by the dude
Fast cars and teenagers are frowned upon because of one man. Smedley Leadfoot.
| The name Leadfoot, once the title of a proud and wealthy family, is now applied to reckless teenage driving. The story of how this happened is long and tedious; therefore I will shorten it down to one event, which began the Leadfoot family’s spiral into infamy. This is the story of Smedley Leadfoot, dashing adventurer and reckless racecar operator.
Smedley Leadfoot cut a dashing figure of a man. From his polished leather riding boots to the pencil-thin mustache perched on his upper lip to the fleece aviator’s cap sitting upon his head. He was also living the dream. He had obtained a sizeable fortune the proper way-by inheriting it from his family- and he had just been engaged to a beautiful and famously wealthy young woman. His job consisted solely of breaking world records in the motorized transportation category. Cars were his favorite past time and cars were what brought him to the New York Automobile racing track on a pleasant June day in 1911. Unfortunately Smedley also was quite vain and had an ego that would easily sink a ship if ego’s weighed anything. His racing uniform was custom made and the car he entered into the contest was the best racing machine money could buy. As he sat in his racer, dubbed the Silver Sparrow he looked around with disdain at the two dozen other cars sitting around him. Their drivers were all similarly-but not nearly as nicely- dressed as he. He ran an experienced eye over the other cars and noted with satisfaction that none of the other cars would put out nearly as much horsepower as his. He then turned his attention to the track and remembered that it was two laps around a track totaling approximately sixty miles over a well graded dirt road. Nearly six thousand people would be attending and were spread out along the track and in stands around the starting line. Smedley smiled to himself as he lowered his goggles over his eyes and thought about the fame and prestige that would soon be his after winning this race. A short man in a wicker hat caught his attention as he walked into the middle of the track with a large checkered flag. The man then shouted for the racers to start their engines. Smedley heard this and made impatient motions to his mechanics on the sidelines and they scurried over to crank up the Sparrow’s large engine. All around the other cars coughed and came to life. Soon all other sounds were drowned out as the roar of the autos filled the air. There was a slight breeze, and Smedley nodded with satisfaction as all the exhaust was blown towards the free seating area.
Suddenly the small man began madly waving the flag and all the drivers jammed down on their accelerator pedals. Half of the machines instantly sputtered and died out; those who had purchased better quality autos lurched forward and began to pick up speed. The Sparrow quickly ate up the track as it launched ahead of the competition. Soon the world became nothing but a blurry watercolor image, accompanied by a merciless wind whipping into Smedley’s face. He felt nothing except the vibration of the car and the occasional bone- jarring bump as the car hit imperfections in the road. He zoomed through the starting line and finished his first lap amid thunderous applause, but he could hear none of it as the engine overpowered everything but his own thoughts. As the thirtieth mile marker flew past Smedley could already taste victory. He glanced over his shoulder and saw that no one was even close to him, and then settled into his seat for the remainder of the race. Suddenly he spotted a dust cloud in front of him. He soon spotted a car and realized that he was about to lap someone. With his ego as large as it was, he soon envisioned himself as the first man to ever lap another car in an automobile race. He pushed the car’s engine to the limit as he attempted to close the gap between the struggling automobile and his own. He would teach this cod a lesson that driving was a true gentleman’s sport and was not for the likes of men who could not compete with the finest equipment. He saw the driver of the other car look back and Smedley smiled with savage pleasure as he decided what to do. He would ram this man off the side of the road with his larger vehicle. The grandstands were in site as Smedley pulled alongside the other driver. The two men looked at each other and the other driver smiled shook his head, clearly demonstrating his good natured frustration with his autos poor performance. Smedley on the other hand made a most ungentlemanly gesture and began to turn towards the other car. The other driver stared at Smedley with what looked like a puzzled expression under his goggles. That expression quickly turned to shock as he realized what was about to happen. Smedley, with a triumphant look on his face, braced himself for the immanent impact, but none ever came. The driver of the other car was more quick-witted than Smedley could deign himself to realize, and he slammed on the brakes as Smedley had gotten closer and closer. Smedley’s body clinched in horror as he realized his mistake and his car flew off the side of the track and continued on its two left wheels. From the grandstand it appeared as if Smedley’s car might simply keep going until it came back down on all four wheels, but then gravity got the better of it and the car rolled over and then flipped end over end until it came to a grating halt upside down. The crowed let out a simultaneous groan as they watched the Sparrow careen out of control and crash. The driver whom Smedley had just tried to force off the road was gallant enough to forget stop his car and to run to Smedley’s aid. As the driver approached Smedley’s twisted and broken racer, the high grade gasoline in the tank caught fire and the car exploded in a massive fireball and the driver-having been sufficiently convinced that he could no longer help Smedley-sprinted to safety. Once the details of the accident were sorted out Smedley’s actions were viewed very negatively by the general public. So much in fact that the name became permanently marred and was turned into a not-so-admirable quality describing people who drive too fast or too recklessly.
So the next time you drive too fast for the comfort of your passengers and they call you a “Leadfoot,” remember the fate of poor Smedley and slow down. Otherwise you may end up dead, and you probably won’t go with a flashy send-off like Smedley had. It’ll be quick if you’re lucky; if you’re not you might spend several hours barely conscious as the doctors try to keep your brain from crushing itself inside your skull because you smashed your head on the windshield after driving fifty in a twenty-five. On a more cheery note you can avoid this grisly fate by driving like the friendly driver in the story who had the presence of mind to slow down. If you’ll avoid death by fiery car explosion and everyone will be happier for it.