Spanish GP: Still in Barcelona
Ninth in the Adventures of the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew
Article is written by and copyright (c) 1999 Jeff Rose,
by Inky Black
Before the Spanish Grand Prix, the Americans searched the junk shops and
salvage yards of Barcelona. Usually the tobacco-chewing pit crew from "way
down south" were looking for race car parts. This time they were looking for
After a month on the continent, the crew were low on everything. This
included moonshine. The BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew would have to make their
own, so they built a "still" in Barcelona.
They had found parts for a jet-car in San Marino; accessories for a Bugatti
in Monte Carlo. And more parts arrived every time a Minardi was dropped from
a crane. And there's not much difference between a race car and a
A still uses "external combustion wood" and the plumbing is a little
different. Just build it and fire it up before dawn so the smoke clears by
daybreak. After a bit you get a sweet supply of a clear, high-quality
alcohol called "moonshine." Best served at room temperature while sitting
At the Auto Salvage of Barcelona they found more than parts for the still.
Parked behind the sales hut was the longest car the girls had ever seen. It
looked like the world's oldest missile. Closer inspection revealed four
24-cylinder inline engines mounted one-after-another underneath the rusty
bonnet. The nameplate read "Los Hermanos Torpedos, 1929."
"Wowie! We can race this thing!" screamed the pit crew as they ran inside
the sales shack. Face to face with an old hombre, the girls breathlessly
asked "Does that thing run? Can we drive it?"
The old senor looked quietly at the girls and said, "Yo hablo espanol,
Oops! The girls shuffled their feet, again they were embarrassed here on the
continent where everybody talks funny. But bad manners and moonshine are
found the world over, and soon the old hombre had told his story.
"Los Hermanos Torpedos," were brothers who were fathers to the Spanish land
speed record, back when the infant sport was a sister to motor racing, and a
distant cousin of modern Grand Prix. The car even looked like a torpedo...
long and slim with a porthole fitted at the nose. The porthole came from the
cruise liner "Flamenco Queer," which due to an iceberg, and a typographical
error, went down in ignominy.
And "Yes, it runs and they could drive it!"
The girls worked on the car and found it to have tremendous straight-line
speed, but it cornered like a drag queen on nine-inch heels. No sense in
racing it, it wouldn't corner; they would need reverse gear just to get
around the hairpin. And, of course, the FIA would not approve. Not the FIA.
Not and never. But there was a way to show off with the "Flamenco Queer."
Oops, it had happened again. During the paint job it was the same
typographical error, and the forty-foot-long hot-rod received that same
The paint was surplus thermal coating from AnyTech. A dull gray when cool,
as the car warmed the paint would change through all of the colors of the
electric rainbow. And the paint would shimmer as the temperature changed
even slightly from one part of the car to the next. Both sides of the car
also carried the new name and the new slogan: "Nothing Drives Like a Hot-Rod
from Senor Torpedo!"
"There is a stretch of A7 towards Tarragona that's pretty straight,"
explained driver Cha Cha Chitwood, after an hour with a Catalunyan road map.
"We can get up to top speed there!" The crew agreed, and started to turn the
car around, a process that might take 15 minutes on a good day.
Senor Torpedo expected about 265 miles-per-hour. The crew added enough
moonshine to the fuel tank to break 300. And as the car went through the
police speed trap on Roadway A7, the indicator in the squad car said 305.
The police looked at the car and read the slogan as Cha Cha wriggled out of
the nose-cone. More police and the rest of the pit crew arrived as
spotlights added an eerie light to an already oddball scene.
The cops realized the crazy mess was a photo-opportunity, and the whole
police force turned out for the official photograph. Oh, and they jacked the
top speed up to 405 miles-per-hour to make better publicity for the police.
The local newspapers jacked it up to 505 to make Catalunya look more snappy.
The Official Spanish News Agency, with the honor of Spain at stake, declared
that the official top speed of 705 miles-per-hour was, that day, faster than
the speed of sound, due to an unusual crispness and density in the atmosphere
around mileposts 167 and 168.
The local officials were proud of the home-grown racing car, and they
inked-out their own press release to glorify the effort. The headline read,
"There are many fine cars in the world... But in the end, this is just what
the FIA needs!" Below those less-than-well-chosen words was a crisp
photograph of the forty-foot missile, which prominently displayed the slogan,
"Nothing Drives Like a Hot-Rod from Senor Torpedo!"
"Well, any publicity is good publicity," said Senor Torpedo, as he passed the
moonshine to the other seven people who were absolutely, positively, not
invited to the 1999 Spanish Grand Prix.
His other Travel and Humour Articles
can be found at Aloha from the Nervous Nineties.