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Fuel Season 1: Episode 29 - Highway to the Grand Prix

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

With only 4 weeks left to impress, the F-X racers look to pull out all the stops heading to the GP.

Box Office Draw: A person or idea that is capable of attracting an audience to buy tickets to an event solely based their star power.

4th of May – Season One

SOLO AND STYLES

"We're in the endgame now, brother," said Styles Sithole as he and Solo Magubane got out of Styles car, having just arrived at the Fuel Speedway. 

Solo didn't even bother rolling his eyes. "Why are you quoting superhero movies to me, Jose?" Solo had gotten used to Styles so much that they'd even gotten to calling each other either by their clan names or simply "brother". While Styles still annoyed Solo at times, the two-person carpool they'd developed had created an unexpected bond which was interesting because they still considered each competition the moment they stepped inside the Old Airport. 

"I'm just trying to inspire. Everyone else is pushing the envelope, so I thought I'd get you in on it." Styles took out his phone and showed it to him. "Check it out. Touch was even using social media to hype his race with Mandla last night." 

Solo looked at the photo on Touch's social media page which had him with a crown photo-shopped onto his head with the caption: 'the prophecy has been made: new King Sunday.' Solo squinted at the date and saw that it was today's date.  "Uhm, I think he posted this a little late."

Styles rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. So there was a glitch with the website. The point is though, everyone is going all out. What are you going to do tonight to prove that you belong at the Grand Prix?" 

This was an excellent question. What was Solo going to do to prove that he should be on that racecard, unlike last night when he'd been left off the Sunday Night Easter racecard?

 


BRENDA AND JIM

Brenda Koek was not a happy camper at the moment. Not only did she not win the Duchess of Drag title last night at the P.P.V. but she also found out that she would be teaming with Jim Kieck to take on Longitude and Latitude, all three of whom were not her favorite people. Perhaps she should just be thankful that it was for the Relay Baron titles meaning she was getting another shot at being a monarch in the space of 24 hours. 

"Okay," said Brenda just before they put on their helmets,  "let's just keep this simple. No fancy business. I'll take the odds, you take the evens." 

"Actually, I think I should start the race." When this earned a disapproving look from Brenda, Jim smoothly countered. "That way you can be the one to end the race. You know, take lap twenty, win the race." Jim gave her his usual charming smile which seemed to get her to agree, although grumpily so.

The race was fast-paced action with Jim doing his best to adhere to Brenda's instruction: no fancy business. Jim wasn't well versed with relay races, so he relied on Brenda's experience to lead them. Brenda's strategy seemed to be to try and keep the brothers off-balance and forcing them to focus on defending rather than interchanging well. It was this strategy that allowed them to steal the lead at two separate times in the race: early on in Lap 7 and later on in Lap 17.

Unfortunately, it was Brenda who lost the lead both times and they had been unsuccessful at stealing it back which forced Brenda to be the one to lose in the last lap. After the race, Jim saw that Brenda was upset and approached her, still on the racetrack.  "Hey Brenda, I hope you know it wasn't your fault."

Brenda didn't answer immediately, still taking it in. Brenda didn't like how nice Jim was being. He'd also been nice to her after Longs and Lats had defaced her pit stall. She didn't like this. She didn't like how a man who was known for being a player was being nice to her. What was he up to? But then she second-guessed herself, wondering if she was the one in the wrong for not giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Unfortunately, that all went out the window when Jim suddenly wrapped his hands around her, and on instinct, she shoved him away. Brenda knew she'd probably overreacted, but the capacity crowd had seen it and loudly chanted "Oh" forcing Brenda to commit to her action and she simply turned and left the racetrack, leaving a very rejected Jim.

 


KING MANDLA AND THAWN

When King Mandla arrived in the paddock, for the second time in two months, Thawn Oberhauser was waiting for him. King Mandla rolled his eyes, getting out of his father's car. "What do you want, Oberhauser?"

"I want to know if you're the reason that Glen and Moodswing haven't made a decision on who will be facing you at the Grand Prix?"

King Mandla made a face. He'd heard a rumor late last night during the Easter Egg Hunt that Thawn had been complaining to Moodswing and Glen that he should the one facing him for the title at the Grand Prix. And judging from what King Mandla was hearing now, the rumors were true. But he couldn't understand why Moodswing would ever consider this especially due to one tiny reason.

"I don't know who my opponent is at the Grand Prix but I know one thing. It sure as hell isn't you." When Thawn gave him a clenched jaw, King Mandla went on. "Thawn, you lost the One Kay-Em Derby, remember? You can't challenge me for the title, my title as long as I'm King."

"Don't be stupid, Mandla. Think of the box office. I'm a big time draw and you know it. Not having me in the feature race–"

"I don't care how much you draw in the box office. You are NOT getting a title shot, ticket sales be damned." King Mandla then started away but stopped so he could say one last thing. "And it's King Mandla to you, Impaler."

King Mandla then went about his business, firstly getting word on his race for the night. He was glad when he was told that he'd be in the feature race, albeit in a relay race. This amused King Mandla because they'd already had two relay races tonight: the first one for the Relay Baron titles and the second one which had just ended with Styles Sithole and JVZ winning against a pair of freelancers. But King Mandla didn't mind, even when he was told that Dime would be his partner and opposite them would be his Sunday Night Easter opponent, Touch Mkhize and reigning Duchess of Drag, Penny Potgieter.

 


THE WINNER'S CIRCLE

Geeza Gabashe really enjoyed his job interviewing victors in the Winner's Circle. A part of him thought he was a sadist because he most enjoyed it when the victors called someone out or used the time to antagonize other racers. But he wasn't upset about this part of him because when it came to being a good F-X reporter, the more drama the better. So when Thawn won his race and made a beeline for the Winner's Circle, Geeza had a smile on his face. 

Last week, Thawn had shocked the world when he turned on Stevie by challenging her to a race at Sunday Night Easter. And that had happened in the Winner's Circle. Geeza could not wait for what Thawn would  say this week. Geeza asked Thawn his thoughts about his back-to-back victories. 

“I proved it at Sunday Night Easter so it should be no surprise that I managed to defeat Solo here tonight. Now I have made some mistakes, although I’d call them gambles: not entering the scramble race, staking all future claims on one race. But that’s all in the past now." Geeza then asked Thawn how things were between him and Solo. “I beat him and that’s it. Perhaps that’s why he was playing reserve last night." 

Geeza didn't need to be a genius to know that wasn't going to end here. Thawn had done it again. He'd provided drama that would play out in the coming weeks. And it had all happened in the Winner's Circle. 

 


TOUCH AND PENNY

Touch Mkhize was still buzzing from the excitement of last night. Some part of him still couldn't believe it. He had headlined a pay-per-view. Just a year ago, Touch had been working odd jobs to keep food on the table. And now he'd just cashed a huge paycheck simply from being in a P.P.V. feature race. And now he had the bug.

Up until now, Touch had not grasped the significance of the difference in being in a support race at a P.P.V. and being in the main event... Now he did. Hell, even headlining Monday Night Fuel, as he was tonight – a bump in pay in its own right – paled in comparison to the paycheck of it's pay-per-view counterpart. No wonder Thawn's obsessed with headlining every pay-per-view. 

"Are you ready for this?" asked Penny moments before they went onto the racetrack. Touch simply nodded. "Good then let's go kick some ass." 

Following his loss last night, Touch wanted more than anything to prove that he belonged in feature races, so despite working with the person that took his drag racing title from him at Year End Bash, he was going to make the most of it. Unfortunately, putting the thought of that moment in his head seemed to affect Touch's game. While their exchanges were picture perfect, Touch just couldn't seem to nail his overtaking attempts, although one wouldn't know it from listening to the crowd. They were electric every time Touch was on the racetrack. 

By the time the race ended, the fans were cheering for them, although it seemed to be obvious that they were cheering more for Touch than Penny. Even Penny seemed to understand that, showing so when – in an effort to cheer Touch up from watching King Mandla and Dime enter the Winner's Circle – she raised his hand earning a pop from the crowd. But, as Penny raised her own hand with her title in the other hand, Touch found himself staring at it which the crowd noticed, earning a big "Oh" from then. 

Once Penny noticed, she didn't need to be told where this was heading. Instead of pulling away, she simply clenched her jaw and slowly turned to face him, as if welcoming what was clearly becoming a challenge. Touch almost smiled realizing that he wasn't the only one with a sense of showmanship. She hadn't wasted a single motion: accepting what fate was doing and rolling with it. Instead of complaining that he was turning on her after they'd teamed together, she was helping build up the potential race, participating in her side of the stare down. Now she knew who her next challenger would be. 

 


TALKING WITH TOUCH

John Kloof had been ecstatic at hearing the news. But he was still unsure about the decision made by Glen and Moodswing. They'd kept it under wraps so the news could be broken on Talking with Touch with John Kloof finally getting a guest spot on Touch's talk show. While Kloof was sure his wife would be happy, Kloof himself was nervous. So nervous in fact that Moodswing had said he would be joining him on the show. The two of them were currently backstage awaiting Touch to introduce them

"Moodswing, are you sure about this?" 

Moodswing knew what he was talking about. "Yes, I'm sure. Face it, John, you've earned it. Whether you believe it or not." Moodswing's sheer confidence was so contagious that by the time Touch called them onto the stage, Kloof held his head held high. 

After welcoming them onto the show, Touch kicked off the interview by explaining why they were there." You know why we're all here: breaking news. We now know who will be going to the feature race of The Formula-X Grand Prix to face Formula-X King, Mandla Xulu for the Formula-X Crown. That man is none other John Kloof." Touch then began the interview asking the most important question that every fan wanted to know. "So tell us, Moodswing, what was behind naming John Kloof the Number One Claimant for Formula-X Grand Prix?"

Moodswing smiled, still confident. “John Kloof proved to be the best choice for both the value of entertainment and sportsmanship. Not only was his rise through the ranks breathtaking to watch, but his dominance on the circuit also proved that he had the skills to put on a good show.” Moodswing continued. "And its important that as the Number One Claimant that John has both elements of an entertainer and sportsman because being the feature of such a big event means he needs to be what everyone wants to see, which happens to be the case with John Kloof."

Touch then looked at Kloof through narrow eyes as if suspicious as to why he was being so quiet. As if on cue, Touch directed his next question to Kloof. "And you, John? What do you have to say about being named the Number One Claimant? How do you feel about headlining the biggest event on the Formula-X calendar?"

Moodswing's confidence seemed to feed through Kloof as he didn't feel nervous at all. “I feel honored to have been chosen and I truly believe that I can beat King Mandla.”

Those had not just been words for Kloof. He truly believed them. It wasn't just confidence oozing through Kloof's veins, it also his own belief. This was what he wanted. It's what he wanted since the moment he realized that he could do it. While he hadn't expected it to happen at the biggest event of the F-X calendar,  this was exactly what Kloof had wanted for months: to get a shot at the Crown. And now he had it. 

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © All stories are Copyright © 2016-2020 by S.T. Kubheka (also known by the pseudonym Bernard "Beesting" Bayede). ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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