TWA Flight 334 eased toward Los Angeles Intl. Airport, and the lights of the sprawling city below rolled endlessly to the east. Jimmy Wilson looked out the window, and his seatmates Jack Underwood and Rusty Fernandez leaned over to get a look.

“Man, that’s a city,” Rusty said in amazement. “Makes Central City look like a small town.”

“I wonder where Ascot is from here?” Jack said. “I wish we were staying long enough to catch a CRA race!”

“It’s down toward Gardena,” Jimmy recalled. “I looked at their schedule. CRA is down at El Cajon this weekend.”

The idea of getting paid to drive a vehicle is what it’s all about for any racer, but the next few days would be new territory for Jimmy and the others.

USAC had hired them to help with some economy tests arranged by Chevrolet at the two-mile Golden Speedway east of the city. They would start tomorrow, and would work for a couple of days under the direction of Chevrolet engineers, with oversight from USAC officials.

Jimmy, Underwood, and Rusty would be joined by Bobby Mancini, David Post, and Steve Graffan, who came in on an earlier flight. As they reached the baggage claim area they were met by USAC official Mike Rydman, who handled the flagging duties for the sprint car division.

Rydman and Leon Hartke were in charge of USAC’s role in certifying all the data from the test.

“Chevrolet provided us some courtesy cars,” Rydman explained. “You three guys are sharing a car, and we’ve got it parked outside.”

“Where’s our hotel?” Jimmy asked.

“Out by the track. The traffic is still pretty heavy, but try and follow me. If we get separated, here’s the address. Be at the track tomorrow at 7 a.m.”

“Seven?” Rusty groaned. “That’s way too early! How about 10?”

“Be there at seven,” Rydman insisted. “And I’m tellin’ you guys right now, this ain’t a holiday. They’re payin’ you to work and if you show up late, I’ll tell em’ to dock your pay. Trust me, I can do it.”

Jimmy laughed. “OK, Scrooge. Don’t worry about us … we can find the hotel ourselves.”

Rydman scoffed. “You country bumpkins will be lucky if you don’t end up in Nevada.”

“Hey, that’s a great idea!” Underwood chimed in. “How far is it to Las Vegas? And what’s the name of that place … Mustang Ranch?”

“Keep it up, wise guy,” Rydman sneered. “You’re gonna end up on the midnight shift.”

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