"Oh Chrysler... what is this!" Chick Hicks muttered to himself nervously as he glanced up the unpaved road.

Near the junction of Highway 40, the setting sun gleamed on the chrome of several well-waxed automobiles parked just off-road. The young cars would've never been there, Chick thought ruefully, if it wasn't for their rich parents commuting to Indianapolis and its suburbs two hours away. Now they had nothing better to do than go parking and wait for vehicles like Chick Hicks.

Chick's fuel pump hammered (despite his best efforts to keep his RPMs down), and the boxy young car slunk as low to the road as he could. His brake pads were so worn as to make of a mockery of his stealth, and his tires only had the faintest suggestion of treads, but Chick had his adult frame and body. His father and mother talked endlessly of the recent expense, and Chick understood that he would have to wait for more replacement parts, or a set of new tires.

Besides, his father griped, a real Hicks boy would enjoy having a racer's slick tires. Chick had never seen an oval track outside of magazines (besides the cracked and dusty one at the highschool), and despite his genuine love for racing, he cursed his poor handling on the shifty dirt and rutted lanes of country roads.

Chick scowled and looked at the ground when a whoop told him that he'd been spotted.

"Hey HICKS!" an insolent red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am model yelled, smiling brightly, "Hey Hicks from the Sticks! Are you tired out from running so many laps for Coach today?" The tan station wagon who was his constant companion (or so it seemed to Chick) laughed stupidly at this crack. A group of girls from the highschool tittered, anticipating a confrontation.

"What's it to you, Dayton!" Chick finally made eye contact with the sports car, determined to not be intimidated.

"Is that a threat, Hicks?" Dayton guffawed. "What are you going to do, spill moonshine on me? Break my mirrors with your squealing brakes!"

Chick gritted his teeth as he felt a blush rising, making him even more green with envy than before. It was true - his brakes had squealed, as soon as he pulled to a stop. His body still had the mushy suspension and loose cornering of his awkward middle-school years, only now there was almost an extra ton of inertia behind his 5-liter V8.

"You think you're so hot, Dayton!" Chick blustered desperately, "Just because you live on your allowance from daddy doesn't make you any better than me! I could take on you and your show-boat friends any day!"

A mocking whistle and laughter echoed from the crowd of older students, but from his down-turned fender and narrowed eyes, the Trans Am looked all business.

"Is that a fact, you funny-looking brick on wheels? Let's go right now! Me and my show-boat buddies will race you to Exit 62!"

Groans and cries of protest arose from the highschoolers, who mostly begged off for less strenuous pursuits, but a core of accessorized high-performance vehicles (and one unhappy-looking tan station wagon) rolled forward to surround Dayton and stare down Chick Hicks, who returned their hostility.

Without warning, the highschool students revved their engines and took off in a shower of gravel and turf, laughing wildly as their tires spun. "Kiss my spoiler, Hicks!" were Dayton's parting words.

Squinting against the debris flung in his face, Chick gunned his engine and sped after them. His anxiety made him shift gears too quickly on the uncertain dirt road, but once his tires hit asphalt Chick was in familiar territory. Gleefully, he blew past the tan station wagon.

"Eat my dust, loser!" Chick yelled breathlessly. The wagon made some reply, but Chick couldn't hear him over the roaring wind and the clatter of his own top-speed driving. The G-platform coupe fairly shook with the effort as he strained to pull even with more challenging racers.

With Exit 59 in sight beneath a glowing red sky, Chick finally passed one of Dayton's inner circle, a white Camaro who served after the the departing car with an angry howl. But the brakelights of Dayton himself, and two other rakishly styled automobiles, remained a maddening three or four car-lengths away.

Adding to Chick's woes, the highway itself began to twist into winding curves, and the cement divider loomed menacingly close to the racing cars, adding a challenge of angular momentum to their high-speed pursuit. Across both northbound lanes, a slippery blend of tar patchwork and hastily mended frost heaves confounded the driver.

Chick skidded back and forth and he oversteered through each turn, and he ignored the pain in his abused engine and drivetrain as he pulled within striking distance of the three fancy sports cars. At was at this point that Dayton and his companions began to toy with the furious Chick, constantly tapping their brakes and moving to block him when the green car attempted to pass.

The racket of Chick's shrieking brakes and skidding tires could be heard even above the deafening roar of engines, and laughter floated back on the wind. Almost blind with fury and humiliation, Chick saw Dayton's rear bumper just to his right - the Trans Am was enjoying himself too much to maintain speed.

Summoning a desperate burst of energy, Chick swerved to hit Dayton's bumper. The surprised red car let out a yelp as he was shoved to the side, and he quickly opened his throttle to shoot forward, away from Chick.

Dayton needn't have put so much effort into escaping. Microseconds after he made contact with Dayton, Chick completely lost control of himself and spun out. For Chick, there was a terrifying instant when he realized that he was too far beyond his top speed and capabilities to drive through the spin, then the cement barrier hit him in a star-studded explosion of pain.

"Oh scrap oh scrap oh scrap!" A nervous voice cut through the blackness as Chick slowly regained consciousness, his eyes still shut.

"If my parents find out about this, Dayton, I am going to be grounded for weeks! And you can forget about that new suspension kit and -"

"Shut UP! No one is going to get in trouble, and no one has to know about this!" The last voice was Dayton's - furious, but still tinged with uncertainty and fear.

"Hey look, he's waking up!"

"What did I tell you!" Dayton snorted, "He's built like a tank! You could probably hit that dumb car with a train and he'd drive away... as slowly as ever!" In their high-strung condition, the three cars laughed with a hysterical edge.

"Hey HICKS!" Dayton nudged the groaning Chick with a tire. "Hicks! Wake up, loser!"

"What... what... Dayton!" Chick spoke thickly, shuddering as he felt unfamiliar fluids sloshing around inside him. His undercarriage felt wet, and even his jaw ached from the impact with the wall.

"You tried to hit me, but all you did was crash yourself! Think you can limp on home, or do we we have to find a road-side phone and drag your sorry frame to the mechanic? Think your parents can afford that?"

"Just... get out... of my sight!" Chick's voice was a whisper, but the look of pure hatred on his face made his intentions clear. As a trail of smoke started from his hood, Chick rose up on his axles, determined to drive home under his own power.

"Fine, suit yourself! C'mon boys," Dayton sneered, "Let's blow this dump before we catch loser germs!" With nervous glances and weak laughter, the three cars sped from the scene.

Finally alone, Chick felt tears pricking at his windshield.

Just when Chick thought his journey home couldn't get any worse, some new thing went wrong. His smoking engine block made him feel groggy and disoriented, his twisted frame made him stumble on level ground, and for the past few miles parts of him were scraping the road. He had taken the first exit off the highway, eager to disappear on back-country lanes as soon as possible, but that only added more time to his agonizing trip.

The moon was high as Chick finally turned down the rutted path, barely visible in the weeds, that lead to the Hicks homestead. Until she was practically on top of him, he didn't notice the black car who waited quietly outside the house.

"Chick! What happened you!" Regal Hicks' golden-brown eyes opened wide with concern. Her features were more delicate, but there was no mistaking the twin sister of Chick Hicks. Regal's body lines perfectly echoed those of her brother, from her squared front end to the spoiler angled aggressively on her rear.

"Dayton and his friends... raced me... and I spun out of..."

"Shhhh! I think I hear Dad!" Protectively, Regal positioned herself in front of her brother as a door rolled up and light flooded the scene.

"Is that you, boy!" Buick Hicks squinted uncertainly in the dark. His eyes had a bleary look, and the siblings could smell the gasohol that seemed to drift off him in waves. A nasty grin spread across his grill when he noticed Chick.

"Ain't you a sight, boy! It looks like you went racing - and lost!" A thought seemed to occur to the elder Hicks, and he frowned suddenly.

"And where are the groceries, boy! I told you to get me three cases of ethanol!"

"I... didn't have time... and then I couldn't..." Chick's words were cut off in a choking cough, and the young car winced as dark fluid trickled down his bottom lip.

"Daddy, he needs a mechanic! He's been hurt real bad!" Regal gasped as she soberly surveyed the damage in better light.

"OH FOR CHRYSLER'S SAKE," a womanly voice yelled from inside the home, "What is all this racket at this time of night! What are you bad kids doing now?" Scarcely in better shape than her husband, Marlee Hicks rolled to the open door and stared open-mouthed at her battered son.

"There goes my paycheck!" Buick spat, as the extent of his son's injuries dawned on him at last. "Marlee, you had better call a tow truck... I don't know how the little cuss got back here, but he ain't going nowhere right now."

As his wife staggered towards the house phone, knocking over empty bottles along the way, Buick leaned forward to frown at his progeny. Instinctively, Regal withdrew from striking range, although she continued to huddle against Chick's quarter panels.

"You ain't got to explain anything, boy, " Buick began, his eyes flickering disdainfully over the scene, "I know a wrecked loser when I see one. You cost me a lot of money tonight, you know that boy? Heck, I'm already in debt up to my axles over you kids! I'd blame your mother for ordering twins, but maybe one of you kids won't be a disappointment to me."

Chick barely heard him over the roar in his ears. His coolant had drained away on the journey home, and now a nimbus of light seemed to surround his father, wavering like the smoke from Chick's hood. Regal calling his name was the last thing he noticed before slipping into unconsciousness again.

It was a subdued Chick Hicks who returned to school four days later. Where his left side had slammed into the cement divider, there was now an ugly-looking coat of primer and Bondo, and his timing belt and transmission still rattled painfully. Dayton couldn't take credit for Chick's half-closed right eye, however - a jug of ethanol had bounced off his face thanks to Buick Hicks.

Of course the entire school already knew what happened. Even if no policecar was called, word got around fast. Chick dreaded the mockery he would receive, but the other vehicles seemed mostly respectful, even a bit fearful. Chick might have lost, but he was getting a reputation as a hard-edged racer nonetheless.

And then there was Regal. Chick's sister had no qualms about bumping and pushing other cars out of her injured brother's way, and the black coupe snarled menacingly at any vehicle who dared to look at him funny.

"Thanks, sis," Chick smiled warmly after Regal cowed a gawking young truck. "I don't know how I can pay you back for this, but I owe you one."

Maternally, Regal nuzzled him. "It's nothing, baby bro... don't forget that I was first off the assembly line!"

But even Regal couldn't save him from Coach Fairlane, who nearly blew a gasket screaming at Chick (and Regal too, for good measure) about how the twins' irresponsible street racing and rambunctious streak might cost Petroliana H.S. the county title in racing.

"I don't care if you have no respect for this highschool, Mr. Hicks," the aging racecar ranted, "Or maybe our track isn't fancy enough for you! But I have twenty young vehicles on this team who don't wreck themselves in extracurricular activities, and they're all hungry for your spot!"

"I'm sorry Coach," Chick mumbled, blinking his good eye, "It won't happen again."

"You had better see that it doesn't! Now get the hell out of my office, and you make damn sure that you are ready for practice on Monday!"

"Well, that went well!" Regal commented lightly, once the door slammed down on Coach's office. But Chick only scowled, lost in his thoughts. He would be ready for practice on Monday, alright - and the rest of the team had better watch out.

Author's Notes: This in an unofficial work of fan fiction, in no way affiliated with Disney/Pixar. As in the movie Cars, the makes and models of my characters are suggestive of their relative human ages, but the correspondence is not exact. A younger car might resemble a vintage make and vice-versa.

I'm not a fan of original characters, as a rule of thumb, but in the Cars universe creating OCs seems almost inevitable. I hope mine are at least tolerable! The maiden name of Chick's mother is Marlee Carlo - get it: And Chick's father is an older Buick Regal model, thusly explaining where Chick gets his half Buick Regal, half Monte Carlo appearance.

I am committed to writing additional chapters of this story, but I am a slow writer and I warn you that it might take awhile. It took me flippin' forever to write the first installment. In the meantime, I really look forward to comments and feedback on this, my FIRST EVAR published fanfic! Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to review my first chapter. :)