27th of October – Season 1
Glen laughed. He was currently looking at a sheet of paper that was riddled with columns of numbers, but he was currently looking at the one right at the bottom. It was the sum total of money they had made on pay-per-view buys on the Formula-X streaming service. It was higher than the ones for the previous pay-per-view: Arbour Games. Glen found this very impressive considering that most of the races on the racecard for tonight were return races from Arbour Games.
Glen was suddenly shaken out of his good mood when the Formula-X Racing Club Committee Events Organizer came up him. “Glen, we have a bit of a problem?”
Glen looked at the 21-year-old young woman in front of him. “What’s with the face, Ellie?” Glen and Ellie began to walk through the makeshift pit stall area alongside the specially crafted street circuit, the crowd restless behind the tyre-barrier. “P.P.V. buys are up; the crowd is loving it and I’m a happy man.”
“Well you might not be happy what you hear about this, boss.”
“I’m not your boss, Ellie. That’s Moodswing.” It was true but Glen knew how and why she could make a mistake like that. While Moodswing did make all the final decisions, it had become common knowledge in the past two months that Glen was the guy that ran point on Monday nights. He was the glue that kept the show together.
“Sorry. Slip of the tongue. Even after two months, this whole racing series thing is weird.”
“Get to the problem part, Ellie.” Ellie’s response was to point to the makeshift paddock area where the F-X racers on the racecard were set up with their race cars. “Oh, what now?”
In front of Glen and Ellie were two racers arguing. The two racers were Touch Mkhize – or as Moodswing had nicknamed him: ‘The Loudmouth’ – and the man known as ‘The Franchise’, Solo Magubane. And they were currently in a standoff.
“All I’m saying man is that if you’d chosen me as your champion on Monday, then you would have won. I would have won. I’ve beaten that Playboy before.”
Someone scoffed. “You just got lucky,” said Jim Kieck, chiming in.
“Well luckier than Stevie, apparently,” quipped Touch.
“Watch it, Mkhize,” said Stevie. “Don’t bring it here.”
“Oh, I’m going to bring it there,” said Touch pointing to where she was standing. “We have a race tonight, if you don’t remember.”
“Well I sure as hell do,” said Glen, bringing that authority in his voice that made the racers pay attention. “In fact,” he said, closing in on the two, “if I recall, your race is next. Now what the hell are you two fighting about?” When they began to explain, Glen shut them up. “Actually, I don’t care! Look guys, I know that Moodswing wants to keep the drama at an all time high around here but we’re not doing this at the expense of this pay-per-view.” When they all went quiet, Glen knew he had them in line. “Now Stevie, Touch, you guys are up next so get ready.” The two took off. “Jim, your race is after that, so stop worrying about Touch get ready too.”
Jim made a face but also started away. “Just so you know, Glen, he’s the one who started. I was just letting him know that I’m willing to finish it.”
“And if you win tonight, then maybe I’ll give you another crack at him tomorrow on Fuel. But for now, focus on John Kloof.” When Jim nodded and went back to his race car, Glen turned to the others who were still looking at him. “Anyone else want to try and ruin this event?” Silence. “I didn’t think so.” Glen hated being the authority figure but understood that it was sometimes needed in order to make things going smoothly.
DARCY STEVENS VS. TOUCH MKHIZE
As Glen watched Stevie and Touch take their spots on the starting line, he listened to the announcer introduce them by their nicknames: ‘The Diamond in the Rough’ and ‘The Loudmouth’. When their cars screeched off the start line, the crowd came alive. Glen was quickly joined by one of his least favorite people in the world yet, strangely enough, best business partner he could have asked for.
Moodswing clapped him on the back, excitedly. “Glen, do you hear that? This crowd is loving this.”
Glen nodded before going into business mode. “It’s surprising though, right. Considering how much like Arbour Games this event is.”
“You’re forgetting about the Trick or Treat Party afterwards.”
“What, you think that the increase in buys is because of that?” While they’d agreed to have a trick or treat after the event with the racers being the ones giving out the candy, Glen was doubtful that that was enough to warrant more people watching.
Moodswing shook his head. “C’mon Glen, don’t you see the big picture?” Moodswing went on following the silence from Glen. “This is not repetition. It’s continuation. It’s chapter two.” When Touch and Stevie whizzed past on their second lap, Moodswing pointed at them. “For example: take Stevie and Touch. Last time they faced off, it was a drag race and Stevie won. But this time, it’s a circuit race. Feels like repetition but it’s not. The last race was important because it introduced the drag race. This race is important because circuit races are the standard around here. Whoever wins will know that they’re better than the other in the most common race in the series.” A moment passed before Glen laughed. “What’s so funny?”
“Well here I thought you were all about drama and tension and,” he made air-quotations, “sports opera.”
“Oh, don’t worry,” said Moodswing, patting Glen on the back again. “The sports opera stuff comes later.”
JIM KIECK VS. JOHN KLOOF
As Glen watched Stevie and Touch switch places on the racetrack with Jim Kieck and John Kloof, Glen couldn’t help but smile. From the sound of the crowd cheering for Kloof, he realized that Moodswing had been right on the money when he said that the drama was still coming. The rivalry between Jim and Kloof was basically the definition of sports opera. It combined their skill in racing with the soapie-level drama of their personal lives making for spectacular sports entertainment.
After Touch had shocked the crowd by defeating the fan-favorite, Stevie, there was now a different feeling in the air. The atmosphere felt like anything could happen. That only built the tension between ‘The Playboy’ and the family man. With everyone rooting for Kloof, there was that fear that ‘the man who went after a married woman’ was going to pick up the victory.
Sometimes Glen wondered about his business partner’s sense of morality. Honestly, what the hell did some fabricated story of Jim sneaking around with Kloof’s wife behind Kloof’s back have to do with open-wheel racing? Because that’s what it was: tabloid journalism. The truth was, there was nothing going on behind John’s back. Unfortunately, that wasn’t juicy enough for Moodswing.
However, Glen also understood why Formula-X needed the drama. After all, was the crowd not invested in it? Glen looked over at Moodswing who in turn was looking at the lively crowd. He was relishing it. Glen understood, alright. To Moodswing, the drama was a means to an end. But man, what an end it was. The people were loving this.
LONGITUDE & LATITUDE VS. PENNY & DIME
Following the race between Jim and Kloof, Glen went to get the helmets that represented the Relay Baron/Baroness titles. They were matte black with gold debossed designs. Glen was on the way to set the helms on the podium when he ran into Brenda who was eating ice cream out of a cup. Glen recognized the look on her face. It was the look of a racer when they were feeling left out but were just trying to act cool. Glen almost wanted to make a bet with someone that she would say she as just here to enjoy the racing.
“Hey Brenda,” said Glen. “How you doing?”
“I’m good, Glen. I’m doing great. Just, enjoying the racing.” Brenda noticed the amused look on Glen’s face. “What?”
“You know, Brenda. You can fool everyone else but you can’t fool me. I know how much you wish it was you that was racing alongside Penny for these titles,” he said gesturing to the helms.
Brenda gingerly shook her head. “You got me all wrong, Glen. I’m not interested at all in riding alongside that traitor.” Brenda reacted to a rather dirty look from Glen. “Not, that, I’m holding any grudges.”
Glen knew better than that but didn’t push it and instead proceeded with small talk. “So, I see you’re making good use of the catering department.”
Brenda lifted her spoonful of ice cream. “Oh yeah. Your guys’ catering is the bomb.” Brenda thought for a moment. “Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask. Will you guys be hiring any time soon?”
“Why are you asking?”
“Well I want to know when I can have a relay partner?”
“Well I’m sorry, Brenda. We’re not hiring. I mean, there are some racers who we’re closing a deal with but after that, we’re in a hiring freeze.” That didn’t sit well with her. “But if you want a relay partner, you can take your pick of the roster.”
Brenda was already shaking her head. “You know what, forget I asked.” She threw away her empty cup. “I’m going to go get some more ice cream.” As if on cue, the crowd came alive as the relay race ended and the announcer announced the winners of the race and new Relay Barons: Longitude and Latitude. Glen smiled. For a moment, just a moment, Glen knew what it felt like to be Moodswing and feel that thrill of the crowd loving what they had to offer. And knowing that it was him that gave it to them.
KING THAWN VS. SOLO MAGUBANE
For some reason, Glen’s palms were sweating as he watched Formula-X King, Thawn Oberhauser and Number One Claimant, Solo Magubane make their way to the start line of the racetrack. As Glen calmed himself, Moodswing walked up to him and laughed. “Why are you so nervous?”
Glen looked at him. “Moodswing, this is a big deal. This is the top title in our series. If we do this right, a lot of history is going to be built on the back of that thing." (Literally if one considered the placement of the name plate on the back of the helmet). "It represents the best racer in the series. And this is just the beginning. That history, that prestige: we still have to build it. This is the first time that title is being defended. So yeah, I’m nervous.”
“First of all, I told you all that. Second of all, that’s not any reason to be nervous. Be excited.” Moodswing was definitely excited. “Speaking of being excited, I was thinking about our feature race for tomorrow night on Fuel.” Moodswing waited for Glen’s reaction. “A Number One Claimant race.”
Glen looked at him. “Okay, I’m listening.” Glen was genuinely interested. He knew just as well as Moodswing that for their next pay-per-view, they couldn’t have a repeat of Thawn vs. Solo. They had to go with something new. “What do you have in mind?”
“A three-way match race.”
“Between whom?” said Glen, curiously.
“Well I saw you talking to Brenda.” Moodswing shrugged amusingly. “And I was thinking, she got a rough deal with Penny’s betrayal and being replaced by Dime so maybe we put her in the race. Along with the loser of this race.”
Glen was intrigued so far. “Okay. And who’s the third?”
“The third racer should be me.” The person that spoke walked up to them still dressed in her race suit. It was Stevie. “Put me in that race.”
Glen simply looked at her. “Stevie, you lost tonight. How do you expect to get given such a tremendous opportunity after losing the opening race of this pay-per-view?”
“Actually,” said Moodswing, “I kind of like it.” When Glen gave him a look, he explained himself. “What? It’s no secret that Stevie is one of the best racers in the series. One loss shouldn’t slow down her momentum. And besides, we’re only giving her a shot at the next P.P.V. feature race. We’re not placing her in it.”
Glen thought about it and then rolled his eyes. “Well it’s not like you need my permission. You being the boss and all.” Glen saw the broad smile on Stevie’s face.
Moodswing was about to give him a look about calling him ‘boss’ when the Title Race ended. Moodswing saw Thawn celebrating and smiled. “Okay, well there we have it. Tomorrow night, it will be Brenda Koek versus Solo Magubane versus Darcy Stevens.”
Glen watched as Moodswing and Stevie smiled. He looked at them and couldn’t help but be fascinated by Moodswing. Even though he didn’t like the man personally, this was the reason that he respected him as he simply had this vision of how to get the series from where it was to where he wanted it to be. And already, he had a clear idea of what he wanted his next pay-per-view to look like. But… if it was going to happen, then he was going to have to get to work. After all, Moodswing might be the brains of the series, but he was the glue that held it together.