that evening, Alan went to bed feeling very tired after the enjoyable day he'd had. He looked at the winner's cup beside his bed and felt very proud of himself. He'd stuck the picture of the racing cars on his picture board in his room and thought how great it would be to be able to drive a car like that in a race. He looked forward to telling Gordon all about it when he got home tomorrow, too. He missed his brother and wished Gordon had been at the park, knowing that he would have enjoyed riding on the go-karts, too.

Now Alan looked forward to Scott taking him to the practices for the County Championships. With these pleasant thought in his mind he soon fell asleep.

Meanwhile, Scott and Virgil sat out on the porch drinking some lemonade and talking about the day out they had.

"Looks like you've got your Monday and Thursday evenings booked for a while now, Scott," Virgil told him.

"Yeah, unless I can get Dad or Grandma to take Alan," he replied. "You could see how eager he was Virg, I couldn't let him down."

"What's the matter, don't you want to be distracted anymore?" Virgil laughed.

"Knock it off, Virg," Scott answered. "It wasn't funny."

"I think it was," Virgil laughed. "There's you treating us all to hot dogs and burgers and drinks twice over during the day. Then the lovely Hayley finishes her shift and goes off with a guy from the cotton candy stall. Boy, your face was a picture, Scott. Next time you ought to check up and see if your distractions don't have distractions of their own first."

"I could hardly get close enough to speak to her with three kid brothers in tow, could I?" Scott told him. "

"Then on top of everything else, John threw up all over the back seat of your car on the way home. Good job he told Grandma it was going on too many rides that made him sick. I wouldn't like to be in your shoes if she finds out what you'd been feeding him, and us," Virgil continued, still laughing at Scott's disasters.

"Don't remind me. I had to clean that up," Scott grimaced at the thought of the mess his beloved car was in when they got home. "Well if Alan gets to be a Junior County Champion go-kart racer at least it will have been worth the effort, I suppose."

End of Flashback

"So Alan's got you to thank then, Scott, for sowing the seeds of racing in him," Virgil said as he watched his brother pocket another ball as he and Scott relived the memories of that day.

"Yeah and come to think of it, I should ask him to pay me back some of the money I spent on him that day for all of those rides and treats," Scott laughed. "I wonder if he's still got that winner's cup."

"I'll bet he has it stashed somewhere in his room," Virgil laughed. "He was really proud of it when he took it home that night. He was even more proud when he became Finney County Junior Go-Kart Champion."

Before they could go on with their memories of Alan's first racing triumph they were interrupted by an emergency call from their father.

"Come up to the lounge, both of you," he told them urgently. "I've had a distress call from Alan. He's on a bridge with Grandma and there's a bomb primed to go off."

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