17th of May – Season 3
For the past three years, people have told me that when I signed up to become an F-X reporter that I was flushing an otherwise promising career down the toilet. And who could blame them? Unlike my fellow resident reporters, I was in my early thirties when I signed up with Formula-X. I didn’t need the experience and I was capable of starting my own media enterprise. So the question became: why did I sign up to be a glorified paparazzi working like a glorified tabloid journalist? The answer: it was for the stories.
The one thing that no journalist will tell you is that it absolutely is true is that there is no new story out there for you to find; no new news for you to break. It’s the same old narrative but with new characters. Nothing fresh. So I left, not to become a tabloid journalist but so I could tell fascinating stories about real people who weren’t following a script; the kind of stories that could only be told in the world of sports entertainment. And there is one type of story that I fell head over heels in love with: the story of rivalries.
Rivalries are a staple of all sports but the lifeblood of sports entertainment. Without rivalries, there is no attachment from the fans; there is no relation with the everyday man and there is no heart-pounding feeling when your favourite competitor overcomes their foe. This is why I love what I do. And with the ‘Highway to the Grand Prix’ overflowing with intense rivalries every season, this time of year is my own personal Christmas. And this year is no different.
But enough about me. It’s time for me to see what Santa put under the tree for me. It’s time to see whether I’d been naughty or nice because Lord knows, the world is a more entertaining place when there’s a bit of both in the world.
THE ART OF THE PROMO
“You want us to do what?”
“I want you to come nose to nose.” It was clear that the instruction was lost on both Solo Magubane and Touch Mkhize so the videographer explained the purpose while Belinda watched from behind her. “Come on guys, it’s a classic promo shot. The video is going to end with you guys staring intensely into each other’s eyes.”
“Right,” said Solo, still complaining. “And we have to do this in an abandoned warehouse?”
“Well that part, I understand,” said Touch, giving the videographer at least a little reprieve. “It’s going to be like those wrestling pay-per-view promos they show to promote a big match. But what I don’t get is the nose-to-nose thing,” he said, turning to the videographer. Touch went on after the videographer slumped her shoulders with a sigh. “I mean, can’t we do back to back? That’s a cool pose, right?”
“Fine, fine. Whatever. Let’s just get this over with. I still have to edit this into a final product to put online by tomorrow.” So the videographer did her job while Touch and Solo posed. Belinda had always been a fan of her work even before joining Formula-X so it had been easy to vouch for her to get this gig with Moodswing. She had a keen eye for setting and wardrobe. That’s why they were in the warehouse and Touch and Solo was wearing tuxedos.
However, it wasn’t those things in and of themselves that attracted Belinda to the videographer’s work, it was that she knew how to tell stories too. It was the reason that Solo wore a white tuxedo and Touch a black one. She was telling the story of light vs. dark or good vs. evil without explicitly stating it. But currently, she was upset that Touch and Solo weren’t listening to her. But when Solo and Touch started bickering, Belinda had a hunch and told the videographer to continue filming.
“So when are you going to give me an answer?”
“I didn’t know I was on a deadline, Touch.”
“Well, the Grand Prix is in two weeks.”
“Well, then it would appear that I have two weeks.”
Touch scoffed, beginning to get angry. “Hold on a second. For years, you’ve made it like you’re better than me. But when I ask you to put your money where your mouth is, you stay silent? What gives?”
“You’re asking me to put my job on the line over a race, Khabazela. And you expect me to what, jump at the opportunity?”
“No. The opportunity I expect you to jump at is the chance to end your pay-per-view losing streak. This would just be the price of admission. Or have you gotten so comfortable losing that you’re down with going down at the Grand Prix.”
“Oh, I’m not going down at the Grand Prix. You are.”
If either Solo or Touch had looked at Belinda and the videographer at that point, they would have seen that they were both smiling. And the reason they were smiling was because the videographer had gotten her shot. Touch and Solo were nose to nose, staring intensely into each other’s eyes.
Belinda hoped that Touch won his race against Thawn Oberhauser later tonight on Fuel because this rivalry needed that kind of momentum to make it what Belinda already knew it was: a must-see big time race!
THE STORY OF THE DIAMOND AND THE OLD RAZOR
Many believe that this story began just a few weeks ago when Moodswing hired his old friend, Deak de Villiers who would subsequently become Number One Claimant in his first race. But that’s not true. This story began back in September when Darcy Stevens won the Formula-X Crown from Devì and began the longest reign in F-X history. It’s a story that’s rooted in one simple question: who can beat ‘The Diamond’?
After all, by the time Deak came knocking, she’d successfully defended her title in match races, three-way races, four-way races, and Gauntlet Races. She’d beaten Penny Potgieter, Brenda Koek, Solo Magubane, and Thawn Oberhauser. She had proven herself to be the best which was why when Deak beat her for the title, it hit so hard. He’d done what no one else could.
While Belinda was heartbroken that Deak hadn’t even been bothered to show up for his promo, she was elated to hear that she would still have plenty of stories to work with because the new F-X King had asked for something special to be made out of a tradition.
“So ‘The Diamond’ is calling me out, huh? Well, I hear her. I hear her and I think that I might just do something about that. I believe we have a contract signing coming up. Since I have no interest in coming to Fuel, maybe ‘The Diamond’ would be interested in coming to me at my old haunt.”
Belinda had been smiling ear to ear when she watched the clip on the Formulary. This was an amazing next chapter for their story. Bringing Stevie out of her element only enhanced the narrative because this story was now rooted in a very different question: can Stevie win her title back?
THE STORY OF THE XULU/KLOOF RIVALRY
“So how are your articles going?” Toney Kunene was a fellow resident F-X reporter who was known for her honesty in her articles as well as her ability to recognize future stars.
“Well actually. My stories are going to be on the biggest rivalries heading into the Grand Prix.”
“Interesting because I’m writing about a rivalry myself.”
This was news to Belinda. “Really? Which one?”
“Well actually, I can’t decide. I either want to write about Thawn Oberhauser and Jim Kieck or these two,” said Toney, pointing at the big screen above them.
“Mandla Xulu and John Kloof, huh? I can see why you’re torn. Both are good.”
“I know, right. On one hand, I have arguably the all-time greatest rivalry in Formula-X history: a Grand Prix trilogy race. On the other, I have an underrated gem that no one talks about but could definitively steal the show. I mean, one is brimming with history and would be easy to write while the other is brimming with potential and all it needs is a good hand to shape the perfect narrative.”
Belinda saw Toney’s dilemma but also saw the answer. “I know how to solve this. Since Thawn has already lost his race to Touch earlier tonight, we can’t use that but what if we made a wager on this race. If Mandla and John win, you write the article on them. If Longitude and Latitude win, then you write about Thawn and Jim.”
The race was beautiful. It was a relay race billed ‘Enemies Unite’ because Mandla and John had to co-exist against the former two-time Relay Barons. With Mandla taking the odd-numbered laps and John taking the even-numbered laps, the stage had been set for a masterpiece.
With beautiful exchanges between Mandla and John and breath-taking near misses and overtakes, it was as if Toney’s mind was being made for her even before the race ended. Mandla and John just had beautiful chemistry. Even after all this time, their passion for racing and the resultant competitiveness blew any other rivalry Toney could write about out of the water. While Thawn and Jim might have also been former Kings, it was these two former Kings that had made the best out of their rivalry, becoming cemented as stars.
“I think I know who I’m going to write about,” said Toney before the finish line was crossed.
“Yeah, I think you do.” When Mandla and John crossed the finish line, it only confirmed what Toney already knew.
THE WOMEN’S DYNASTY
The Women’s Dynasty was never meant to be a saga. It wasn’t even meant to be a chapter of the Third Season. It was simply a statement uttered by ‘Pretty’ Penny Potgieter calling her shot. Who knew that she’d coined an expression that would sum up the entire season. While Pretty Penny would make the best of her own creation, her momentum would come to a screeching halt in a race that many thought she’d win: The Scramble Race. But while Pretty Penny tended to her wounds, another woman rose to stardom: Savana.
This would be a slow-burn rivalry which actually started out as a feud between Plain Jane Deyi and Pretty Penny. But Pretty Penny made it clear that she was uninterested in returning to the track to face Plain Jane. However, when Savana stole her spot in the big marketing campaign, Pretty Penny had decided she wasn’t having it. And she said as much when she arrived on Touching Base.
“Do I think I can beat ‘The Dojo’ on the biggest stage in motorsport? Well I’m still waiting for Savana to accept my challenge but if you’re asking whether my injury has affected my driving skills, then you should remember who you’re talking to. I’m the face of the Women’s Dynasty. When it comes to the Women’s Dynasty, Savana is nothing but a knockoff; a cheap substitute. I’m the real makhoya.
“And while I wanted nothing to do with her in a race, I want to take this time to thank your girlfriend, Plain Jane as she was my inspiration behind my name. Because I love the idea of turning an insult into a powerful statement.”
Whether it’s two men fighting over ego; a man and a woman fighting over a title or two women fighting to see who’s the best, there’s just nothing like a rivalry to make a sport just that much more entertaining. And with this being just the penultimate episode of Monday Night Fuel this season, there’s just enough time for fireworks to go off before the Grand Prix.
Until next time diary,