Overdrive, p.1

Overdrive, page 1



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  Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com

  TYNDALE and Tyndale’s quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.


  Copyright © 2008 by Just Write Productions. All rights reserved.

  Cover illustration of car © 2007 by Peter Bollinger. All rights reserved.

  Cover flag image © by iStockphoto. All rights reserved.

  Cover speedometer image © by Russell Tate/iStockphoto. All rights reserved.

  Author photo copyright © 2006 by Brian Regnerus. All rights reserved.

  Designed by Stephen Vosloo

  Edited by Lorie Popp

  Technical consultation by Amber Burger

  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

  This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or publisher.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Fabry, Chris, date.

  Overdrive / Chris Fabry.

  p. cm. — (RPM ; #3)

  Summary: As Jamie fights to earn her NASCAR license, her foster brother, Tim, takes a job in the Maxwell garage and finds out more about his father’s death.

  ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-1266-8 (softcover : alk. paper)

  ISBN-10: 1-4143-1266-0 (softcover : alk. paper)

  [1. Automobile racing—Fiction. 2. Sex role—Fiction. 3. Foster home care—Fiction. 4. Christian life—Fiction. 5. Family life—North Carolina—Fiction. 6. NASCAR (Association)—Fiction. 7. North Carolina—Fiction.] I. Title.

  PZ7.F1178Ove 2008

  [Fic]—dc22 2007042720

  ISBN 978-1-4143-3250-5 (ePub); ISBN 978-1-4143-3251-2 (Kindle); ISBN 978-1-4143-8649-2 (Apple)

  Build: 2013-04-04 15:20:09

  This book is dedicated to Colin Fabry, who provided expert technical assistance on the subject of diabetes. I’m proud of you.



  Chapter 1: The Test

  Chapter 2: The Bank

  Chapter 3: Just Like Life

  Chapter 4: Brokenhearted

  Chapter 5: C.D.

  Chapter 6: Not Even the Sky

  Chapter 7: Chad’s Shadow

  Chapter 8: Deep Dish

  Chapter 9: Simulator

  Chapter 10: The Package

  Chapter 11: DVD Truth

  Chapter 12: The Lens

  Chapter 13: Scotty’s Perspective

  Chapter 14: Go as Fast as You Can

  Chapter 15: Tyson

  Chapter 16: On Track

  Chapter 17: Good Sleep

  Chapter 18: Phone Call

  Chapter 19: Better than Tim

  Chapter 20: The Race

  Chapter 21: Makeup Time

  Chapter 22: Grease Monkey

  Chapter 23: Bad News

  Chapter 24: Tim’s Idea

  Chapter 25: Thin Pages

  Chapter 26: Showtime

  Chapter 27: Laps

  Chapter 28: Clean Air

  Chapter 29: A Real Good Race

  Chapter 30: Overdrive

  Chapter 31: Day After

  Chapter 32: Telling Cassie

  Chapter 33: Camp Left Turn

  Chapter 34: Bud’s Announcement

  Chapter 35: The Key

  Chapter 36: The Verse

  Chapter 37: Chasing Devalon

  Chapter 38: News

  Chapter 39: Making Jamie Laugh

  Chapter 40: Snake with a Stick

  Chapter 41: The Address

  Chapter 42: Qualifying

  Chapter 43: Jamie’s Turn

  Chapter 44: Nerves

  About the Author

  “The winner ain’t the one with the fastest car. It’s the one who refuses to lose.”

  Dale Earnhardt

  “Auto racing is boring except when a car is going at least 172 miles per hour upside down.”

  Dave Barry

  “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

  Ernest Hemingway



  THE RACE WAS nearing the start when the woman returned to the stands with the young girl. “Come on. We’re going to miss it.”

  “Sorry, Mom,” Jenna said. “Can we get something to drink?”

  “That’ll just make you go to the bathroom again. Let’s go.”

  The two wore #14 shirts and hats, as did the man at their seats, who welcomed them. He gave Jenna a drink of his Coca-Cola as the pace car pulled out. In the sea of people, these three were simply specks.

  The man leaned over, and the woman pulled out one earplug. “I just heard Maxwell is having spotter trouble.”

  “What’s wrong?” she said, then dipped her head to hear him over the engine roar.

  “Not sure, but there’s somebody new up there.”

  The woman stared vacantly at the track, and lines of worry formed on her forehead.

  “You okay?” the man said.

  “It’s Jenna. She’s going to the bathroom constantly. And she’s not faking it. She really has to go.”

  “Maybe it’s an infection,” the man said, looking past his wife at his daughter. Jenna wore headphones, tuned to Dale Maxwell’s channel. “She’s lost a lot of weight, and she didn’t have much to lose to begin with.”

  “I can’t get her to eat much of anything,” the woman said. “She used to dream of corn dogs and mustard but not anymore. Only thing she likes is eggs.”

  The man leaned over and pulled a chocolate bar from the cooler. “Jenna, you want some?”

  Her face was pale and her eyes droopy. Her skin clung to her cheekbones and she looked tired. No energy. “No, Daddy. I’m not hungry. Besides, that hurts my tummy.”

  The dad stood and stared at the race as the pace car veered away and the cars approached the start line. The crowd rose, and the cheering almost drowned out the noise of the engines. Almost. But the noise couldn’t drown out the worry etched on the man’s face.

  The man focused his binoculars on the Maxwell war wagon and Maxwell’s crew chief, T.J. Kelly, sitting at the helm.

  The woman stood and leaned close. “She’s talked about this day for months. Her first Daytona.”

  “It was so cute how she saved her allowance money for souvenirs,” he said. “We have to get her into the doctor this week.”

  “Tomorrow,” the woman said. “I’ll take her tomorrow.”

  Jenna sat back and put her head on the back of the seat.

  The man traded seats with his wife and leaned down to Jenna. “You want me to hold you on my shoulders? You’ll be able to see better.”

  Her face told the story. She shook her head and winced, putting a hand on her stomach. “I don’t feel good.”

  He patted her head. “It’s all right, pumpkin. Just rest.” He turned back to his wife. “Something’s definitely wrong.”

  The woman nodded. “I’ll call the doctor first thing in the morning, and we’ll get her in for a checkup.”

  The race took on a life of its own as the husband and wife watched Dale Maxwell move from the middle of the pack. A girl named Jamie was the spotter.

  The woman turned to the man. “Doesn’t Dale have a daughter named Jamie? Could that be his daughter?”

  She spoke as if she knew the family—and she did, from afar, of course, just like the rest of the fans. S
he had followed Maxwell for years and appreciated his character, his clean driving, and the fact that he put family and faith first.

  When the first caution came out, the woman leaned over to see if her daughter had seen the accident. She touched Jenna, but the girl didn’t stir.

  “Honey, she’s not responding!” the woman yelled.

  “Jenna!” the man said.

  If the two had been at church or a baseball game or a hundred other places, they would have disturbed the people around them, but not here. Few noticed the man picking up the young girl and hurrying to the paramedics. No one in the crowd of more than 160,000 glanced at the ambulance as it pulled away from the venue with the woman in the back with the girl, rubbing her arms and speaking comforting words while the EMTs put an IV in her arm.

  Nor did they see the man running to the parking lot, searching for his car, turning one way, then another, tears streaming. He stopped at a line of portable bathrooms, pulled out his cell phone, and dialed. His face strained, his body shaking, he leaned against a chain-link fence.

  “Pastor, there’s something wrong with Jenna. I need you to pray.”

  Chapter 1

  The Test


  JAMIE MAXWELL’S MOUTH fell open, and she stared at Bud Watkins, the grizzled old guy in charge of the driving school. She couldn’t believe what he had just said. After coming up with the money for the school and setting her heart on finishing, he’d told her to pack her bags and leave.

  As far as she knew, she hadn’t broken any of the rules. She hadn’t smoked, rubbed snuff, consumed alcohol, or done any other prohibited things. She hadn’t even eaten the calorie-filled pizza at the restaurant in the lobby of the hotel.

  “Just go on back to your room and I’ll call your parents to come take you home,” Bud said.

  Jamie’s mind spun as she grabbed the doorknob. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. She wanted to run from this place and never come back. But something stopped her. She let go of the knob, the door opening.

  “Go on,” Bud said. “Get out of here.”

  Jamie turned back to him. “I know you’re the king of this place and you have the power to send me home anytime you want. I’m okay with that. But I sold my race car to come here, and I put my future in your hands. Now you take all that away—plus the chance to realize a dream—”

  “What are you saying?” Bud said, his face pained.

  She took a breath. “I’m saying that I at least deserve an explanation. Why are you kicking me out?” Her voice was strained and her face felt flushed. She was sure there were veins sticking out of her neck. “I’ve done everything you asked. And all I want is to be treated fairly.”

  Bud looked hard at her and bit his lower lip.

  When he didn’t say anything, Jamie shook her head. “So why am I being kicked out?”

  He put on his white Stetson and stood, waving a hand. “All right, you passed. Go back to the hotel.”

  Jamie squinted like she hadn’t heard him correctly. “Say that again. I passed what?”

  He shoved his car keys in his pocket. “If you read the fine print of the contract, you’ll see that there is a bunch of tests—and not just on the track. Some people here are too timid. Good drivers but they don’t stand up for themselves.”

  “And that was the rap against me?”

  “That’s the rap against your old man. Nice guy. Works hard. But he lets others push him around.”

  “Like Devalon,” she said.


  Jamie blew out a breath. “And if I’d have walked out of here, you would have let me. Game over, just like that.”

  “Listen, Jamie. You gotta want what’s here. We’re not giving it away. You have to reach out and take it. If you’re willing to walk away without a fight, that only proves what people say is true.”

  Jamie narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m going to be the first woman to win the cup, and my dad isn’t a pushover.”

  Bud shrugged.

  “And the name’s Maxwell. You call all the guys by their last names. I expect the same for me.”

  He stared at her. “Fair enough, Maxwell. You should know that we’re extending the school into July. The board made the decision last night.”

  “But won’t that be hard—I mean, I don’t think I have enough money for room and board.”

  “The extra time is being covered. That is, if you want to keep learning.”

  Jamie nodded. “I want that license. I’ll be here.”

  She almost slammed the door behind her, but she didn’t want to go too far. Now she knew what to expect—and that was just about anything.

  She jogged back to the hotel, feeling 10 pounds lighter and ready to drive again.

  Chapter 2

  The Bank

  TIM CARHARDT SAT in the bank security office thinking he had royally messed up his chances at a new life. He was sure the police would come and take him away and he’d get sent to a reform school in Florida. He had stolen a key from a letter addressed to his distant cousin Tyson Slade. That was his crime—he was trying to look at what was inside a safe-deposit box at this North Carolina bank. But the bank had stopped the whole process and made him sit here.

  The security guard (his shirt pocket said Stout) sat on the edge of the desk, his arms crossed like a gargoyle on one of those old castles in a horror movie.

  “I didn’t do anything wrong,” Tim said. “That’s my dad’s stuff in the box.”

  Mr. Stout didn’t say anything, but when Tim got up, he blocked his exit and Tim just rolled his eyes and sat again.

  A guy in a suit approached the room along with Mrs. Maxwell, a worried look on her face. She asked questions and interrupted the guy, then dialed her cell phone.

  Great, Tim thought. Now she’s calling Dale. Or maybe she’s calling for a bus to ship me out of here.

  Tim hated the fact that he’d let the Maxwells down. He hated that he’d caused them trouble. He wanted to crawl away somewhere and die, like an old dog.

  Kellen, the youngest Maxwell, walked up to the door and pressed his nose against the glass, cupping his hands around his eyes so he could see inside. He smiled and waved when he saw Tim.

  Tim nodded, then looked at the floor. He felt like a criminal, and the voices of Tyson Slade and his wife, Vera, returned. “What would your daddy think?” Vera had said when he’d busted the mailbox of a neighbor.

  The door finally opened and Mrs. Maxwell entered. The guard left and closed the door, with Kellen still outside.

  “You okay?” she said.

  He nodded, looking away.

  “We were worried when you didn’t come back.”

  “Got tied up here. I thought I could make it in time, but it took me a while to find the place, and then they kept me here.”

  “You want to tell me about it?” Mrs. Maxwell said.

  “Not much to tell. Tyson got a letter with a key in it, and it said some of my dad’s stuff was in a box here. I just wanted to see what was in it.”

  “Does Tyson know you have the key?” she said.

  Tim shook his head. “I kind of intercepted it.”

  Mrs. Maxwell’s cell phone vibrated, and she stepped outside.

  Tim looked out the window toward the street and imagined squeezing through and running down an alley. He’d let his mind go like that in stressful situations—especially in school in Florida. The teacher would talk about some complicated problem or people would tease him about sitting at the back of the class, and he’d close his eyes and tear an engine apart or ride with his dad or go through prerace motions at a track. He could spend an hour going through those memories or following the initial spark of the engine switches all the way through the process of making a car come to life.


  At that moment he was scaling a brick wall at the back of an alley, trying to find a way over. He opened his eyes and saw Mrs. Maxwell.

“How are you doing?” she said.

  He stood. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

  The bank guy with the suit was behind her. “Mrs. Maxwell has explained everything and you’re free to go. I’m sorry to hear about your father.”

  Tim’s eyes darted between the two of them. He wanted to ask about the key and the box, but he figured getting out of here was enough right now.

  The security guy, Stout, stood back with his arms at his sides. When Tim passed, he nodded, as if he was trying to say, Sorry about all that happened to you, buddy.

  Kellen ran up to Tim as they left the bank. “I’ll show you where we parked.”

  Chapter 3

  Just Like Life

  JAMIE LOVED RACING XBOX and PlayStation video games, but the race simulator (known as the RS 43) was more advanced than anything she’d ever played. The RS would let her choose any track in the country that featured cup races and some that didn’t. Charlotte looked and felt like Charlotte. Talladega and Daytona were the favorite choices of just about all the students because there were no restrictor plates here—on the straightaway, Jamie had gone 234.

  This morning she chose Pocono because that was her dad’s next race. She punched in the right series of numbers and watched the familiar tri-oval, 2.5-mile track appear on the screen. There was the tunnel. The short shoot. The front stretch. And, of course, the long pond. It was one of the oddest-shaped tracks in NASCAR but one of her favorites. She loved looking at the surrounding woods and snow fences.

  Jamie loved going to Pocono with the family. It was usually right after school let out, and she and Kellen and her mom would drive through Virginia, Maryland, and into Pennsylvania. It was a gorgeous trip with all the trees and flowers so green, and since their dad was usually already there, they’d stretch the nine-hour drive into two days of shopping (which irritated Kellen). They’d find quaint shops along the way and an outlet mall or two, then spend the night at some lodge with moose heads on the walls.

  Kellen always insisted on naming the heads and said hello as they went through the lobby. “See you, Billy Bob,” he’d say. “Have a good night, Beauregard.”

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