Leather clad motorcyclists swarm through a small
high desert town like wasps over a picnic spread. These, the GRUNGERS,
are a defiant, independent breed of bikers and racers who stage
impromptu match races throughout the Southwest. Baker is crawling
with them. They circle lazily around the gas stations and parking
lots. They cruise the main street in formation and lounge around
the streets and storefronts from the city square to the old landing
strip on the outskirts of town. Merchants hire extra help to handle
the huge increase in customers. This is the biggest boon to the
local economy since the last bike race. In fact, racers are
the economy here; they spend a lot of money. But the racers and
spectators are here for one thing: the word has gone out that
the BIKESTERS and the awesome V-8 powered SUPERBIKE will compete
against any and all takers in a "Run what Ya Brung"
midnight match race. Everyone stops what they're doing and stares
as the Bikesters' truck and trailer pulls into town and stops
in front of the Truck Stop Cafe. They all know SuperBike has arrived.
TRUCK STOP CAFE
This truck stop hasn't seen a truck since Johnson was president. Still, it's the dive of choice for the Grungers. They spin in and out of the gravel front lot as if they own the place. Inside, CELESTE, an attractive and street smart 20, pirouettes among the reveling Grungers in an impressive demonstration of balance and finesse. The Grungers may act like they own the place, but Celeste runs the show. She takes orders, serves food, cleans tables, and keeps everybody in line with efficiency and grace. Despite their rough edges, the Grungers are a decent bunch-and know better than to challenge Celeste's clear authority.
At the video games, NAIL, a punkish twenty-something,
hammers and pounds the controls as he struggles to displace Celeste's
high scores. Something tells you he'd rather break the machine
then lose-especially to a girl.
In the back, TK, a small black kid in a wheelchair,
passes his tattered blue sticker book among the Racers, collecting
new stickers and autographs. He's a computer prodigy-a fledgling
hacker who attends college by computer modem-but he's also a fanatic
bike racing fan. Elated, he introduces Celeste to BIG DADDY CORLISS,
the Grunger racing champion who had remained undefeated until
Terry and SuperBike appeared on the scene.
Celeste and TK have a special relationship. Raised
in foster homes, they've long considered themselves brother and
sister. On her eighteenth birthday, Celeste moved out on her own
and began to work as a waitress so that she could obtain legal
guardianship of the young genius. Since then, she's worked an
endless succession of subsistence jobs to pay their rent, and
put her own dreams on hold so that TK's schooling and Internet
access bills are always paid.
Exasperated, Nail finally challenges Celeste to prove
herself on the video game: if Nail can only work his way up to
the tenth highest score-there's no way a girl can hold numbers
one through nine. He bets two passes to the race that 'CEL' is
somebody else. Celeste easily replaces the number two score, bumping
Nail from the list. As he hands her the passes, the place erupts
in catcalls and hollering.
In a back booth, Terry and Nitro hold court; talking
and joking with the racers and fans who come by to visit or just
say, "Hi". Since the end of their daredevil and boat racing
days, Terry and Nitro have gotten back into Drag Racing. First, it
was with Dragsters and Funny Cars, which were fast, but weren't
exciting enough for Terry, then with bikes, which were exciting,
but weren't fast enough. Now they have Nitro's latest creation,
'SuperBike', a motorcycle powered by a AA/Fuel Dragster engine.
This seems to be both exciting and fast enough for Terry. In fact,
it's just plain "scary"! It's so scary that it isn't
allowed to race at sanctioned events that count toward the national
championship, however there's lots of very lucrative match racing,
against everything from AA/Fuel Dragsters, Funny Cars and the
occasional Jet Car on down. Sometimes Terry races against Pro
Stockers and gives them a two second head start. He always catches
them, but it's always the most fun at an all bike race, like the
races the Grungers put on. Terry and Nitro crisscross the country,
going wherever there's a race for them.
Terry looks up and growls at the face of BO BARNS,
the famous ("Just ask Bo") international dragster driver,
as it appears on the TV screen behind the counter. Barns likes
to brag he's the best in the world. The only problem is that he
is. For the third year in a row he is likely to amass enough points
to win the season championship. For Terry, beating Bo Barns is
what SuperBike is for, the rest is just practice. They may not
let SuperBike run at their races, but Terry knows he can beat
their champion: "Especially that loudmouth!"