Speed Chasers

by Alex Hamill. Shortlistee of the Best Chapter Book for 5-8-year-olds competition 2024


Kez is a tiny thumble and brilliant mechanic. She and her friends (Speed Chasers) live in Subterrano, a secret underground world. Only two buggy races stand between them and their dream–to become Terradrome Junior Champions and use the prize money to buy their workshop. But a stolen buggy and exposure to pollution throw a spanner in the works. Kez must conquer her worries and fly to the world above the drain to save her friend before racing to victory.

Chapter One

The Terradrome

Don’t move.

Not even a twitch.

I lie wedged beneath our buggy, my nose almost touching the bottom of the engine. Stiff and still and silent. Listening to the buzz in the Terradrome arena isn’t helping. Dad says racing in the Terradrome is terrific. But he’s not fooling me. Right now, it’s TERRIFYING! 

‘Yo, Kez! Quit messin’ about and get a move on. Our first race is gonna start, and it’s kinda important. Like, a big deal,’ says Remi.

My hand clutches the wrench even tighter. Who wants to face all those eyes?

‘Heel to the steel!’ yells Tao.

Remi laughs. ‘Good one, T. Now step away from the rubber. Your blonde spikes are the enemy of all tyres.’

‘Dude, my hair’s cool.’ Tao pauses as if he’s waiting for Remi to agree. ‘Not like your fuzzy ponytail,’ he continues.

‘It’s hot underneath a helmet,’ snaps Remi. ‘You gotta tie hair back. FACT!’

They’re at it. AGAIN! But no nine-year-old thumble is better than my best friends. I don’t reckon any overgrounder is a match for them, either. Imagining them makes my lips tremble. Even the young ones are giants compared to us. Tao says thumbles are miniature humans. So the islands of Subterrano are the right size for us. And they’re tiny for anyone from the world above the drain.

‘Jeez! You need to see this, Kez.’ Tao’s used-to-be-white-ages-ago trainers jump up and down on the racing track.

‘C-c-can’t.’ I clear my throat to get rid of the shakes. ‘Can’t you just spill the screws?’

‘No chance! Get out here,’ he replies. I breathe deeply and ease out. NO WAY! The spectator stands are HUMONGOUS. And they’re packed to the sky with thumbles. Are they looking at our buggy? Or ME? Or both? I’m not hanging around here, so I dive into our team station to take cover and peek out.