by Robert Williams
"It really is most embarrassing," moaned Clive in the cafe one morning. "Your cars are lowering the tone of the neighbourhood!"
Outside the cafe was parked Des's Fiat 126, Wayne's Ford Escort van, Mike's Ford Cortina and Clive's BMW 735i.
"I'm embarrassed to park my BMW next to those heaps of junk!" exclaimed Clive. "Why can't you lot buy some decent cars?!"
"Because then we wouldn't be able to go banger racing!" exclaimed Mike.
"Banger racing?!!" exclaimed the others.
"That sounds really stupid," said Mrs Greasy. "How can you race sausages?"
"Like this!" said Wayne who had already lined up his sausages and was cheering them on.
"Not those kinds of bangers!" said Des. "Mike means old cars like Clive's BMW!"
"I'm not entering my BMW into it!" said Clive.
"I think it sounds a brilliant idea!" said Des. "But where shall we hold our banger race?"
"We need a gihugeous open space," said Mike. "But I bet the council won't let us use the park!"
"We've made far too many mess-ups in the park," said Mick. "What about Farmer Files's farm? Then he could enter his Land Rover in it as well."
"Great!" said Mike.
"And I'll enter my scooter!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Hey man!" said Dave Presley who hadn't said very much as he had been concentrating on eating hamburgers. "What about me?"
"Hey, you can borrow my mega-tastic Mini Clubman spaceship!" said Mike. "As long as you don't cheat with it!".
"Oh great, man!" said Dave sarcastically, as that Mini Clubman did not really hold too many pleasant memories for him.
"I wonder if Dickie the Vicar might want to enter," said Mick.
"What does he drive then?" asked Des.
"Have you seen his new churchmobile?" said Mick. "It's an old Montego estate with a spire built on the roof!"
"He'll take part," said Des. "That's seven participants, that'll be enough! I'm looking forward to this already!"
The day of the great banger race arrived. The teams were as follows: Des and Mick in Des's white Fiat 126, Wayne and Clive in Wayne's blue Ford Escort van, Files in his Land Rover, Mrs Greasy on her scooter, Dickie in his churchmobile, Dave in Mike's orange Mini Clubman and Mike in his bright green Ford Cortina (with compulsory options furry dice and leopard-skin seat covers). They gathered in Files's farmyard.
"I've taken measures to protect my Fiat 126," said Des, who had attached pillows and cushions to his little car. "These Fiats are becoming rarer and rarer, so I can't take any chances in case Mrs Greasy careers into me!"
"Are you insinuating I can't drive my scooter properly?!" said Mrs Greasy.
"Yes!!" exclaimed Des. Mrs Greasy was not pleased.
"I like your churchmobile, Dickie!" said Mike. "But I thought it was supposed to have a spire on top!"
"It has! Just watch this!" said Dickie. He jumped inside the car, pressed a button and the spire gradually rose up from the roof.
"That's brilliant!" said Des. "What did you buy it for, anyway?"
"So I can take my church into the community!" said Dickie. "It's so my parishioners who aren't able to attend my fab Sunday services can still benefit from hearing my groovy sermons!"
"Oh no!" said Des. "That means no one is safe any more!"
"Have you seen Clive yet?" said Mick. "I thought he was supposed to be driving with Wayne!"
"Oh look, here he comes, in his tank," said Des. He then realised what he just said. "In his tank???!!!!"
"His tank??!!!" exclaimed Mick.
Clive stopped the tank, and jumped out.
"Hello," he said.
"What are you doing with that?" said Mick.
"This tank you mean?" said Clive. "I'm making a late entry into the banger race!"
"You can't enter that!" said Des.
"It's an old banger!" said Clive. "No one said it had to be a car!"
"Hmmm, well, I suppose we can let it through," said Des, who was perhaps a little concerned. "I don't think you're going to have much of a chance in that thing, though!"
"To me, it's not the winning that counts," said Clive.
"It's the taking part, is it?" said Mick.
"Something like that," said Clive.
"Shall we get this race started then?" said Mick.
The group of them leapt into their vehicles. Des and Mick had to quite literally leap into the Fiat 126, in fact through the windows (like they used to in 'The Dukes of Hazzard') since the protective pillows and cushions prevented them from opening the doors. They drove out onto the open field, where Files had used some old oil drums to mark out a circular course.
They lined up at the start. Mrs Greasy was a little concerned about the fact that she in her scooter was lined up alongside Clive in his tank. Ralph reluctantly had agreed to be the starter, and was armed with a pop gun to start the race.
Clive, meanwhile, had stalled his tank and was trying to work out how to start it again.
Ralph got ready to fire his pop gun.
"I wonder what this button does," said Clive to himself.
Clive pressed the button and to his great surprise fired a deafening shot. The others took this to mean the starting gun, and before poor Ralph had a chance to say 'go' the others had already rather noisily driven off.
In a cloud of smoke Ralph coughed and spluttered "Go!" and fired his pop gun rather pointlessly, not that anyone heard it.
All but one of the competitors drove frantically at top speed round the course and bashing into each other.
"Hey look at Clive in his tank!" said Des, looking in his rear view mirror. "He's still at the start!!"
Clive was stuck at the start desperately trying to restart his tank.
"This is no good!" he exclaimed. He was still sat there when the other competitors came racing round back to the start and overtook him.
Eventually Clive managed to start the tank and started to drive slowly round the course. But his speed compared to the others was virtually nothing.
"I wish we could all break up a bit!" said Des to Mick. "I can't make out who's in the lead!"
"I don't think we can break up!" said Mick. "Our bumper's got entangled with Wayne's!"
"I wonder how Mrs Greasy is on her scooter!" said Des.
Mrs Greasy, as it happens, was wedged between Files's Land Rover and Dickie's churchmobile, and was not enjoying the experience very much.
"Hey, watch out Wayne!" exclaimed Mike, as Wayne drove into the side of his Cortina and left him without a rear door.
"Shouldn't we be taking a little more care?" said Des, seeing this and starting to be a little concerned about his Fiat 126 making it through in one piece.
"This is what banger racing is about!" said Mick.
"Dickie's obviously worried as well!" said Des. "Look! He's saying his prayers!"
"Careful, we're coming back round to the start!" said Mick. "And there's Clive! He's hardly got past the start!"
But for Clive was not concerned. Winning the race was not the object of this exercise - destroying the other cars so their owners would be forced to buy some respectable vehicles was what he was after.
"Right, this is my big chance!" said Clive as the cars came up behind him. He got ready to start crushing the others' bangers to bits as they went past, but the pile of cars speeded past him too quickly for him. By the time Clive had time to compose himself the clouds of smoke surrounding the other cars had disappeared off round their third lap.
Coughing and spluttering through the fumes the others had left behind, Clive started steaming forward on his first lap.
"Ha, ha!! At last!!" he cried.
"Look! Look at him!!" exclaimed Mick, looking in the rear view mirror. They saw Clive coming up behind them with wild eyes and a devious grin. "Step on the accelerator!!"
Des slammed his foot hard on the floor, and drove straight into the back into Dave's Mini Clubman.
"I see what he was up to now!!" exclaimed Des. "There's only one thing we can do!!"
He drove at top speed across the track, causing the other competitors to go in all directions, through the oil drums and drove across the field to the main road.
"What are those nutters doing??" exclaimed Mike who was spinning around. "They must be bored with driving round in circles!! They're going to carry on on the main roads!! What a brillo idea!!!"
He blew his six-tone musical horn and slammed his foot on the accelerator, sending the competitors all over the place again. As soon as they regained composure, they quickly followed him, as they had mostly now realised what Clive's intentions were.
The banger race had now transferred to the main road, as all of the competitors drove crazily along, hoping they wouldn't come across any police cars. Meanwhile Clive wasted time by trying to do a three-point turn in his tank, and so nearly destroyed Files's pigsty (but luckily all of the pigs were inside the farmhouse watching 'Pigs Win Prizes').
Clive steamed across the field and onto the main road, and tried to catch up with the others.
"Look!" said Des, who, being in the least powerful car, had found himself and Mick at the back of the race, and so was concerned to see Clive's tank getting closer and closer in his rear view mirror. He put his foot down hard on the accelerator and drove in Files's Land Rover. Dave, meanwhile, had decided he had to cheat in order to save himself, and so had activated the flying mechanism on his Mini Clubman.
The population of Tolworth now the treat of seeing the bizarre sight of a line of old bangers, including a Land Rover, Fiat 126, a Montego churchmobile and a scooter at the front being chased by a tank, with a Mini Clubman flying above them.
Before long, the convoy of bangers, with Clive hot on their heels, headed into Surbiton town.
"What's going on?!" exclaimed Mike, who was second from the front. "How can we have a banger race in the middle of town?!"
They approached some traffic lights in the high street which were green, but turned amber and then red just as Mrs Greasy, who was in front on her scooter, was about to pass them. Being a law-abiding citizen, she drew to an abrupt halt right in front of the traffic lights.
"What's she doing??!!!" exclaimed Mike, slamming on the brakes. "Banger races don't stop for traffic lights!!!"
All down the line the competitors slammed on their brakes. However Clive, who was at the back in his tank, had a problem.
"How do you stop this thing??!!" he exclaimed, as he rapidly approached the others. He desperately tried everything to halt his tank, but nothing would work. In the end he steered left, narrowly missing Des's Fiat 126. He ended up driving over a line of parked cars.
"Oh look at Clive!" exclaimed Mick as they watched Clive destroying all the cars.
"I think he should be disqualified," said Des.
"Oh dear," said Clive as he reached the lights. He had now worked out how to stop his tank. Once he had ground to a halt he looked round to see a line of flattened cars alongside the line of old bangers with the competitors tut-tutting him. He then looked back and saw a displeased traffic warden looking at him.
"Well...um...I thought tanks had parking priority..."
The competitors all laughed at him. However they stopped laughing when a police car drew up alongside them.
"Oh hello PC Plod!" said Mike, grinning. "You're not going to arrest us for dangerous driving???!!"
"Oh no!" said PC Plod. "I saw what fun you were all having, and I wondered if I could join your banger race in my old police Vauxhall Viva!"
"Brilliant!" said Mike. "What do the rest of you think?!" he shouted back to the others.
For some reason they didn't seem very enthusiastic. Once the traffic lights had turned to green they decided it was best to drive carefully back home. Meanwhile for the next few hours many local people saw an old Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Viva driving maniacally on the roads, while at the same time Clive was trying to figure out how to pay his massive parking fine.
Copyright © Robert Williams
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