It was July 12th; almost a month and a half after the Junior Prom, and Astrid found herself at the Las Vegas Speedway. It was a bright, sunny day and the 106-degree heat made squiggles in the air when one looked down the length of the pavement. The Maxxim Meteor; red, orange, and yellow fading into black, freshly detailed and completely charged, was pushed to the starting line. Waiting next to it was the Shannon Cheetah Tempest XT. With a silver nose fading into spots on its rear, the legendary racecar featured a clawing cheetah painted on the hood, and a running cheetah on either side panel.
“Are you ready to lose a million bucks, little girl?”
Astrid turned around to come face to chest with Tracy Shannon, the legendary auto designer. She had to look up to see the big man’s face. As usual, he was dressed in cowboy boots, jeans, a western shirt, and a black ten-gallon hat.
“I’ll be ready to pay up, should the unthinkable happen,” she said.
Shannon burst into a deep, rumbling laugh. “You got nerve, I’ll give you that! And you’re gonna need it. Anyway, here’s my driver: Jean Claude Sebastien… he’s a Frenchie, but he’s alright.”
“Oh, I know Jean Claude,” said Astrid, “though we haven’t really met.”
Astrid had seen the dashing French racer photographed by paparazzi while on dates with her aunt. He was much more handsome in person, and that was saying something.
“A pleasure to finally meet you, Astrid,” said the handsome driver. “Is Penelope here with you?”
“Oh, she’s around here somewhere.”
“We don’t have a conflict of interest here, do we?” boomed Shannon.
“I don’t think you have to worry about it. Jean Claude isn’t about to throw a race.”
“I’m not worried,” laughed Shannon. “He knows I’d hunt him down and kill him. We don’t take kindly to polecats in Texas.”