30th of May – Season 2
When Angela Moodley had seen the sheer amount of people when she arrived, she was shocked. The streets were packed with people arriving for the event. While she'd seen crowds before at previous pay-per-views and even at the Fuel Speedway, this was different. These people could have easily numbered in the thousands. It took her almost an hour to find parking for her BMW Z4. Fortunately, she'd decided to arrive a couple of hours early.
When she eventually made her way into the PPV paddock, national sensation, Ningi Afrika (affectionately known as 'Zim' Afrika) was preparing to open the event with the National Anthem. When she found Moodswing, he was all smiles, giving Tom Cruise a run for his money. When he saw her, he quickly invited her over. "Angie, Angie come here. You need to see this."
When the former Ms. Mabaso walked over to her husband, he showed her a piece of paper in his hand with numbers riddled over it. She paid attention to the last column and her jaw dropped. "Terrance, these numbers can't be right."
"Oh they are," he said gleefully. "We've doubled our revenue from the first Grand Prix."
"Wow. Congrats. You and Glen must be thrilled." She looked around the paddock. "Where is Glen?"
"He's in the pitlane, working on something. That man never relaxes. I showed him the numbers but he's still concerned with perfecting a show that's already perfect."
Angela's eyes moved up to the closest screen which showed the racecard of the night. "I'm not surprised, Terrance. The opening race is a four-way relay race." Angela looked back at him and saw that he couldn't care less about the details. He only cared about the money coming in. She rolled her eyes. "Well, I'm gonna go find him."
The search for Glen had led Angela to the pitlane only to find he had already left for the PPV paddock. Angela was about to go after him but got distracted by the shiny vehicles currently lined up in the pitlane awaiting the upcoming race. It was rare to see so many cars in the pitlane at the same time, especially in this franchise. It looked more like a Formula 1 pitlane.
Currently in the pitlane were Heads & Tails, The Dollar Coin & The Silverback Nickle, The Amazing Grace & The Corporal Faith and The Voodoo Vervet & The Scarecrow. The sight was something to behold. Angela decided to forego finding Glen for the moment and watch the opening race from right there.
As the wife of the Club President, Angela didn't even have to ask to join one of the pit-crews as she was basically invited to join the closest one. She put on the headphones just in time to not go deaf when all right vehicles roared to life. It was time for this grand prix to get on the way.
THE FOUR-WAY RELAY BARON TITLE RACE
The excitement was truly in the air as the four racers starting the race stood at the start line with their partners waiting in the ranks. At the line was Blackcat, Penny, Doris, and Latitude – each having opted to start the race on their respective teams behalves taking the odd laps – and they all looked hell-bent as if this were Lap 20.
The race kicked off with Doris taking the lead narrowly from a determined Penny to a roaring response from the crowd. They were clearly the favorites. But just when it looked like she was going to hand over the lead to her sister Brenda with the Koeks as the clear leaders, Latitude pulled off an impressive move finding a gap between Penny and Doris to give his brother and fellow Relay Baron the lead.
As Longitude led the second lap, the crowd was on their feet showing appreciation for the spectacular action in front of them and why shouldn't they? This race was living up to the spectacle of the event with the racers putting in their absolute best performances. Over the next five laps of this 20 Lap Relay Race, the lead changed a total of 7 times with Doris finally recapturing the lead in Lap 7 and handing it over to Brenda in Lap 8.
While it was well documented that Penny & Dime were not happy to be teamed up again, they were making the best of it as Dime was putting the pressure from second position. They handed over their positions in Lap 8 but by Lap 9, Doris' first place position was threatened by Latitude as the defending monarch looked to capture the lead for his team once again.
However, it was only in Lap 10 – the halfway mark of the race – that Latitude's brother captured the lead and the Relay Barons were leading the race once again. However, that wasn't the only way the complexion of the race had changed as Brenda had also lost second position to Fiona, now contending for the lead.
By the time Lap 11 came about, race leader Doris was under an even bigger threat with Blackcat on her backside. It came to a bit of a head towards the end of Lap 11 when Blackcat captured the lead and handed it over to Fiona. However, Fiona lost the lead soon after to Longitude only for Dime to shock everyone by taking the lead by finding a gap but lost it before he could 'tag in' Penny, submitting the lead back to Fiona in time for Blackcat to reenter the race in Lap 13 in front.
While Blackcat held the lead for the majority of the lap, he submitted it to Latitude who then handed it back to his brother in Lap 14. They would dominate the rest of the race. But it was the penultimate lap that saw another flurry of changes in leadership and in shock, it was Blackcat who came out with the lead, handing it to Fiona for the final lap who kept it to capture the win and be announced as the nneeeww Relay Baron and Baroness in their second reign.
MANDLA XULU vs. JOHN KLOOF
Angela was still buzzing from the exciting opening race and couldn't help but feel that it had lived up to the hype. Now with fifteen minutes before the next race, Angela set out on her search again and ended up in the paddock but couldn't find him. Instead, she bumped into none other than the Formula-X King.
"Hi, Angela," Solo Magubane. "You look like a woman on a mission. What's up?"
"Looking for Glen. Have you seen him?"
"He just left "
"Where did he go?"
"I don't know. But considering that it's the Grand Prix, he could be anywhere and everywhere. So good luck finding him "
Angela rolled her eyes but then shrugged it off. She looked at Solo and noticed an intense look in his eye. "Are you good? You look out of sorts."
"No, I'm good. I'm just low-key fired up for the feature race is all."
"Really because, not to offend you, what with you being the most experienced racer in the series but you look a bit nervous." His look didn't change. "Is it because you haven't met your opponent before?"
He shook his head. "No. And not just because I've actually met her, unofficially speaking." Solo saw that this was news to Angela. "Yeah, on Monday after Fuel. Anyway, I guess what's getting to me is the grandeur of this event and the fact that I'm headlining it." At that moment, two F-X stars took to the street circuit to a loud reception from the crowd. "I mean, how did they do it last year?"
Indeed, Mandla and Kloof had headlined the First Formula-X Grand Prix and had done a spectacular job. They had truly set the standard and this race, in earnest, was because of the result of that race. In essence, Mandla wanted revenge for his loss a year ago.
It had been an interesting road for both of them since then with 'Amandla's Rebellion', Kloof's financial woes saga, and then their short-lived relay team-up. For a series that wasn't scripted, it was an impressive build-up: a return race that was a year in the making.
Angela had decided to forego looking for Glen again in order to witness this firecracker of a grudge race. Despite there only being two of them, the race had the crowd in a frenzy just as much as the opener and saw no clear leader in the first three laps of the 20 Lap contest.
Eventually, Kloof began to inch away in the fourth lap and wrestle the lead from Mandla, clinging onto it until the halfway mark which was when Mandla found a gap and overtook the family man.
It was surreal to see the very different reaction from the fandom compared to the reaction during the height of 'Amandla's Rebellion' as they were actually booing 'The Steamroller'. Although it should not have been surprising considering Mandla's actions over the past few months. Shades of this reception were already in play at Heart-Break City when they faced off in a drag race. Mandla had won that one and was on his way to winning this one as Lap 16 came about.
However, Kloof – a racer who was looking for a Grand Prix winner's paycheck to settle his debts – was not taking anything lying down and began to rally, attacking Mandla at every turn. His chance finally came in Lap 17 when he overtook Mandla and began leading the race.
Unfortunately, Mandla wasn't that easy to put away and began rallying in his own right going into the twentieth and final lap. And as if out of some kind of physical manifestation of motorsport poetry, Mandla hit his power boost button passing Kloof to take the lead. However, unlike when Kloof had done it at Arbor Games, Mandla had hit the button too early giving Kloof enough time to his the power boost button himself and regain the lead and held it for the victory.
In a polar opposite to one year ago, the crowd went crazy in cheers, celebrating with Kloof who brought his family with him to the Winner's Circle. It was there that Angela saw Glen at the corner of the screen. So that's where you are, thought Angela.
GAUNTLET IV: MOTOMANIA
This time Angela didn't bother to go to the Winner's Circle to catch up with Glen, concluding that he wouldn't be there when she got there. Instead, she remained in the paddock believing that he'd come back and decided to stay put and watch the Gauntlet Race from there.
"There have only ever been three gauntlet races in the history of Formula-X. That's how rare these races are and no racer, no gauntleteer has ever, ever, beaten the gauntlet runner in this type of race. So can either Darcy Stevens, Styles Sithole, or Touch Mkhize?" Those were the words out of Captain Ken Khumalo on commentary, painting the picture of the race. "Thawn Oberhauser will be the man to beat."
Angela just had to smile at just how put together this event was. Moodswing and Glen had outdone himself. It was one thing to put together an episode of Monday Night Fuel – even on a weekly basis, that was one thing – but a spectacle of this magnitude, this proportion was outstanding.
The race itself immediately measured up to the hype with Thawn immediately taking the lead against Styles: the first gauntleteer. While Styles tried to mount a comeback knowing he only had 10 laps to do it but to no avail. However, Styles' attempt proved monumentally important as it allowed Stevie – the second gauntleteer – a fighting chance when she entered the race.
The live crowd was cheering for Stevie as she managed a better effort of attacking Thawn than Styles. Thawn kept the lead for most of the ten laps and it was clear that the expectancy was for Thawn to survive the second phase of the gauntlet. So the crowd was beside itself when Stevie actually managed to overtake Thawn, losing all sense of composure.
When Stevie did the unthinkable and won the race, even Angela was shocked. She'd done it. "As I live and breathe, she's done it! The nineteen-year-old Darcy Stevens has broken the gauntlet. And on the grandest stage that Formula-X has to offer. The Diamond in the Rough has done it!"
"I think, Miss Honeycomb, we can officially call her simply 'The Diamond of Formula-X.' Wow, what a performance."
The commentary was on point: Stevie was now simply 'The Diamond' and that was one hell of a performance. As Angela continued to relish in what she'd just seen, she was joined by a familiar voice.
"That woman is destined for great things, wouldn't you say?" When Angela turned around, she was greeted by Glen's smile. "How are you doing, Angela?"
JIM KIECK vs. TEMPER KUNENE
Glen and Angela had opted to go for a walk about the patrons as Glen had said he needed a break from running around like a headless chicken all day.
"So, when did you get here, Angela?"
"Just before the pay-per-view started. I meant to be here earlier but I didn't know the traffic would be so bad."
Glen smiled. "Well, Moodswing sure did. He saw the buy rates a few weeks ago and has been giddy ever since."
Angela noticed he was speaking singularly. "And what about you? Didn't you get excited by the buy rates?"
Glen's smile broadened. "Oh you know how we work. Moodswing handles the business element, I handle the races." As if on cue, the next race began. While Glen and Angela weren't actually watching 'The Playboy' and 'The Hot Head' get it on, they could tell by the sudden roar of the crowd.
"Speaking of races, why is this one on the racecard?" Angela continued upon seeing Glen's animated raised eyebrows. "I'm just saying, this rivalry was born, what, a week ago? How did it qualify for the Grand Prix?"
"You don't see it?" Once again, as if on cue, the race dished out a surprise when Temper gained the lead and began controlling the race. "Angela, this isn't just about the rivalry. It's about the racers. It's about a hot-headed new guy trying to find his place and a player that had a bad stint at the top and is trying to find his identity. Now what happens when those two people collide?"
This time, it was Angela that smiled. "You sound like my husband." The race then ended and Jim Kieck was named the winner. "I guess that's what happens when they collide." They both laughed.
"Well it's time for our main event. What do you say we go watch it from the VIP area?"
Angela nodded. "Main event? I thought you guys were insistent on calling it a feature race."
"Nah. The idea was to make those two terms synonymous. And I think we've done alright."
Angela heard the crowd come alive at the announcement of the feature race and knew that yes, they'd done alright. But now, it was time to see if this year's 'main event' could live up to last year's one...
KING SOLO MAGUBANE vs. DEVì
As Angela took her seat in the VIP area next to Glen and Moodswing who wanted to watch the centerpiece of his creation, she thought about the year's feature race being compared to last year's. It was unfair especially considering the circumstances.
Firstly, the fandom had already just seen a return race of feature race of the First Formula-X Grand Prix reminding them of that great race; secondly, the races so far had been so spectacular that this one would have a lot to live up to; and thirdly, the challenger for King Solo's title would be making her debut right here tonight. How could it live up to the original?
Fortunately, when King Solo came out onto the racetrack, he no longer looked out of sets. He looked ready and the crowd was pumped. When the challenger came out, there was a mixed reaction with the fans not sure what to make of this woman in orange. However, something told Angela that Devì was more than ready after secretly scouting Solo this past Monday.
When the race kicked off, it was almost as if Solo and Devì had heard Angela's thoughts as the race was an adrenaline rush from the word go. It was a frenzy in the early goings of the 30 Lap Feature Race with no clear leader in the first seven laps. And throughout this time, the fandom didn't know what to think as the expectation was for Solo to be the clear leader.
The F-X King eventually lived up to his reputation and took the lead in Lap 9 and held onto it dominantly throughout the second third of the race. However, throughout this period, Devì stalked the King, keeping to his blind spots. It was only in Lap 22 that she snuck past him but only managed to hold it for the duration of the lap before surrendering it back to Solo by Lap 23.
King Solo dominated once again until the drama picked up in Lap 29 as the challenger seemingly realized that time was running out. Throughout the lap, it was a game of cat and mouse leading right into Lap 30 before Devì did the unthinkable overtook Solo with only half a lap to go. The challenger then began defending desperately but it eventually paid off when the unthinkable happened...
"Here is your winner and the nneeeww Formula-X Queen in her first reign, Devì!!!" There was a hush in the crowd with no one knowing what to think. However, when Devì finally took off her helmet to reveal a gorgeous Indian woman, the wolf whistles began. She was definitely a looker.
As the fans watched the first woman to hold the Crown, Angela watched Solo who truly looked saddened by the loss. She then turned to Moodswing who was ecstatic. She could only manage that this reaction was because having a beautiful woman as the top 'guy' could only be good for business.
However, she then turned to Glen who was also satisfied with the result. "Am I missing something here? I thought you guys would be rooting for Solo."
"Solo's returning to Auto One again until November. So having someone beat him for the title before he left spares us not having a Crown for two months."
"Anyway, it's time for the after-party. So I'll see you guys there," said Glen already on his way.
"Yeah," said Angela after Glen was long gone, "after party." She looked at her husband. "I don't suppose you're interested in a party?"
"On the contrary my wife. We have lots to celebrate. And we're VIPs. But before we go, I need to go down there and congratulate our new Queen. In fact, I think I'll even give her a VIP ticket."
As Angela watched her husband basically run after another woman to her amusement, she thought about the tremendous success of the night. It was everything it was meant to be and now there was no doubt that there would be a third grand prix. But before that or even before the season that preceded the Third Formula-X Grand Prix, they would get a well deserved three month hiatus. But what a way to kick off that hiatus: with thunderous applause!