Welcome back to Austen Promises!
Here is the end of Chapter 10. 🙂 This post is a long one! Enjoy!
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Alabama Motor Speedway, Three days later
Liz was atop Will’s pit box with her headset on and their phones in her hand. She was in the second row of seats, directly behind Jason. To Jason’s right was the car chief, Bob Harker, and to his right was the engine specialist. Beside Liz sat the CEO of one of the companies that sponsored Will, and beyond him was the gentleman’s wife. Coach and Georgie had chosen to sit with Bingley’s team for this race.
Alabama Motor Speedway was a two-and-a-half-mile oval with high banking in the corners, which meant that the track was taller around the outside of the turns than it was down by the center, or inside. Will had taken Liz out for a ride around the track while they were dating, and she had been amazed at how far the car was tipped as they had gone around the turns. Will had explained that the banking made the cars faster, and that their speeds often topped two hundred miles per hour.
SCRA mandated the use of restrictor plates on the cars at this track as a way to keep the speed down. As a result, the cars often traveled in a large bunch. One false move at the speeds at which they ran could cause an accident that wiped out half the field. The drivers, Will included, had mixed feelings about the racing required at AMS, but the fans loved it.
The race had gone well for the first two stages, but in the last third, the drivers began to jockey for position. There had been two cautions within the first six laps after the green flag that started the stage, and conventional racing wisdom was that cautions bred cautions.
Liz had found it hard to relax all afternoon, and the sure knowledge that there would be a big crash left her stomach churning.
The moment came with forty laps to go. Will was on the outside, in front of a line of ten cars, bumper to bumper. There was a second line of three in the middle of the track, and a third line of fifteen on the inside lane.
Will pulled ahead as he came out of turn four, the cars behind him giving him momentum and pushing him forward. As he took the lead position, he moved to his left to block the leaders of the middle and low lines.
At the front of the middle line was one of the Lockhart twins, Timmy. Timmy did not like being blocked, though he was well-known for doing plenty of it to others. When Will drove down in front of him, Timmy gave him a push. But, instead of hitting the bumper of Will’s car squarely, he caught it at an angle, causing Will to spin. The cars immediately behind began to scatter, but Will was hit two or three times. His car lifted and flipped, scraping the catch fence along the front stretch of the track. The twenty-two-foot high fencing, designed to “catch” out of control cars and protect fans, swayed backwards as the roof of his racecar scraped it for several feet. The car rolled off the fence and onto the track, tumbling two or three more times before coming to rest on its roof. Though to Will it felt like hours, the crash was over in fewer than thirty seconds.
Liz had never seen Will in a wreck that bad, and as his car went airborne, she jumped to her feet with a cry. She became lightheaded and the world went black.
The CEO in the second row yelled, alerting Jason and Bob that something was wrong. They turned to look, seeing Liz on floor. Bob jumped up, both to help and to give aid, his headset still on.
“Let’s not say anything to Will about this right away.” Jason spoke into his radio after making sure he’d set it to the private channel used between he and the crew. Bob nodded, letting Jason know he heard and understood.
Jason turned to the SCRA official assigned to their pit area and gestured for him to climb up. He leaned over, putting his mouth to the man’s ear and moving his radio mouthpiece up over his ear. “We need a medic up here.” He gestured to Liz, who was still out cold. The official nodded, speaking into his own headset. Within minutes, a medical crew had surrounded the box and Liz was being lifted down to ride to the infield care center.
Liz came to as she was being carried down off the pit box. She tried to protest, asking about Will, but her words fell on deaf ears. The official who had called for the medics told her in no uncertain terms that she was to get checked out and cleared by the infield care center or get her pit road privileges revoked. That was enough to make her subside. She knew series rules would require Will to also visit the care center and told herself she was simply getting a ride over there instead of having to walk.
Liz arrived at the care center first. One of the medics looked her over quickly, asked a few questions, and took her pulse, then told her to sit and relax for a while. He handed her a bottle of water to sip just as Will walked in.
“Will!” Liz jumped up, but once again, dizziness overtook her and she slumped back down onto the chair.
Will took two steps toward his wife when the medic stopped him with a hand to his chest.
“We want you over here,” he said, gesturing to the next cubicle.
Will turned on the man the glare that had made him famous in the media center. “I’m fine. You can examine me just as well while I’m sitting next to my wife as you can six feet from her.” With that, he stepped around the medic and hunched down in front of Liz, grasping her hands in his. “What’s going on?”
Before Liz could answer, the longsuffering medic had pulled his setup to the area beside Liz. “If you don’t mind, Darcy, could you sit beside your wife so I can examine you?”
Without a word, Will stood and turned, parking himself in the seat next to Liz’s. He unzipped his fire suit and pulled the top down, exposing the tight-fitting undershirt. As the medic took his blood pressure and checked his eyes, he repeated his question to his wife.
“She passed out on the pit box.” Coach’s voice boomed out as he crowded into the cubicle. “Jason told the crew to remain quiet about it until you had taken your helmet off. He didn’t want to worry you.” “What do you mean, ‘passed out?’” Will looked Liz over.
“I’m glad I took your blood pressure before you heard this news,” the medic grumbled. “I’m pretty sure it would be through the roof right now.”
Coach chuckled. “Sit there and let the man do his job, Will. We can talk after you’re cleared.”
By this time, there were other drivers and race personnel crowding the small building, so conversation was nearly impossible, anyway. Will submitted to the required examination, happy that there seemed to be nothing more wrong than a few sore muscles. He sat through the explanation of concussion symptoms that drivers always got and then insisted on a further examination for Liz.
The medic complied, asking a few more questions. Finally, he said, “I have a suspicion about what made you faint, but I don’t have the necessary equipment here to test you. I suggest you make an appointment with your doctor when you get home.”
“What do you think is wrong?” Liz was mystified.
“Oh, I’m not sure it’s really that something is wrong. If my hunch is correct, you’ll be feeling a whole lot better really soon.” With that, the medic winked and moved on to the next driver.
Coach chuckled as Will and Liz looked at each other in confusion. “Come on, let’s get out of here and make room for the next driver.”
Will and Liz complied, holding hands as they smiled and nodded at the other drivers and team owners, and finally making their way out the door.
The series had another rule for drivers that required them to give media interviews. A crowd of reporters waited just outside the care center, and Will stopped to speak to them. Liz waited patiently, remaining quiet until Jeff Black spoke to her. “Liz, a few of us noticed you being brought in on a stretcher. What happened?”
Liz’s eyes grew wide and she looked for a moment at her husband. When he simply shrugged, she turned back to the reporter and explained. “I stood too fast when Will wrecked and passed out. I tried to tell the official I was fine, but he insisted I come down and let the medics look at me.” She shrugged. I was sitting in a chair when Will came in.”
“What did they tell you?”
Liz wasn’t sure she should say. She liked Jeff and trusted him, but she didn’t know all of his colleagues, and knew that Will didn’t like some of them. After a brief hesitation, she simply stated that she needed to see her personal physician when she got home.
At that point, Will was done. With a nod to the media members, he gripped Liz’s hand and headed toward the waiting golf cart.
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