30th of September - Season 1
Moodswing swore. They were behind schedule. The event was set to start at 6 pm and his first two racers were nowhere to be seen. A bead of sweat travelled down his brow as he looked. He looked at his watch again: 5:50. Dammit, he thought, where the hell are they? He looked up and saw Penny Potgieter and Brenda Koek. Well, at least they're here. They were also part of the opening relay race but they weren’t the ones that the crowd had paid to see.
Terrance “Moodswing” Moodley was a man with a simple way of thinking: always give the people what they want. But out of that simplicity came all sorts of complexity. Hell, it seemed everything was complicated when it came to running Formula-X. And as president of the racing club that brought to the world, his baby, Monday Night Fuel, it was his responsibility that everything ran smoothly.
Moodswing was currently awaiting the Jele brothers, who now went by the names Longitude & Latitude. The two had made a name for themselves already here in Formula-X by being the guys who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anything... carefree as ever. Unfortunately, that also meant that they liked to play fast and loose with his timetable. Fortunately, when Moodswing heard a pop from the crowd around the parking lot, he breathed a sigh of relief. From that sound and the following roar of a pair of engines, he knew that they had arrived.
Moodswing waited, arms folded as they made their way towards the start line – towards him. “About time you two arrived. You do know that you guys are first, right?”
“Chill Moody,” said Longitude. “We’re here, aren’t we?”
“Haven’t you heard of being fashionably late?” said Latitude.
Moodswing shook his head in disappointment. “No. I just know there’s early and there’s late. Now get ready!” Moodswing turned to leave them to it. He’d known the Jele brothers for a long time – since high school, in fact. They’d always been a bunch of jokers... but very popular ones. That was directly due to their after-school activities which saw them participating in extreme sports. Oh, their popularity was undeniable. And that was why Moodswing had to have them for his series. He knew that they’d be a hit and he could make loads of money off of them.
Unfortunately, nothing was a guarantee. Not the franchise he was trying to start from scratch; not the pay-per-view which many were doubting would be a hit; not even the race that was about to kick it off. He’d made a gigantic gamble in creating Monday Night Fuel especially since there was nothing like it in the Southern Hemisphere. Formula 1 meets wrestling¸ he thought. Lord, what was I thinking?
Luckily, he was quickly joined by the one man who believed in the idea whole-heartedly. He was also that last person in the world that he believed would ever join him in getting Monday Night Fuel off the ground: Glenwood Jacobs, his Vice President of the F-X Racing Club. “We’re all set, Moodswing.” He handed him a microphone. “You want to do the honours, Mister President.” Even though they barely liked each other, they definitely worked well together. Glen had this air of assurance that always made him believe everything would work out just fine.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to ARRRBBBBOUR GAAAAAAMMMES!!” The crowd roared to life just as it did when he’d introduced Monday Night Fuel just 4 weeks ago. With that, it was time to get to work.
LONGITUDE & LATITUDE VS. PENNY POTGIETER & BRENDA KOEK
Bang! After the gunshot went off indicating that the first race had begun, Moodswing hardly registered the action. There wasn’t time. Where the crowd saw epic relay racing action, Moodswing saw the only time he had to organize the next race. But that still didn’t stop him from taking in the size of the crowd.
They weren’t in the Fuel Speedway, not for this one. Moodswing knew from the get-go that he wanted his pay-per-views to be special. As such, he designed these elaborate street circuits with the help of the Club Committee. It had been a pain to get the go-ahead from the Ngelosi City Municipality but after negotiating with them and finally getting them to understand that the event would be good for tourism, he’d finally got them to agree.
Despite Moodswing’s confidence in Arbour Games being a hit, he didn’t imagine it would be this big... at least not this soon. While Monday Night Fuel had averaged around 1 000 fans a week this past month, there were no less than 4 000 people here. While he was sure half of them were just folks going about their lives wondering what all the fuss was about – since the track was on the roads they used every day – Moodswing didn’t mind. Because that was the point of the street circuits: to hook people who didn’t even know they were into motorsports.
As Moodswing navigated the crowd around the makeshift paddock area, he finally found the 2 people he was looking for: Jim Kieck and John Kloof. At least they're on time. And judging by how far away from each other they’d set up shop in the paddock, they were clearly still in a beef. Moodswing smiled. Perfect. He’d hope that they were still at odds with each other. Their ongoing rivalry was just what he needed for business: the right kind of heat to make this event a hit...
JIM KIECK VS. JOHN KLOOF
Following the relay race, the Playboy and the Family Man made their way to the start line with John Kloof making hard eyeballs at Jim. Moodswing’s smile Broadened. This is gold. He was joined by Glen once again.
Glen saw what he was looking at. “You do know that this isn’t going to end well between the two of them,” he said pointing at Kloof and Jim.
“And I’m supposed to care?” said Moodswing coldly. He then pointed at the crowd. “That, that sound, is what I care about.” Indeed, the crowd had become notably restless at the sight of Jim and Kloof about to take each other on. This was exactly what he wanted.
“Moodswing, these are real people with real lives. Kloof’s got a family for Heaven’s sake.”
“No one’s forcing him to compete.” Moodswing knew that that was only half true as all the F-X racers had signed contracts. “And remember, this is a sports opera. As in sports meets soap opera. The drama of it all is in the description so perhaps Kloof should have known what he was getting himself into.”
“I don’t think he knew he was signing up for this.”
“I told you, him and everyone else exactly what this place was right on day one: a high school playground.”
“Where skill only gets you so far and popularity does the rest,” said Glen, repeating what he’d said 4 weeks ago on the middle-stage. “I really want to know what the hell kinda school you went to,” said Glen, intentionally cutting the tension with humour. They both smiled as the race got on the way and the crowd ate it up.
DARCY STEVENS VS. TOUCH MKHIZE
Moodswing found himself very interested in the next race. While he’d had to move the ‘plot’ along between John Kloof and Jim Kieck to get their race on the racecard, Stevie and Touch had done most of the work for him with their contest – albeit mostly Touch with his big mouth. He was the one that had goaded the Diamond in the Rough into this race by bothering her over social media until she relented to having the race.
A drag race. While the one-on-one match race was Formula-X’s standard affair and the relay race was their most unique race type, the drag race was the series’ ace in the hole as far as Moodswing was concerned. Two racers barreling down a quarter-mile of road to see who comes out on top. There was just nothing purer about that when it came to motorsport. And they were also the first ones to have the audacity to do it in formula-style race-cars.
The crowd came alive at the sound of Touch Mkhize revving his vehicle, The Moyeni. Moodswing smiled. The man was a natural showman: exactly what he needed for the F-X Series to grow. He knew how to give the crowd what they wanted, including this race. But now it was time for Touch to put his money where his big mouth was because Stevie, the driver of The Candyfloss, was no slouch.
“Hmm,” said Moodswing, thinking. “The Loud Mouth.”
“What was that?” said Glen.
“I think I just came up with a nickname for Touch Mkhize.”
“The Loud Mouth?” Glen held back a laugh. “Oh yeah,” he said, sarcastically, “Touch is going to love that.” Despite Glen’s sarcasm, he knew very well that when Moodswing was done with all the racers, all of them would have nicknames. Whether they’d been established in a past life like with “The Playboy”, Jim Kieck; bestowed by the fans like “The Franchise,” Solo Magubane; spun off a joke like “The Diamond in the Rough”, Stevie; boring but meaningful like “The Family Man”, John Kloof; made up by the racers themselves like “The Impaler”, Thorne Oberahauser or made up by Moodswing like “The Good Ol Girl”, Brenda Koek, they were all going to have nicknames.
With the drag race over before any of them could blink, it was time for Moodswing to prepare the feature race; his main event for the night: the match race to determine the first-ever Formula-X King.
SOLO MAGUBANE VS. THAWN OBERHAUSER
Moodswing was particularly proud of this one. It was a rivalry that created itself. Between Thawn’s arrogance; Solo’s already-established reputation in Africa’s Auto 1, it was a race for the ages. It also helped that there’d been so much that Moodswing could put on the poster in marketing this one. There was Magubane vs. Oberhauser: standard but strong; The Franchise vs. The Impaler: absolute gold; and then there was The Abominable Seduction vs. The Devil's Advocate. The last one was Moodswing’s personal favourite because it brought their vehicles to life which was important because he wanted Formula-X to be just as much about the vehicles as it was about the racers.
There was a lot to set up for the race including the podium which wasn’t a podium at all because on top of it, right where the spot for the gold medalist should be was a shiny metal throne painted gold. This was where the winner of the race was going to sit as he was awarded his prize... and what a prize it was. Where the Club Committee had merely painted the metal throne gold, Moodswing had insisted that this be made of real gold... at least gold plated.
It was the ultimate prize; what each racer would covet from this day forth: The Formula-X Crown. While a racing helmet in earnest, Moodswing had made sure it would be the most expensive racing helmet in the world. Not only was it plated in 18 karat gold, but it was also covered in beautiful engraved and embossed designs crafted by a true artist down to the finest detail. In his insistence that it be the helmet equivalent to wrestling’s world heavyweight championship belt, it was flawless right down to the nameplate at the back which would have the King’s regnal name placed on it.
The race itself was a stunning affair. While the crowd – now on their feet – watched anxiously as Solo and Thawn exchanged the lead several times, Moodswing watched them, studied them. He’d made sure the cameras were capturing the crowd as much as the racing action because this was it: this was what he was going to mark as his success and use to garner more. The crowd was loving it, every moment of it... and it was all due to him. He had created this. Lord, I'm going to be rich.
But the night wasn’t over, even as the flag signalling the end of the race was waved. Moodswing lifted the helmet – NO, the Crown – and started for the podium. No, the race wasn’t over until they made the announcement and he had a face for his franchise. “And the Nnnneeeeewww Formula-X King...”