22nd of November – Season 3
When John Kloof had read the post on the Formulary, his heart had skipped a beat. How could it not? The first ever Formula-X Queen had named him as the only former King she regretted never facing while she was reigning Queen. She'd even name-checked his career highlights, admitting that his rise to the top in season 1 had been inspiring to her. However, it was the Club President that made the dream come true by sanctioning the race. But it wasn't just Devì's dream he'd fulfilled.
Ever since losing that One K.M. Derby to Penny all those weeks ago, John had fallen very far. While he'd hoped that he'd still hold on to his feature-racer status, admittedly, by no longer being on the line of succession, he'd also lost his drawing power... that was until now. That was because not only had Moodswing made the race the feature race of the night, but he'd also made it an exhibition race meaning that any proceeds for the race would go to charity and not them which raised the profile of the race tremendously.
As John thought about the race as his wife, Debra, drove him to the Fuel Speedway, John couldn't help but think back to that episode where – in his mind – he cemented himself as a feature-racer...
20th of April – Season 1
"You're a brave man, Johnny," said Debra driving their Citi Golf to the Speedway. "I wouldn't have told everyone that I'm not going to be beaten until the end of the season."
John smiled at his wife. "It was a calculated risk, vrou. I need to make an impact if I'm going to be considered a serious threat to the King."
"Well, it worked. That Sithole guy challenged you."
"And I'm happy that someone took notice but I need the big guns to take notice if I'm going to make an impact. That's how it works around here."
"Mhmm," said John's wife. "But still, you have to admit that you've made an impact. Say whatever you want Johnny, but when you make it to the top of the mountain, you'll look back on this day as the day you started the climb."
After being dropped off at the Fuel Speedway, John made his way to Catering, opting to start there rather than at the paddock. Ever since his F-X paycheck took a hit all those months back, John had been subjected to capitalizing on the free food provided by the franchise. It was the one time a week where he didn't have to worry about dinner. The fact and the matter was, the cost of living was too high and the money coming in was too low. However, Formula-X was not the realm of real world problems. This was the realm of the melodramatic problems.
The moment John walked into the cantina, he noticed a couple sitting at a table making out. This was irregular simply because it was something anyone who'd been with the franchise as long as John had would expect to be a normal thing to see. Yet, even with all the drama; with all the Valentine's Day pay-per-views; with all the rumors about relationships between racers, this was the first time that John had seen two racers making out in the eating area not caring who was watching. Of course, what made it interesting was who they were: JVZ and Teresa.
The eighteen-year-old was sitting on JVZ's lap, kissing him passionately. John suspected, from how much passion was there, that this was as close as they'd gotten to consummating their relationship and if that was the case, good for them for waiting. John was still making his order when the lovebirds were interrupted.
"Excuse me, but if you could take a break from sticking your tongue down my baby sister's throat, I'd like a minute to talk to her." A minute later, Doris was sitting across from a lone Teresa. "You're really trying to rile us up, aren't you?"
Teresa, confident from her independence, proudly responded. "Your mistake is thinking that my relationship with Juan has anything to do with either of you."
Doris scoffed. "Argh, relationship. Anyway, I didn't come up here for that."
"Right, because Lord knows that Brenda won't shut up about it," chirped Teresa.
"I came because you have a race with Blackcat tonight and we want to talk to you about strategy. And we'd prefer it if we did that before we walk out there tonight."
"Actually, about that. I'm going out there with Juan if that's okay with you. He'll be in the pitlane with me so you guys can take the night off."
Doris went from wide eyes to scoffing again, this time in defeat. "Okay. Fine, whatever. But I hope you guys are using protection." Doris was out the door before Teresa could tell her that she was still a virgin.
John had been amused by the whole conversation mostly because she wondered if his daughter would grow up to be like Teresa: rebellious but cautious. Or, if she'd be more like Doris and Brenda: devout and faithful to what they were taught. Either way, he and Debra definitely had their work cut out for them.
As if the drama wasn't already at an all-time high, just as John entered the paddock, he immediately became witness to Moodswing feeding his sports entertainment ego. He was currently talking to Dime and Thawn Oberhauser about a race they were going to have tonight, except that it wasn't a race but a One Kilometer Derby. It was Dime and Thawn's loud complaints that caught the attention of all the others.
"I don't want to hear it. You two have been complaining all week on the Formulary," said Moodswing.
"But he started it," said Thawn. "He was the one who claimed the nominations were a farce." It was true. Earlier in the week, Dime posted a strongly worded video where he called out the Club Committee having only nominated feature-racers so far. Thawn continued. "All I said was that I didn't understand why I'm not on the Show-Down racecard."
"Yeah, well now you have an opportunity to go to Show-Down at the Capital. All you have to do is defeat Dime here."
"What!?" exclaimed Dime.
Moodswing continued as if Dime hadn't spoken. "Because Dime will be staking his pay-per-view spot at Show-Down." Dime was either on the verge of screaming or crying but either way, his facial expression was hilarious and depressing at the same time.
"And what will I be staking?" said Thawn, already ahead of the curb.
"You'll be staking your pole position in the Formula-X Cup race at the Year-End Bash."
"What, why? What does that have to with anything?"
Moodswing simply shrugged. "I guess because it amuses me." Moodswing then walked away only to notice John and go to him. "Well, well, well. If it isn't John Kloof, the feature-racer of the night."
"Well, I am hoping that it will be a recurring gig."
"Mmm. Looking to re-ascend the line of succession even though you know you will get no title shot?"
"You know just as well as anyone that it's the paycheck I'm after, not the glory."
"So you're comfortable making it all the way to the top, even being ranked better than the Queen herself yet having nothing to show for it?"
"If it means keeping my daughter in school and a roof over my family's head then yes." John didn't bother mentioning that his banning from getting a title shot only lasted until the Year-End Bash since he already knew that.
"Well if it makes you feel better, you're not the only one in the Queen's shadow. Touch will be facing the Queen in a drag race in the opening contest so there's that."
Touch has got Stevie in the opening race!? John swore. The entire point of tonight was to be the highlight of the night. But if Touch stole the show...?
LATER THAT NIGHT
It took most of the show for John to calm down which was mostly due to almost every race up until now being something of a show-stealer. First there was Touch Mkhize successfully upsetting the F-X Queen with a victory; then there was Dime pulling off perhaps the greatest victory of his career against Thawn before Teresa (earning many a stare with JVZ on her arm) defeated Blackcat Mathunzi which she followed up by smooching her man in front of the world. This was then followed by the latest Formula-X Cup nominations segment.
This week, the award for OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AS DUKE OR DUCHESS OF DRAG was announced and – as if Moodswing had planned it out – Teresa's older sister, Brenda, came out to receive the award to the cheers of all the fandom. This meant that Brenda now joined Thawn, Styles and Mandla in the still-growing list of racers who would be competing for the Cup at the Year-End Bash. Following a graciously weak outing by Jim Kieck and Savana (which saw Savana come out victorious), it was now time for John to prove that he could still compete at the highest level.
The first thing that John noticed while sizing Devì up during her entrance onto the race track was that the ex-Queen genuinely believed that she could get away with anything just by smiling and winking. Unfortunately for the Asian Aphrodite, her mind games were lost on a man like him: still in love with his wife, years after saying their wedding vows.
The race was interesting with there being absolutely no stakes for either of them. Except, of course, there were stakes, at least for John. While he'd be surrendering his winnings to charity as stipulated per the rules, winning this race would afford him other opportunities to headline Fuel meaning he'd have other opportunities to earn feature-racer money. This was a means to an end and he was highly motivated.
The race was highly competitive in the early laps with no clear leader. It occurred to John in this moment that perhaps Devì understood what was at stake too as surely she wanted to climb back to the top as well. She was clearly just as motivated as she managed to capture the lead and led the race as of Lap 6. However, not to be outdone, John remained close in attacking position and finally usurped the lead from Devì in Lap 9 by almost taking her off the track!
Devì had not liked this and showed this when she recovered and managed to take the lead back in Lap 11. She held onto it for as long as she could but at the end of the day, John wanted it more and stole the lead in the final lap taking the victory.
Was this enough to cement his place as a feature-racer even though he was no longer in the line of succession? Only time would tell. The only way to know for sure, was when his banning ended at the end of the year and find out if he would have to start from the bottom of the ladder.