Dan's Big Race is the twentieth episode of the third season.
The episode opens with Becky reading aloud from a poster for the upcoming Charity Bicycle Race. The race circuit runs from Shining Time Station to Cloggyville, then to Lucy's Leap and back to Shining Time Station. Kara remarks that it's a pretty long route for a bicycle race, and asks Stacy if she's sure about wanting to sponsor them, while Becky is not so confident about winning. Stacy counsels them to just have fun and do their best, and that the most important reason for the race is that it's for charity. Kara agrees, adding that the whole idea behind the race is to raise money for the new playground, although Becky feels that it would still be fun to win.
Barton Winslow arrives dressed in his leather jacket speaking hip talk and looking for Dan, his "winnin' cyclin’ man." Becky asks Barton if he speaks English, and Stacy translates that Barton has sponsored Dan in the bicycle race just as she has sponsored the girls. Barton sees Dan riding his bicycle into the station and goes over to greet him. Schemer interrupts everyone to announce the arrival of the "Human Flash" as his nephew Schemee wheels in his bicycle, while wearing an gaudy outfit, helmet and glasses. He boasts that they should all take a good look at him now because it’ll be the most they’ll ever see of him once the race starts. Stacy compliments his outfit and asks if he’s planning to enter the bicycle race. Schemer brags that his nephew IS the race and the fastest thing since sliced bread. This prompts Barton to proclaim that he’d place his bets on Dan beating Schemee any time and bets 10 "big ones" that Dan will win the bicycle race. Schemer raises the bet to 15 big ones in favour of Schemee. Barton then ups the ante to 20 big ones and the two men shake hands to seal the bet, with Schemer vowing that Schemee will be the one winning the race and the 20 big ones is $1 in nickels.
Dan tries to interject, but Schemer and Schemee leave to plan their victory celebration. Stacy counters Schemer's bravado by telling him that he has a trick or two to learn this time, and bets that Schemee will come in dead last. Barton begins to pump Dan up by saying that Schemee will be eating Dan's dust for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dan tries to protest but Barton cuts him off to add that Schemer for once will be squealing for mercy. Dan then joins the girls when Barton leaves the station. Dan feels that there’s no way he can beat Schemee just as Mr. Conductor appears on the arcade railing riding a bicycle. The kids ask if he’ll also be in the race, with Kara commenting that all the bikes in the world could not beat Schemee. Mr. Conductor questions why he would want to beat Schemee when the idea for the bicycle race was to have fun for charity. Dan replies that he was thinking the same thing until Barton placed a bet that he’ll win the race. Mr. Conductor feels that it sounds like Dan is already out of the race before it even begins, and asks what would happen if Henry the Green Engine had done that. He tells the story of how Henry wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t even pull a freight train until things improved when he was given special coal to burn. At the end of the story Mr. Conductor maintains that Henry never gave up and got better with the help of his friends, and so will Dan. He bids them farewell and promises to see them at the races.
Meanwhile, there is a betting frenzy going on inside the jukebox as Didi takes bets for the race with the current odds of 2:1 in Dan's favour. Tito wants to place his bets on Becky and needs another nickel just as a passenger inserts one into the jukebox. As the band members prepare to play the selection, Tex whispers to his brother that his bet is on Kara winning the bicycle race. Grace then leads the band a medley of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".
Stacy reminds the kids that they need to sign up before they can enter the race. She tells them that she wants to get a good seat at the finish line to see the winners and, as Schemer and his nephew arrive, the losers. Schemer tries to turn Stacy's barb around and informs them that he's keeping an eye out to make sure that none of her henchmen try to flatten Schemee's tires before the race begins. Schemer tells him to go with the kids to sign up, but Schemee replies that he's already done so and would rather stay behind to prepare for the race. As soon as Schemee is alone in the station, he pulls out a wrench and removes a nut from Dan's front bicycle wheel and puts it in his pocket. He's about to tamper with the other bicycles when he's interrupted by the kids returning, so he exits so he does not get caught. They mount their bicycles to ride out of the station when Kara shouts a warning to Dan as his front wheel detaches, but it's too late and he falls down. Stacy rushes to his aid as Schemer holds the now-bent front tire. Dan says that he only suffered a scrape and is more concerned about his broken bike. Schemee puts on an air of false sympathy as he informs Dan that this means that he won’t be in the race. Dan is very disappointed because this also means that Barton has lost his bet, much to Schemer's delight.
As everyone leaves for the race, Dan limps over to the arcade steps and sits down. Dan is surprised when Mr. Conductor appears, thinking that he would be racing too by now. Mr. Conductor tells him that he hurt his leg just like Dan did by falling off his bike, and suggests that they form a "sore leg" club with the rule that they can't feel sorry for themselves for missing the race. He adds that Henry the Green Engine would make a good member because he hurt more than his leg, and tells Dan the story of Henry's experience with "The Flying Kipper". As the story concludes Mr. Conductor has an idea that the next time there’s a race, they should hurt their legs again. When Dan asks why they would want to do that, Mr. Conductor replies because they were having such a good time feeling sorry for themselves. Dan mentions that he's looking forward to the next race which prompts Mr. Conductor to inform him that he's no longer a member of the sore leg club. He tells Dan that he needs to start over and directs the lad’s attention to the Anything Tunnel where a music video is shown of a young girl not giving up as she learns how to ice skate. Afterward, Mr. Conductor advises Dan that he also needs to pick himself up, brush himself off and start the race over again. They realize that they're missing the race and both rush over to the station window behind the ticket counter. Dan complains that he can’t see anything, so Mr. Conductor asks him to hold his hand up as high as he can as he materializes on it. From his high vantage point Mr. Conductor calls out a play-by-play account of the race as he watches it with a pair of binoculars. The race to the finish line is close between Becky, Kara and Schemee, with Kara just behind when Schemee wins by a curl. Dan is dejected to learn who won the race, while inside the jukebox the band members watch the event on their television set. Seeing that Schemee won makes them conclude that they've all lost their bet money except for Didi, as she was the only one who bet on Schemee.
Barton arrives having heard the news of Dan's accident and asks him if he's all right. Dan apologizes for not being in the race and for losing Barton’s bet money. Barton tells him in confidence that he's been in hundreds of motorcycle races and has won only one of them, his first race which was a long time ago. He adds that he kept on returning because you should never give up; every time you try, you'll be a winner. He lifts Dan's spirits by telling him that he has a feeling that he'll be seeing him in the next bicycle race.
Stacy and the girls arrive and she tells them how proud she is of their participation in the race, with Becky agreeing that it was a lot of fun. Schemer heralds the arrival of his victorious nephew, who enters the station wearing a floral horseshoe around his neck. Schemer smugly tells Barton to pay up his $1 in nickels, and as soon as the bet is handed over, begins to celebrate by shouting gleefully and picking his nephew up in his arms. As he bounces his nephew, the wrench and nut fall out of Schemee’s pocket onto the floor. Stacy immediately suspects that the wrench and nut will fit Dan's bike. Schemee tries to deny responsibility by saying that his uncle told him to do anything to win, but Schemer rebukes his nephew, while Barton tells Schemee that he's disqualified from the race and asks for the return of his nickels. Schemee protests that it isn't fair, but Stacy reproaches him by asking how fair it was of him to break Dan’s bike which could have caused him serious injury, and for which he owes Dan an apology. Schemee coyly insists that he still won the race which earns a further admonishment from his uncle for losing his money and more importantly, losing the pride of the Schemer name. Schemee starts apologizing profusely as Schemer drags him home to take away his bike and comb out his nephew's curl as punishment.
Becky realizes that Schemee’s disqualification means that Kara won the race by default. Barton then hands the 20 nickels over to her for the new playground. Kara insists that the money was intended for Dan, not her, but Barton explains that the race was about the playground, and not about who won or lost. Stacy adds that sometimes we are so caught up on winning that we forget to do our best, and they all begin to cheer for Kara.
A few days later, Mr. Conductor appears later atop Dan's now-repaired bicycle to ask why he's polishing it, pointing out that the race was days earlier. Dan explains that he's simply getting ready for the next race. He's sorry that their sore leg club didn't work out, but has an idea for a new one: "The Good Friends Club." Mr. Conductor agrees that it's a good name for a club and the episode ends as they high-five one another as a token of their new club’s membership.
- Mr. Conductor
- Stacy Jones
- Dan Jones
- Kara Cupper
- Barton Winslow
- Thomas (mentioned)
- Henry (mentioned)
- James (mentioned)
- Annie and Clarabel (mentioned)
Jukebox Band Song Segment
- Michael, Row the Boat Ashore
Cartoon and Songs
- Start All Over Again
- A person, who is probably one of the crew members working on this show, puts a nickel in the jukebox.
- In the Nick Jr. version, the Jukebox Band segments are edited out, along with Mr. Conductor and Dan's high five.