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Fuel Season 1: Episode 31 - Bound for Glory

Series: Stories of the Fuel Speedway

With only two weeks left, Touch Mkhize looks to become the biggest talk of the town.

The Formula-X calendar is unique in motorsports as it spans across 271 days; over 160 races; with 32 weekly race nights; 9 pay-per-view special racing events; 4 active championships and ONE Grand Prix.

18th of May – Season 1

Ever since starting in Formula-X, Touch had garnered a reputation for not doing anything low key. Of course this wasn't the truth, but Touch liked that people thought it was. But the truth was that there were plenty of things that Touch enjoyed doing that he preferred no one know about. Like when he visited his childhood friends in Egypsia.

Touch was currently in Egypsia, speaking to the man who'd sold him his car. "So tell me something,"  said Lungelo Mashaba, "when are you going to make your move?"

"My move?"

"Yeah mfwethu. I mean, last month you were facing the King for the title. You were right there. You almost beat him. So, when are you going to go after him again?"

Touch smiled, just flattered that he was being spoken of so highly. "I'll get another shot when it's my time again," said Touch, humbly.

"When it's your time again? What do you mean, why? Why wait? You should challenge him now mfwethu!"

"It doesn't work like that." Touch explained that the Grand Prix feature race was now set in stone and that there was no way of getting a title shot before the next season.

"So that's it? You got one shot and now it's over? You gonna finish the season uwile?" Lungelo using Zulu to emphasize that he'd fallen only made the suggestion more powerful.

"I haven't fallen off anything, mfwethu. Do you really think that headlining the Grand Prix is the only way to be the biggest news in motorsports? Because if you do, then brother, you've seen nothing yet."

 

LATER AT THE FUEL SPEEDWAY

Touch had meant what he said to Lungelo and he hadn't waited to arrive at the Fuel Speedway to get the ball rolling when he revealed on his social media page that he would be doing a drag demonstration. This was clearly designed to counter Penny Potgieter's drag demonstration from last week. But that wasn't the only thing that Touch had up his sleeve.

Before entering the paddock, Touch eyed Toney Kunene, resident F-X reporter near the designated interview area and smiled. He'd been hoping that it was her doing the paddock interviews tonight as the others had styles not suited to what Touch was looking for. Sherry preferred reporting on scandal; Belinda preferred reporting on Kings and PPV circuits and Wikus preferred reporting on safe topics like feature race press conferences and contract signings. But Toney was versatile. She preferred the stories that spoke to her. So Touch knew that she would want this story.

"Hey, Toney. You busy?"

"I will be if you're willing to give me a story," said Toney, making Touch smile. Toney caught it and also smiled. "You got an exclusive for me?"

"Well, that depends, Toney. Do you want to hear about how I plan on stealing the show at The Formula-X Grand Prix?"

Toney answered by tapping a button on her phone. "I'm listening."

"Well, it's pretty simple," began Touch. "I'm going to win back my Duke of Drag title and I'm going to do it big and I'm going to do it loud. I'm talking about fireworks, confetti, balloons, the works, you name it." When Toney gave her a funny face, Touch went on. "Oh yeah. You see, I believe I'm the only one who understands the gravity of what we'll be walking into on the thirty-first of May. People around here are walking around, talking around like this is going to be just another pay-per-view. But it's not. This event, which was first revealed on my show, was given the nickname of 'the Granddaddy of them All'. But it's also been given the nicknames of 'Main Event of Motorsport'. It's also called 'the Biggest Season Finale in Sports Entertainment."

At this point, Toney interrupted with a confused look on her face. "Whoa, whoa, wait. By whom? Who's calling it by these nicknames?"

Touch smiled again. "I am. And that's my point. I seem to be the only one who understands how big this is going to be. It deserves the pomp and it deserves the circumstance. And at the very least, what these other racers could do, is follow my example. It's time to go big or go home."

Touch then walked away, giving his words that final impact.

 

IN THE PADDOCK

As Touch prepared for his drag demonstration, he was approached by Stevie who'd watched Touch's interview. "The Main Event of Motorsport, huh?"

Touch shrugged, smiling. "I thought it was cool."

"And so do the fans," she said referring to the capacity crowd cheering him after watching his interview on the big screens. "I see that you're determined to make this thing the biggest event in the series."

Touch shook his head. "No. I want it to be the biggest event in the country. I want all eyes on the event so that when I steal the show, all they'll be talking about is me."

Stevie didn't blink. "Jeez, arrogant much?"

Touch took the insult in his stride. "We both know popularity is just as important as skills." Moreso than Stevie could know as every time Touch said or did something that ended up trending on social media throughout the week, Touch would receive a small bump in pay. But the money was a secondary motivation for Touch. The primary one was getting back to the P.P.V. headline spot like Lungelo mentioned. "I heard you and Thawn were forced to face Solo tonight or not go to the Grand Prix. What happened there?"

"No, it was an ultimatum by Glen," Stevie explained that after Solo called both of them out last week for stealing the spotlight, Glen said that either Stevie or Thawn had to face Solo this week and if neither of them stepped up, then both of them would not be going to the Grand Prix. "Thawn didn't even seem to care so I'm stepping up."

"So why do you seem against it? I mean, don't you want to build momentum heading into the Grand Prix."

"No, I want a return race with Thawn. That's what I want. I want to face Thawn at the Grand Prix and I want to show him that he can't just betray me and get away with it."

Touch scoffed. "Well, I never got your alliance with that guy. I mean, he's such an asshole. Anyway, you should know that a race with Solo at the Grand Prix, on the other hand, wouldn't be a bad thing either. A race with all three of you on the other hand..."

"How many hands do you have?" asked Stevie, playfully undercutting Touch.

"You should know that everyone is buzzing about it. They want to see it. They want to see all three of you facing off in a three-way."

"Really? Because as far as I'm concerned, I've been feuding with Solo, all season. I don't think people want to see us get it on again."

Touch shook his head, indicating that Stevie had given him the wrong answer. "And that is why you won't steal the show at the Grand Prix. You're not willing to do what it takes to be the box office attraction." Once again, Touch turned and left, giving his last words that sense of impact, leaving a jaw-dropped Stevie. Little did Stevie know that Touch had been recording the entire conversation. If Stevie was unwilling to do her part in driving this three-way rivalry forward, then Touch would. After all, he wasn't one to just report on the news, he wanted to make the news.

 

LATER THAT NIGHT

Touch remembered the first time he saw a drag race demonstration back on the second ever episode of Monday Night Fuel. It had been Stevie herself that had done it and Touch had been impressed. By the time Touch stepped onto the asphalt, the recording he'd posted on social media was already making the rounds, trending. And now that he had everyone's attention, he turned his focus to besting Penny's demo from last week.

Touch didn't let the fact that he didn't have an opponent stop him from putting on a hell of a performance. He aimed to show that he was on top of his game. He cycled through his gears with precision, controlling his revs and pushing The Moyeni as far as it could go. While there was no one for him to beat, Touch made a point to have his time recorded. He then had it displayed on every screen in the Fuel Speedway against Penny's time last week which Touch also had recorded secretly. Touch's time was better by 2 seconds.

Touch smiled, pandering to the crowd, as his plan worked. The crowd was buzzing from his performance. He'd done it: he'd outperformed Penny and her demonstration. His was getting a far louder reaction. With no Winner's Circle interview for him tonight, Touch used those precious two minutes to celebrate with the crowd. By the time he went back to the paddock, he'd left the crowd in a frenzy.

Touch smiled as Stevie walked past him, starting for the racetrack. "You should take lessons, Stevie. Because that's how you give the people what they want." While Stevie simply scoffed and went about her business, followed by Solo who simply nodded at Touch, seemingly impressed, there was one person not impressed with Touch's showboating. "Well if it isn't the Duchess of Drag. What can I do for you, Penny?"

"You can stop being so sneaky. Showing my time from my demo last week, not cool. Look, I know that you wanna drum up interest for the P.P.V."

"For the pee-pee-vee?" said Touch, disgusted by what Penny had called it. "Penny, this isn't just another pay-per-view. This is the biggest event in the series. And I'm trying to treat it as such. This isn't just about drumming up interest. This is about our race being the best race of not just this P.P.V., but the best race of the season. This is our last chance. You versus me. A drag race for the Duchess of Drag title, soon to once again be called the Duke of Drag title. Come the Grand Prix, you only have one job: show up and be at your best. And then, you and I will put on the show of a lifetime. But until then, enjoy your title reign, Duchess."

As Touch walked away, he checked his phone to see if it had been recording and smiled. Perfect, thought Touch. This is just what I need for tonight's show. Once again, Touch wanted to forgo having a guest to instead spend time building up The Formula-X Grand Prix.

 

TALKING WITH TOUCH

As Touch sat on the stage alone, he took a moment to contemplate what he was about to say, allowing his studio audience to revel in the suspense. "Ladies and gentlemen, in just under two weeks, we're going to be living in motorsports history. The Formula-X Grand Prix. This is not just a pay-per-view. It is not just a racing event. What's about to happen is the first iteration of what I truly believe will become known as a racing spectacle. I'm talking about a national phenomenon. In just one season, the Formula-X series has been credited as revitalizing motorsports in South Africa and The Formula-X Grand Prix is the crown jewel of that series."

Touch went on to speak about what the event meant for the racers, including himself saying that ultimate glory awaited them at the Grand Prix. He made use of the recordings from earlier in the night, interplaying them with his monologue, presenting them in such a way that by now, The Formula-X Grand Prix felt like the spectacle it would be in the minds of his audience. Now it was time to speak about his part in it.

“I wanted to take this moment to thank you all for making not only this talk show what it is but for supporting me out there on the blacktop. The fact and the matter is, I believe that I’m going to win come the F-X Grand Prix and I want to tell you right now that I will be proud to be your Duke of Drag once again.” At that point, his audience applauded, cheering loudly for him which allowed Touch to end the show with a perfect moment. If he wasn't the talk of the town now, then didn't know what was.

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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