Ricki the Racer

This is an adaptation of a story made up by my grandfather, E. Harlow Mortensen, who used to tell it to my dad as a little boy, who then told it to me. The basic plot is the same, although I changed a few of the names to make them more alliterative, added some details to the scenery of the race, and switched the type of cars. In the original story, the cars were Volkswagen Bugs, but so few kids today would know what that kind of car was that I decided just to say “race car.”

Ricki the Racer

Ricki the Racer loved to drive her little red race car. She had built the car herself, putting every piece in place from the pistons to the hubcaps. She practiced and practiced and practiced her driving, going on winding mountain roads, bumpy country lanes, and dusty desert highways. She had lots of practice races at the training track. Sometimes she won, but she learned even more from the races she lost.

For example, once when she was racing against Wonderful Wanda, she forgot to put enough gas in the tank and her car sputtered to a stop before it could reach the finish line. Oops! And in another race against Speedy Steve, she forgot to watch her rear view mirrors and Steve sped right past her on the last lap. Oh, no! And another time against Brilliant Brett, she spun out and ended up driving the wrong way. How embarrassing! But she kept driving and driving, and at last she was ready for her biggest race ever.

The Big Beach Grand Prix was the best race of the summer. The race course started down by the pier, went winding up the hills, dove down through a canyon, and then zipped along the beach to come back to the starting line. On the day of the race the sun was shining bright and all of the people gathered so see who would win. There was Wonderful Wanda in her white race car with two dark stripes. Speedy Steve had a silver car with a bright thunderbolt on the hood. Brilliant Brett had a shiny black car with a sparkling star on it. And there was Ricki the Racer, all ready for her first big race, next to her little red race car.

The judge stepped forward. “Ok, drivers,” she said. “Remember to buckle up and wear your helmets. No bumping each other’s cars. You will go around the racetrack, and the first person to cross the finish line wins!”

The drivers jumped into their cars. They buckled up, put on their helmets, and started their engines. ZEEEE went Wonderful Wanda’s car. GRRRR went Speedy Steve’s car. BWAAAA went Brilliant Brett’s car. Ricki started her engine. It went Rrr . . . rrr . . . rrr . . . ROAR.

“On your mark!” the judge called out. Ricki pulled her gloves snug onto her hands.

“Get set!” the judge cried louder. Ricki gripped the steering wheel tight.


Ricki stomped down on the gas pedal and her little red car took off like a rocket. The cars were off! All of the drivers pulled hard around the first turn, leaving the pier behind them. And Ricki was in first place. Her red race car pulled farther and farther ahead. In her rear view mirror she could see a white car, then a silver car, then a black car. In front of her the road rose up into the golden hills.

Just at that moment, Ricki saw a little white ball of fluff in the middle of the road. No, it wasn’t a ball of fluff. It was a puppy! It did not seem to know that it was sitting on a race track. Oh, no! Ricki thought. If I don’t stop, this little puppy will get hurt. But if I do stop, I will lose the race. Ricki frowned and fretted . . . and slammed on the brakes. Her red racer screeched to a halt right in front of the fluffy white puppy, who was looking around as if he were lost.

Ricki unbuckled her seat belt, leaped from the car, and ran forward. By now, Wonderful Wanda’s white car had caught up to her. ZEEEE! It passed by. Ricki scooped up the little puppy in her arms. Speedy Steve’s car went by. GRRRR! Ricki leaped back into her car and placed the puppy in the seat beside her, carefully buckling him in. As she started her engine, Brilliant Brett passed her by. BWAAAA! Ricki was in last place.

“I might lose the race, but at least I will finish,” Ricki told the puppy. She grabbed the wheel, slammed her foot on the gas pedal, and took off up the road, heading into the golden hills. She drove as fast as she could, and soon she was not far behind Brilliant Brett, who was zigzagging back and forth to try to block her from passing him. Ricki watched the black car carefully. First it zigged left. Then it zagged right. Ricki changed gears, slammed on the gas, and slipped around Brilliant Brett, leaving him behind her as she reached the top of the golden hills.

Now Ricki drove down into the winding shady canyon with steep walls made of orange rock. The cars could not drive so fast here, because there were bumps in the road and sharp turns around enormous boulders. Ricki could see that just ahead of her, Speedy Steve was zipping quickly around every corner. She drove as fast as she dared and soon she was closer behind him. But Speedy Steve was too speedy! Ricki could not catch him. But . . . Speedy Steve was too speedy, and as he took the last turn in the canyon, he lost control of his car and spun out onto the beach. Ricki’s little red racer roared past him and blasted out onto the sunshine.

The finish line was in the distance. “Well, puppy, what do you think?” Ricki said. “Can we catch up to Wonderful Wanda?” “Woof, woof!” said the puppy, which was his way of saying yes. The white car was shining in the bright sun up ahead of them. It went ZEEEE as it zipped along the beach. Ricki put her foot on the gas pedal and pushed it all the way down. She started to catch up. ROAR went the red racer. ZEEEE went the white car. Ricki had caught up to Wanda’s back tire. The little puppy began to bark with excitement.

Ricki held tight to the steering wheel. Now she had caught up to Wanda’s front tire. Wanda looked over and was surprised to see a dog sitting right next to Ricki in the little red racer. The drivers went as fast as they could go. First Wanda was in front. Then Ricki. Then Wanda. Then, just as they reached the finish line, Ricki pulled out ahead. She had won the race!

The crowd roared even louder than Ricki’s little red racer as the judge waved a black and white checkered flag. All of the drivers met at the finish line and shook hands.

“My goodness,” said Brilliant Brett, “I never thought you would win after stopping like that.”

“But it was the right thing to do,” said Speedy Steve as he patted the puppy’s head.

“That was the most exciting race I have ever been in!” said Wonderful Wanda. “Congratulations, Ricki!”

“Thank you,” said Ricki as the judge gave her an enormous golden trophy. Ricki thanked the judge for the trophy, but then she put it down and picked up the little dog, who happily licked her face. “You seem even better than a trophy,” Ricki said to the puppy. “I think I had better call you Lucky.”

And from that day on, Lucky was Ricki’s best friend and he came to every single race. He even had his own little red helmet to wear as he sat beside her in the race car. And he reminded Ricki that no matter how much fun it is to win, it’s even more fun to help others.


Ricki the Racer copyright 2020 by TQ Townsend. All rights reserved. This story may not be reproduced, sold, or publicly presented without the author’s permission. It may be shared in homes or schools for nonprofit entertainment.