|Location:||Permian Basin, Texas|
|Factions:||Midessa Compact Rocker Movement, Salt Clan|
|Current status:||Small town holding genuine motor races.|
Penwell is a small southwest of Globe Town. Though just over a day's walk from Globe Town, it is the first community to join the Midessa Compact since its founding. It is a town that sticks out to the senses: blaring with the roar of engines, the squeal of tires, and raucous cheering, its air laden with exhaust fumes. It is home to the Races and the two opposing groups of mechanics and drivers who make them possible.
The town was named for J. H. Penn, a veteran West Texas oil operator, who drilled the discovery well of the Penwell-Jordan oilfield. When Penn's well, the R. R. Penn Kloh-Rumsey No. 1, came in on October 7, 1929, the area began to develop rapidly. The townsite was officially laid out on November 8, 1929, and a post office was established there in 1930. The first residents lived in tents or hastily constructed shacks, but eventually better housing was built. Because many of the early settlers were only temporary residents, accurate population statistics are difficult to ascertain. For example, Penwell's 1930–31 population was given as 230 in one source, but as 3,000 in another. According to one source, during the early 1930s Penwell had six lumberyards, several rooming houses, several filling stations, two or three clothing stores, two hotels, a doctor's office, a drugstore, a barbershop, a pool hall, a dance hall, and a paper, the Penwell News. For a while, there was also a school, but later local students were transferred to the Odessa schools. After the 1930s Penwell's population decreased because of a decline in local oil drilling and the movement of workers to larger cities. In 1980 its population was estimated at seventy-five, and the town included a post office, a service station, a welding shop, and a beer store. Some ranches were in the vicinity. In the 1980s the nearby Odessa Raceway Park was operating from May through October. Monahans State Park is just outside of town. In 1990 and again in 2000 the population of Penwell was reported as seventy-four.
Throughout the 21st century, Penwell remained one bad day away from a ghost town. Its only draw was the small racetrack, that saw fewer and fewer races as the price of oil skyrocketed. The availability of fusion-powered cars revived it in the years prior to the war: greasers and dragsters came from around Ector and Midland counties to show off their rides.
Penwell was a flyspeck town, unnoticed and frankly unworthy of bombing. The shock waves that pounded Odessa and Midland rattled a few windows and such in Penwell but did little damage. A few Penwell residents had been in Odessa at the time of the bombing and perished there, but the rest survived without even taking shelter. Penwell almost emptied immediately afterward though as residents elected to drive away to escape the radiation and seek safety elsewhere, ignorant of the global nature of the conflict. A few stayed behind, taking shelter to escape the fallout.
While most of Penwell's people hid away in shelters one man remained outside, intent on having a ball. Hector Moreno, known to his friends as Dizzy, was a mechanic and survivalist who had stockpiled radiation medicine and various automotive parts with a single goal in mind: survive the inevitable apocalypse to drive as fast and as recklessly as he pleased in a world without rules. He took to repairing cars that caught his eye and tearing up the streets in a different hot rod each day. Eventually, his stockpile of radiation drugs waned and he began to put his favorite cars in a garage where they would be safe from the elements, fixing them up so they would be in working order for future generations. He left a rambling note regarding the splendor of driving and his gratitude that "the pigs," had all died before getting into a car and driving off to die at high speed.
Years later when people began to emerge from their shelters, Dizzy's cache of working automobiles was discovered. Attempts were made to drive to other locales to find survivors but the roads were in such poor condition and there were so many obstructions, it proved nearly impossible. The cars were put back in storage in case they were ever needed, but left unguarded. A number of youngsters living in Penwell took to reading through Dizzy's notes and journals and were fascinated by his travelogues and raves about the pleasures of driving. They taught themselves to drive and started racing in the old drag strip.
Though they had given up on making use of the cars themselves, the town fathers (the very loose council of family heads that governed at the time) were protective of the cars and tried to get the drivers to stop. There was a protest and heated words on either side, but they eventually came to a compromise. It was agreed that rather than allowing free use of the cars at any time, races were to be scheduled events. Furthermore, great emphasis was to be put on the care of the cars so that they would be present for future generations. The scheduled races became a big hit in town, and the entire community would come to watch from the sidelines. Because there weren't enough cars for every interested driver, people raced in turns. Eventually, a small group of drivers came to be associated with each car and the families of those drivers took an interest in helping care for the car. From this origin would evolve the car stables.
The races are all important in Penwell. The drivers and pit crews of each car are usually well regarded, but their fame pales in comparison to the cars themselves. Each is an antique, worship-fully cared for by a dynasty of mechanics and with a recorded history that's possibly more in depth than most histories of the post-war world. Each car has its own following, but the followings are banded together into two main groups: the Greasers and Speed Disciples. Greasers have a more grounded approach to the care and use of the cars, understanding that without them they'd all have to get "real jobs," and are always looking for ways to expand the fleet of cars and find other uses for them besides racing. The Speed Disciples, on the other hand, attribute the cars with supernatural qualities and revere Dizzy as a saint. The notion of a car being used for anything other than racing is an affront to the Speed Disciples and they're very discriminating about the notion of letting new cars gracing the streets and garages of Penwell.
Penwell has no real means of supporting its populace besides the races. They sell admission to the races and rent out space for outside vendors to hawk their wares. The vendors mostly sell food and water at slightly inflated prices.
The Greasers and Speed Disciples care for their own, keep the peace at races, and protect the cars and their crews but otherwise have no real law. People are expected to behave themselves or deal with the consequences of their actions.
Most of Penwell is north of I-20, about 17 miles from Globe Town. The famous racetrack is actually a short distance away from the heart of the town, a mile south of I-20. The racing dragway is a quarter of a mile long and has bleachers along either side the whole way.
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