John Powers is passionate, insightful and protective of everyone from his disabled sister to an abandoned puppy. John is also intensely driven. Since his first soapbox derby at age eleven, John has desired to break into the NASCAR circuit of the 1950’s.
With support from Pop, his mentor and family friend, John cuts his chops on the emerging dirt tracks near his hometown of Pittsburgh and soon moves into the Midwest Association of Race Cars’ new car circuit while barely out of high school. His personal disappointments and setbacks only make him more determined in his chase for Victory Lane.
The pursuit is costly. As he matures into one of the greatest racers of his time, he looks at those people who have helped him reach his dream and values them only for how they support his quest. Years later, elderly and dying in the hospital, no one comes to his side.
While anticipating a visit from his estranged son, the hospital calls a code yellow: John Powers has disappeared. Where he ends up provides the chance to alter his life’s course … if he is willing to change history.
With several hours of freedom stretching before him, John still found himself walking toward the garage. He would just take a quick look; he couldn’t go a day without thinking, planning, visualizing. He walked slowly, coveting the new 1951 models that occasionally passed by, envying the drivers their ownership of such fine machines.
He stopped in Sal’s diner for a meatloaf sandwich and a Coke to prolong the afternoon. From his seat in the front booth, he could see Pop’s Garage across the street. She was in there, his entry to a life he had dreamed about since Dad had taken him to the first NASCAR strictly stock race at Charlotte Speedway in ’49. While other kids collected baseball cards, John followed the NASCAR stats as Red Byron and Lee Petty battled for first place. The ’40 Ford made racing tangible, as though it could really happen, tucked away in a womb of possibility. It was unseen from anyone outside, covered in a tarp of secrecy and away from prying eyes.
He bit into his warm sandwich, watching the sun sparkle against the red-lettered sign in front: “Pop’s Garage, the best service, the best price.” The office sat clean and empty, a line of chrome-framed chairs cushioned with crimson Naugahyde behind the wall-length window. John knew Pop was proud of his business; it was the most important thing in his life. Perhaps the Powers family was more important. No, on further contemplation, John determined what meant the most to Pop, at least right now. It was him, John Powers, his youth, and his gumption to do what Pop had wanted to do over a decade ago.
Things were different then. There was the money, the stigma that racing was full of lawless moonshiners, his age, and the time away from a business he was trying to keep running. Perhaps his customers would stop coming if they knew. Pop had a string of excuses for not doing what he really wanted to. That’s all they seemed to John, excuses, and poor ones at that. If a person had a desire so tough it penetrated the shield of daily responsibility, playing like scenes from a movie over and over until his heart pounded just from the thought of it, then he should make it happen. To hell with what other people thought. There would be no excuses with him. He would do it for Pop—he would do it for his own sanity.
D. T. DIGNAN’Sinspiration for Race from the Finish came from a red and white 1956 Chevy Bel Air Sport Coupe and a vision of the driver who would test her limits. With its new small block engine, the Bel Air was deemed ‘the hot one,’ climbing Pikes Peak in record time.