Race driver turned team manager (and head of the Mastin sports car factory) Clive Darrell (Edward Mulhare), still in love with his wife Rhona (Sally Ann Howes), returns signed divorce papers to her in an amicable spirit, but she lashes out at him for ingratiating himself with her father to become head of the race car company, only marrying her with that goal in mind.
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Chronology of Events
En route - Molinos
Wednesday, December 15
From the first moment I knew about the diagnosis, not just my own life, but Kate's too, has been thrown into a vortex, even the good times we've had together preceded or followed by misery.
These hours at Santa Margarita have convinced us that, if there is any solace to be had, it is in protecting our relationship, and making it a source of sustenance - isolating it from the real world, if that's what it takes.
When we said goodbye this morning, Kate put something in my pocket, and when I reached to find what it was, put her own hand on mine. It was a talisman, she said, a reminder of all we had here, and something I could have to reach for at any moment - a tiny ball of wool she'd spun yesterday.
We agreed to hold on to the romantic thought of Christmas Eve together in nine days. I visualized a large tree full of lights in Katie's old apartment, something she wanted to do just for me, despite her mourning.
For the first time in all these months of trying to expand my days, I want the ones ahead to disappear in order for Christmas to come.
Got a charter to Acapulco, and from there, a commercial flight to San Salvador where Pete was waiting. He looked incredibly refreshed and healthy from his month on a paradise island in the Pacific, apparently living on almost nothing but fruit and yogurt - obviously June's idea.
Calling himself a steak and champagne man, Pete said that he was dying to start eating real food again, but both of us had to admit that the fruit and veg diet had made us feel a lot better - even though mine had been so short lived.
On the train to Molinos, We caught up on everything since Athens. Told him I'd nearly missed the race over memory loss, and could see immediately that he'd latched onto a hook to torture me with unending jibes.
Pete's made an agreement with the Mastin works to use their 1964 model at a price that meets our budget for the “tropical” season. Stepping up from rallying may be our undoing, but if we're successful, I'm hoping that we can go for Formula 1 in May.
While I'm supposed to be underwriting the team, that certainly wouldn't be within my range, and we're going to have to think about pulling in investors. We talked about possibilities, avoiding the discussion of the obvious two who could make it possible.
Instead, Pete came up with a name I'd never have thought of - Rachel Pike. I couldn't imagine her parting with a cent that wouldn't turn into a dollar, but Pete had worked up a proposal, and showed it to me. I was dubious.
After dinner we went on talking till late, and I found myself like a kid again, wide-eyed at all the information and experience that resided in my old friend's head.
Paul and Pete arrive in Molinos to participate in the 24-hour endurance race
Thursday, December 16
Before race qualification, I had to go through a few paces with the stewards to get a temporary licence to drive in the race. It was easy enough, but Pete said it wouldn't have been such a snap like obtaining the general licence I had if it weren't for my actual driving skills.
We qualified for the race, but Pete was totally unsatisfied with the engine in our Mastin - feeling he had made a bad deal, and should have spent more time testing the machine before going off to the Pacific.
For once I had something to contribute, and suggested that, since both factory Mastins had failed to qualify, maybe we could get together with Clive Darrell, and form a partnership for this race using his brand new engine and our chassis which had a place on the grid.
Was surprised how fast Clive bought the idea, though he questioned my driving the middle stint. Pete said that the deal hinged on that, and Darrell, the driver turned principal - whom I'd always thought of as completely uncompromising - simply said OK.
Looking forward to the round of parties when I met Pete for dinner, I was surprised to learn that not only had he no date lined up for me, but that he was planning to go to bed after the meal.
“June's starting to have a bad influence on you,” I teased, but he reminded me that we were starting a 24-hour race tomorrow, and he was determined to be in the prize money.
Knowing very few drivers on this circuit, I left the restaurant myself shortly after Pete's departure, and went over to the Mastin garage. Rudy Bascarelli was still working - but not on our car, rather one of the two Darrell machines that had fallen out of qualifying.
With forthrightness he said that both his cars had been sabotaged, and made no bones about naming the suspected culprit - Clive's estranged wife Rhona. Sure, she is Miss Mastin herself. How could that be?
Ruefully, Rudy said that there was no point in telling Clive, as he'd never believe Rhona could do such a thing. They're about to divorce, and apparently, she begrudges the fact that her father left Clive the controlling interest in the Mastin factory.
Woke Pete up and showed him the broken component Rudy had given me. And though he was clear that the damage was deliberate, Pete couldn't believe that Rhona would harm her own car either.
It's apparently all about a love triangle between Rhona, Clive and the Mastin, she believing that Clive married her only to get control of her father's company, giving up driving as soon as they wed.
Left Pete to get back to sleep, and went out to see if I could find Rhona. She was cagey, Rudy having already confronted her about his suspicions, and I might as well have gone to bed for what I learned from her denials.
Although they qualify for the race, the Gaffney Bryan team car is too low in power, and they make a deal with Clive Darrell's Mastin team to use their engines, since both of the Darrell cars have failed to qualify.
The reason is that they were sabotaged, and the culprit appears to be Clive's wife, Rhona, whose father left the business to son-in-law and daughter 51-49.
The couple are just about to divorce because Rhona falsely believes that Clive gave up driving when he married her to get a hold of the car company.
Friday - Saturday, December 17 - 18
Race day, and we're in a mess before we start. Clive drove the track with me, but implied that I was trying to seduce his wife. Wow! Wasn't that in left field!
So I told him what Rudy was afraid to - that I believed Rhona to be sabotaging his cars - and for that matter, putting my life and Pete's in danger.
Fair play to him, Clive went into action immediately, and suspended all his mechanics, pending someone coming forward, then sacked the lot when no one did, and put our team in charge of the car - with Rudy supervising.
We made a decent start, but after a short while, Pete found the engine skipping over 5400 rpm. Our boys managed to get the Mastin up and running smoothly again, but after four hours, Pete encountered the problem anew, just when we'd started to get a good position. And on top of that, it was raining.
Our mechanics looked helpless, and Rudy made a kind of Stand Back gesture, and buried himself in the engine, then pulled out a piece of steel wool that had been causing the problem.
When I took over after eight hours, we were in a good position, but the sky was full of lightning. It was magic! A real test of my driving skill, and despite our lengthy unscheduled stops, I got the car up to sixth place. Exhilarating!!
But then I saw a board to make a pit stop. My race was over, and Clive - who hasn't driven competitively for years, insisted on taking the wheel.
I couldn't understand what was going on, but Clive simply pushed me aside, and was away before I knew what happened to me. For a guy out of practice, he made some incredible moves, but was driving like a mad man.
It struck me full force, what Rudy had said about Rhona divorcing her husband because he'd given up driving for engineering and design. This drive was simply trying to impress her - at the expense of Gaffney Bryan.
So I went into the stands to see if Rhona could get me the drive back. If he didn't hand the car over, I felt sure that Clive would be killed.
In fairness to her, Rhona did come to the pit, and when Clive made a scheduled stop for fuel, she admitted the sabotage, and begged him to get out of the car, even offering him whatever funds he needed to keep the Mastin factory going.
He said he never believed she could have been behind the sabotage, but instead of giving over the drive, he took off and drove even faster, bringing us to third place after 13 hours …. and then he crashed.
Fortunately, he wasn't hurt - but our chances of prize money - what little it might be, considering we were paying for the new Mastin engine, were gone, and GB has started the tropical season in the red. Only consolation was that the ultimate winner was that ever-great guy, Hank Rogers.
He wasn't the only one for whom it wasn't all doom and gloom. Clive and Rhona seemed to have found they still have something together, but Pete and I could only look on with chagrin.
We went back to the hotel instead of staying for the rest of the race, but when I woke up, found a note under my door with an invitation to dinner from “C & R.”
Pete had one too, and we encountered a pair of love birds waiting for us. They were eager to put forward their plan, each constantly deferring to one another.
It could have been a comic routine, but what they had to say was damned serious for Pete and myself. Their proposal, basically, is to provide two constantly updated Mastins to Gaffney Brian, and underwrite our expenses for the tropical season.
Pete would get one car, with the other to be driven by me or by Clive. All they wanted was for the name Mastin to be added to our team name.
My first thought was Rhona's remark that Clive needed to run things he was involved in, and I figured this would never suit Pete, but Clive brought the matter up himself, and said that Pete would have the last word on all race decisions.
Of course, we both wanted to know the rationale behind this offer - and they had the answer to that too. They had decided to resurrect the more-or-less defunct Mastin road car, and go back into production with it.
The factory was sitting idle, and the plans for a new model were something Clive was constantly tinkering with. Until now, finances were such that it had been barely possible to keep the race car going, but with Rhona's cash injection, both the road and track cars would complement each other.
Clive admitted though, that he'd never be able to both nurture an engine and chassis design at the same time as running a race operation. He felt that we were a natural team, and the way we'd gotten through a difficult situation so quickly and so well together proved that.
I decided to say nothing, and see how Pete would handle this. He first asked whether they were heading back to London, and when they looked at each other first before saying yes, he suggested that they all fly there together, and talk a little more.
Pete and I went back to my suite then, and spoke about the bombshell. He said that Clive Darrell had a scrupulous reputation, however dodgy Rhona might be.
But there was no question that we needed to see her financial commitment in the bank before making any ourselves, and agreed that we shouldn't get too excited at what might be a 24-hour love affair.
Since he's going to see June in London next week anyway, we have nothing to lose talking. Pete's entered our car in a race in Tunis on February 6, so we'll see whether the Darrells make a Mastin available for that before signing a contract.
19 - 23 December 1965 ("The Edge of the Volcano")
When Clive learns about the sabotage, he fires all his mechanical team., but Rhona manages to infiltrate the Gaffney Bryan team.
The car underperforms, and some steel wool is found in the engine, and after eight hours, Pete has the car in a decent position when he turns it over to Paul.
After two hours, out of the blue, Clive decides to take the drive to impress his wife, and races the Gaffney Bryan vehicle radically into third place.
Paul gets Rhona to try and stop Clive before he is killed, and she admits to the sabotage along with offering money to save the failing Mastin works.
But Clive drives on until he crashes.
The couple reunite, and at dinner, make a proposal to offer Pete and Paul two up-to-the minute Mastins for the season ahead.