BAKER LANDING STRIP (DRAG STRIP)

- Saturday night

Celeste and TK push through the crowd at the normally abandoned landing strip. Yesterday this place was tumbleweeds, now it's a bustling racetrack. A makeshift village of trucks, trailers and tents are clustered in the area of the starting line and extend most of the way down the strip. There are grandstands and timing lights. Huge portable flood lights illuminate the entire scene. Vendors hawk pop and hot dogs, and fans buy T-shirts and trade bike stories with the racers in the Pits. The Grungers aren't really so bad once you get to know them.

To great fanfare, Terry appears at the starting line with the unreal SuperBike. This thing isn't a bike! It's a two wheeled dragster, powered by a turbocharged, fuel burning Hemi head Chrysler V-8 that puts out over 3,000 horsepower. It takes a rear tire nearly 20 inches wide to get the power to the ground. The crowd goes wild and begins to chant "Bikester! Bikester!" Nitro, always unflappable, stares at Terry with an amused expression on his face. As long as he's known him, Terry has always put on a show for the crowd. Terry does a very smokey burnout, heating up the huge racing slick with an earth shaking display of brute horsepower. The crowd goes wild! Then after carefully staging at the starting line, he leaves under full power, doing a two foot high wheelstand as the light turns green. He holds the wheelie for the full quarter mile, and easily sets a new track record. He pops his parachute with its large Bikester logo as he crosses the finish line, definitely letting everyone know who's "King of the Hill"!

The races begin. Racers compete with each other to see who will have the opportunity to race against SuperBike in the big final.

"QUICK"

After several hours of eliminations and another smokey exhibition run by Terry, a very large crowd watches as the two bikes that have won all their elimination rounds run against each other. The winner will face Terry and SuperBike in the grand finale. It's Nail on his supercharged Harley drag bike against Big Daddy Corliss on his big twin engined Kawasaki. Nail's unbelievablely quick reflexes give him a full bike length lead at the start, and even though Corliss's bike has more power and speed he can't make up the difference. It will be Nail against Terry in the final. Celeste smiles. Nail's video game loss has been vindicated.

"KING OF THE HILL"

Thirty minutes later, Nail is back at the starting line, ready to race Terry. As the engines are fired up on the two bikes, Celeste and TK push their way to the front of the huge crowd around the starting line, or as TK says, "A good thing about this wheelchair is that it always gets you a front row seat." The noise is deafening as the two bikes do their burnouts, then they slowly pull up to the starting line, the yellow lights come on in both lanes-they both bring their revs up, then the lights turn green and they're gone. Nail once again getting a quick start, leads by almost a bike length. But by the 1/8 mile marker Terry has passed him and is pulling away. Terry wins easily, breaking his own track record in the process.

Celeste decides to wait around the starting line to congratulate Nail on a good race when he gets back for the trophy presentation, while TK wheels off to investigate the equipment and machines that seem to be overflowing from the various rigs in the pits and to see if he can score a few more autographs. Once he gets out in the pits, he spots the Bikester's trailer and heads straight for it. Back at the starting line, the presentation of trophies for the various classes of competition and "King of the Hill" is over and Terry congratulates Nail on his great start and fast reflexes. Standing nearby, Celeste gives Nail the thumbs-up sign, and Nail beckons her over to meet Terry.

BIKESTER TRAILER

TK can't believe his eyes. This rig is totally high-tech! It's fully loaded with the state-of-the-art equipment-a complete rolling race shop. Looking in the open side door, TK spots a crate under a work bench with the words 'SUN TOOL, Inc. H²O-S'. What a find! He forgets about everything else. He has to check this out. He rolls up the side ramp into the trailer and over to the open Sun Tool crate. TK looks inside and immediately recognizes the contents. He is happily digging through it when he gets the feeling he's being watched, and looks up to find Nitro blocking the door-and he looks rather formidable.

Terry, Nail and Celeste arrive to find TK and Nitro removing various strange looking parts from the crate and discussing them in technical terms that the three of them cannot understand at all. TK is explaining to the astonished Nitro that the parts are prototypes from an experimental project in using water for fuel. TK is amazed because these parts were thought to have disappeared almost 50 years ago when the US Government had abandoned a top secret attempt to develop a readily available high horsepower producing fuel for, among other things, the P-51 Mustang Fighter Plane. Nitro had bought a P-51 engine for a future project at the Sun Tool company surplus yard in El Segundo and the crate of strange parts came with it. Nitro, a true junk yard rat, can't go past a surplus yard without going in to dig around, and he likes Sun Tool the best because they have been in business since the 1930's doing mostly government projects, so they have a lot of what Nitro calls "neat stuff". The place is even worth a trip to El Segundo. . . occasionally.

"CRUISIN' THE NET"

While cruising the information superhighway on his computer, TK had come across several scientists and engineers trading information about a project known as the Sun Tool H²O-S. Its purpose was to separate the hydrogen out of water and process it into a usable fuel. The 'S' stands for separator. Scientifically inquisitive, TK was interested in this concept and had several conversations with them at a science site on the Internet. They were quite impressed by TK and soon asked him to join their group. Something good about doing things by computer is that it doesn't show how old you are-just how smart you are, and TK is plenty smart.

After eight months of sending information and ideas back and forth by computer, TK and the three other members of the group (their computer address was 'nopoll'-for no pollution), had worked out the system except they didn't have the prototype parts that had been built in the Sun Tool laboratories, which were absolutely necessary to complete the project. The cost of the research and development to design and build those parts again would be out of the question, and according to all the information they could find, the original parts had been destroyed many years ago.

Shortly after that, the other members of 'nopoll' without a word, signed off the Internet, and all 'nopoll' information was suddenly deleted. TK tried every way he knew, but couldn't make contact with them. Then one day, TK had a message in his e-mail asking him to contact a law firm that represented the Sun Tool company. They said they had a "very lucrative offer for him." TK did some checking (a computer can turn up just about any information) and discovered that the Suntool company had been bought by Atlas-Mega Petroleum Incorporated. Atlas-Mega was known to be a very powerful and somewhat ruthless company. TK got scared and signed off the Internet before they could trace him. The members of the 'nopoll' group had thought someone might be monitoring them, and it looked like maybe they were right. Now here he was, looking at the very pieces that were the key to a secret that could allow every vehicle in the world to run on water, helping put an end to air pollution. Or as TK put it "The Ultimate Anti-Smog Device."

After listening to TK's story, Nitro's brain is working overtime. While putting an end to world air pollution is certainly a most worthy goal and of the highest priority, Nitro is a racer, and can't help but think of the power you could get out of an engine running on the oxygenated hydrogen fuel that this system would produce. At last, all the horsepower you could imagine, "A racers dream!" TK is thinking too: "What a way to test this system - on SuperBike!"