“Yes, of course.” Feeling a little deflated, I follow Carrick as Nico turns away from us.
When we’ve reached Carrick’s side of the garage, I stop and ask, “So, what do you need me for?”
“Nothing. Just getting you away from Nico. He’s a pompous prick with a massive chip on his shoulder.”
I cover a laugh.
I want to agree, but I don’t want to be seen dissing a driver, especially of Nico’s caliber. It would be unprofessional of me.
“He’s definitely interesting,” I say, choosing my words carefully.
“He’s a twat. And I can guarantee whatever he said about me was probably only about sixty percent true. He just hates me because I won more races in my first two years than he has in his whole career. Fucking tosser.”
I laugh. I can’t stop this one.
I’ve noticed that Carrick does that a lot—makes me laugh.
I like it.
“My advice, don’t talk to Nico unless you absolutely have to.”
“Okay. Got it, boss.” Grinning cheekily, I give him a salute.
I see a light flicker in his eyes. “Boss? Hmm…I like that.”
He turns at the sound of his dad’s voice, who looks a little less than pleased when he sees Carrick is talking to me.
“Coming.” He lifts a hand to Owen. Looking back at me, Carrick says, “Catch you before the race, yeah?”
He gives me one of his heart-stopping smiles, leaving me feeling a little breathless, and then he turns to go with his dad.
I don’t really get a chance to talk to Carrick when he comes back down as we’re all busy as hell getting his car ready, and he goes straight outside, having photos taken, meeting people—sponsors most likely—and doing interviews. I notice how he laps up the attention of the grid girls and brolly dollies.
But I’m…whatever. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
When Carrick finally comes back in, it’s time for him to get in his car. I have my helmet on as do all the mechanics since we’re in the pit. But somehow, he manages to lock eyes with me.
He gives me a cheeky wink and then grabs his helmet, pulling it on over his fireproof balaclava. He climbs in the cockpit and gets strapped in. Ben fits his steering wheel, and Carrick’s good to go.
We all head back into the garage. I pull my helmet off, so I can watch the race on the screens.
I cast a glance at Uncle John, who is sitting at the control desk with Pierce and Owen.
Then, my eyes go back to the screens, and I watch as Carrick sets off on his warm-up lap. The roar of the engines vibrates through me.
God, I love this.
I watch as the cars zigzag from side to side along the straights, warming up their tires. But my eyes are mainly focused on Carrick’s car. The bright blue of his helmet glints in the sun.
Finally, all the cars file around the pit straight and take positions on the grid. Carrick is in pole position as he qualified first yesterday. It’s a great start to the season, and I know Carrick is happy with it.
Then, the atmosphere heightens, and I find myself holding my breath as the five traffic lights above the starting line glow red, red, red, red, red. Then, they go out…and it’s GO!
Carrick has a great start, taking the first corner like the pro he is.
As the laps go on, he starts to pull away from the pack, taking a good lead.
When he comes in for a tire change, the vibe is good all around. The pit crew gets to work on changing his tires.
Carrick stays in his car, watching the race on the screens above his head. When the tires are done, he’s heading back out onto the track.
He picks up his position in no time.
There are a few tense moments in the race, like when he drops down to second as Leandro Silva, a Brazilian driver, passes him.
I would never say this to Carrick—as it’s well known that Leandro and Carrick have a serious rivalry going on—but I love Leandro. Not in a creepy way, but in a hero-worship way. He’s an amazing driver. He’s not better than Carrick. He’s just different.
I hold my breath as Carrick nips up on the inside of a corner and takes his place back from Leandro.
The race is pretty much that way the whole time. It’s edgy and thrilling with Carrick fighting Leandro for pole position.
We’re on the final lap, and Carrick’s now in the lead, but there’s still that nervousness that he could lose his place in that last moment as Leandro is not one for giving up easily.
Carrick needs to win this. It’ll set his whole course for the rest of the season.
Crossing my fingers, I will him on.
Come on, Carrick. You can do it. Come on…
I’m counting down the last seconds, my heart pumping in my chest and my veins alive with adrenaline.
Then, he crosses the finish line, the checkered flag dropping.
He won! Yes!
I let out the breath I wasn’t even aware I had been holding and do a little happy jig on the spot.
I’m beaming from ear to ear—not just for Carrick, but also for the whole team and myself, too. I didn’t just get to watch, but I got to aid and be part of a Carrick Ryan win. This is only the beginning. There’s more to come. I feel an overwhelming sense of privilege right now.
I’m watching everyone in the garage, all clapping and cheering. The atmosphere is electric.
And I’m catapulted back to all the times I was with my dad when he won and how we would all celebrate in his garage.