My Car Quest

March 28, 2020

Fiction: Raging Reggie and the Robots

by Wallace Wyss –

For Raging Reggie it was a long time coming back. Last he remembered, he’d been at that race in Bakersfield in 2020 and had been in the act of shutting the door on some miscreant who wanted to pass him on the outside, when he’d hit something in the track–an axle? And began the flip that seemed to last forever.

And now here he was, in 2025, walking up in a hospital and he couldn’t believe that he had been in a coma that long. He couldn’t ask his doctors and nurses much about what had happened because, fact was, they were robots. They were efficient, and good looking (he especially liked the strawberry blond named “Peaches”) but they weren’t programmed to answer historical questions.

But Raging Reggie was glad to be back so he put his own needs first. He began working out in the rehab center’s gym, first working on walking and balancing and then starting on the weights to get back into fighting trim.

Driving? The nurses humored him, in fact he wasn’t sure they knew what driving was. Back around 2024, when that pushy broad environmentalist had been elected and passed the anti-driving law, all new cars went autonomous, unless you had special permission to drive a self driver.

Reggie couldn’t believe it. He was, after all, to the core of his being, a racer. Back home (if there still was a home…) he had a whole wall of trophies. “Reggie the Racer” was how people greeted him. So famous he was constantly asked to sign autographs in restaurants. That’s how it used to be.

~~~

The promoter came outa nowhere. His name was Bryce. B.R. Bryce. And what he promoted was spectacles on TV. Not just races. But when he did races, it was with a theme. He had heard Reggie had woken up after five years, and after ascertaining his condition, visited and made a proposal: he’d bankroll a one-time return to the track for Reggie.

Reggie had a million questions–what kind of car? What was the power? Did it have limited slip? What was the track surface? But Bryce, always smiling a con man’s kind of smile, was short on details. “Don’t worry. We got a car a vintage Porsche we found. We also found a guy who’s worked with internal combustion engines and he’s makin’ that SOB sing.”

Porsche '52 Gmund SL2

The car they chose for him was a surprise, an old Porsche 356. Examining it he realized it was aluminum, but thought they only made alloy ones at Gmund. Then he remembered some old leftover ones were completed after they moved to Germany. This was one of those. How did they get a car so valuable? Well, after the Greens took over they closed all the car museums (“internal combustion–bad influence”) so a few cars survived….

The phrase “found a guy who has worked with internal combustion engines” bothered Reggie. You mean the law of 2024 outlawed internal combustion? He asked Bryce but Bryce smiled with that double row of store bought teeth. “Not to worry. We got permission. One day’s run. For the race.”

Reggie relaxed. A lot of guys got out of the Hospital but you never heard of them again. He’d be not only comin’ out but, first day out, starring in a a big whoopie-do promotion with a lot of razz-ma-tazz.

He especially like the poster. It was headlined “The Return of Reggie the Racer” with his picture and his old car. The other cars were so small he couldn’t make them out. It would be nice if he knew what he was running against, or, for that matter. Who? Would there be any of the old guys? Larry the Loser? Biff the Bold, Madman Mike?

~~~

The day of the race he was driven by autonomous bus out to the track. There were easily 40,000 people in the stands. He was driven right up to his car and donned the track suit and helmet and gloves and shoes and jumped in and revved the engine. Good oil pressure. When he shut it off it was deathly quiet, nobody else was revvin’ their engines. Then he realized, it was 2025, they didn’t have internal combustion engines, They had electric motors. Every car in America he was told, except for his race car at this moment, was electric. Well, so be it, he said as he fastened his shoulder harness.

He’d give them a race, god damn it. It was a good start. He was in the lead. He punched it just as the flat fell and made it to the first turn with a three car length lead over anyone else. But make no mistake about it. The others caught up in seconds. God, these cars were quick.

Within seconds they were neck and neck. He glanced over at the other driver, in the car closest. It was “Madman” Mike! But then he remembered, “Madman” had bought the farm in Altoona in a flip over the rail so it couldn’t be. He began to sneak glances at other drivers jockeying to pass him He recognized other familiar faces. Then he realized the faces had been painted on, that every driver out here today was a robot. He was the only human in the race!

Well he’d just have to show the crowd in the stands who was boss of the track. It was a 20 lap event. More than halfway through, he found himself running neck and neck lap after lap with “Madman” Mike. At one point, Mike tried to nerf him into the wall. Reggie fought back, amazed that Mike would make such a bad move, but then realized grimly. He wasn’t dealing with the real “Madman” Mike, no, this “Mike” was but a robot who wasn’t at all worried about being hurt or killed because robots didn’t feel pain. They just ran until their batteries ran out or a motor broke or they hit something, but they didn’t feel pain.

As he noted he had three laps left, he saw some preparations being made to celebrate the winner. At the finish line, as he passed, they were unrolling a sign and with a shock he realized the last word on the banner they were getting ready to hang was “Mike.” So the organizers were planning on “Madman” Mike being the winner. It was a setup.

They would make sure he didn’t win. Reggie grimaced, as he shot past the grandstand again, the crowd was just sitting down, having stood up in one group to cheer on Mike who had passed him again with an insane maneuver.

He glanced at the crowd, in the first row. All their faces had a similar sheen, that phony flesh color they sprayed on them to make the carbon fiber look like skin. So they were robots too! So that was Bryce’s schtick–to pit a bunch of robots against a lone human in a contest of some sort and see who wins. Bryce would simulcast it and all over the world racing fans would see a human fail once again. Those humans–such losers…

It was ancient Rome in a way. He was a gladiator against the lions but the fix was in. He would lose, just as the gladiators lost. Now there was but fifty feet to the finish. He downshifted and as the tach wound to eight grand. He had to admire the old mechanic they had found, this guy knew how to build an old air cooled Porsche…

Then “Madman” Mike did what he had expected, turned right in front of him so Reggie would be forced to T-bone him. Madman was smiling now, an insane grin, daring him to do it. But Raging Reggie knew how to go into a two wheel drift and did it, smacking the Madman’s car side-to-side. Then he downshifted, regained traction, and went around the nose of Madman’s crippled car and was first across the line. But nobody in the stands was standing and cheering. The robots were sullen. Maybe Bryce had a control button, he could uniformly control their actions.

Reggie, sweat pouring out of his pores, slid into the pits. His pit crew had vanished. He had done it. Raging Reggie had triumphed for all humanity!. And apparently nobody cared.

He got out of his race car. Bryce, stone faced for once, had the van waiting, Bryce jammed a trophy into his hand and shoved him into the van. Reggie realized it wasn’t supposed to end this way. He had deviated from the script. The script that Bryce had never showed him. After all, Reggie figured, Bryce was doing these programs because he was being paid to kill initiative in the remaining humans.

To show the world these humans, these poor pathetic pitiful wretches comprised of flesh and blood, would never win…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss reports seeing a video of a robot driving a race track so maybe this is not so far into the future….

 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary
Fiction: Raging Reggie and the Robots
Article Name
Fiction: Raging Reggie and the Robots
Description
In the not too distant future robots race humans and Reggie was a gladiator against the lions but the fix was in, he would lose, just as the gladiators lost in the distant past.
Author

Comments

  1. A very clever story that, hopefully, will never be factual. I lam 76, and love my 1980 911SC and my 1957 TR3 too much, and intend to pass them on to my two children when I die. Hopefully they will enjoy them as much as I have and your story will never come true.

  2. wallace wyss says

    a future president could be elected on a ban-internal-combustion engines platform. I saw a video of a robot driving race car taking a lap. See here:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDThZNmxhmEOfp0sm7HtFvw

    They are already proposing humans vs. robots…
    Enthusiasts, fasten your seat belts, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

  3. wallace wyss says

    Another video of a robot car taking a lap after a human. True, not on track at the same time so it remains to be seen whar devious tricks the Bot will do if given the chance

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C4FJilePPU

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