Part 1, Chapter 4 Summary
Thompson and his attorney settle into their hotel suite. It is getting dark. Thompson, still in the hallucinogenic grip of acid, is disturbed by a neon sign visible from his window. He cautiously tells his roommate that there is “some kind of electric snake...coming straight at us.” He declines to kill it, however. Instead, he says he will “study it.”
The attorney wants him to calm down. He tells Thompson how out-of-control he had been at the registration table, yelling about sea creatures and blood. The police were almost called, the attorney says.
Thompson wants to leave and get down to the race track before dark. Unfortunately, they have lost the valet ticket for the car. Thompson calls downstairs and convinces the attendant to bring the car around without it.
The social and political turbulence of the 1970s creeps into the book's narrative at this point. On their hotel room's television is a story about the invasion of Laos. The footage is gruesome: some people have been killed; others are fleeing. Buildings have been reduced to rubble, and explosions are frequent as the reporter covers the story. The attorney is disturbed by the report, so they decide to leave the room immediately. In the car, the radio is playing a war song, “The Battle Hymn of Lieutenant Calley."
They arrive at the Mint Gun Club, the site where the Mint 400 race will begin. Gun shots ring out on a regular basis: the race has not deterred the gun club enthusiasts from practicing. Thompson gets out of the car and notices that his attorney has passed out. Thompson decides to just leave him there.
Thompson checks in and has a look around. He tries to convince the registrar that he too has a vehicle to enter into the competition: a “Vincent Black Shadow,” a motorcycle that he and the attorney like. They do not actually have one. Besides, the entry fee is $250, something else they do not have. These facts do not prevent Thompson from arguing about a place in the race.
As he is haggling with the registrar, he notices the man’s face go white. Thompson turns to see his attorney lumbering toward them. The attorney has discarded his shirt and sunglasses. He is breathing laboriously and soon becomes enraged. Thompson asks him to calm down because everyone around them is armed. After a few more angry words, the attorney agrees that they should both leave because, "Crazy people are shooting!"