Author: BigD1987 PM
Super Formula: The name for the most popular racing class in the 2020s. The cars are highly advanced and the competition is fierce. It takes a special kind of driver to win.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Humor - Chapters: 4 - Words: 21,270 - Reviews: 6 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 03-27-11 - Published: 02-23-11 - id: 2893748
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sunday, February 23, 2025. Race day. The sun rose over the Bahrain International Circuit, bathing it in the morning light. Some cars drove into the parking lot. The first fans were arriving for the Gulf Air Grand Prix of Bahrain. The crews waking up began working on their respective cars, giving them one last tune-up before the big race. The fans went to the pre-race merchandise and sponsor booths. The drivers awoke to the first race of the year.
Kevin Reilly had a different wake-up. He didn't lower the blinds in his Winnebago and he had to wake up to the sun in his eyes. Grimacing, he turned over to try and get some more sleep. He sighed, hoping to get a little more shut-eye.
Knock knock knock! "Hey, Kevin!" Dammit. Reggie woke him up. "Come on, wake up!" He called out. Kevin covered his head with the pillow. Knock knock knock! "Hey! You have a race today!" Oh, shit!
Kevin bolted up from bed and hurried out, stumbling to the floor. Then he went over to the window and opened it up. "Okay, I'll be out in a few!" Reggie nodded and Kevin got ready.
After his morning rituals, Kevin came out of the Winnebago dressed in a T-shirt and shorts. "So what's on the morning agenda?"
"You have to sign some autographs and meet some characters," said Reggie. Kevin cursed at the mention of 'characters'.
"You gotta be kidding me," he said.
"Sorry," said Reggie. "Disney wants you to pose with Mickey."
"Mickey can kiss my ass," Kevin muttered. "What else?"
"Driver's meeting about two hours before the race."
"Okay, drivers' meeting I can handle," he said. "You want me to eat first?"
"That would be a good idea," said Reggie. Kevin went back inside and made breakfast.
After breakfast Kevin went with Reggie to the Disney tent where he would be signing autographs, most likely for little kids and curious people wondering who the New Guy is. There was actually a pretty decent-sized crowd on hand to see him. And quite a few of them were kids. No big surprise, there. Kevin waited for his time to go on stage with his agent. Yes, his agent came to Bahrain. He just got there yesterday. "Can you do a better booking job?" He asked.
"Sorry," said Greg, his agent. "Sponsor wanted you to do this, so I couldn't do much about it."
"Shit," said Kevin.
"Watch the language," said Greg. "There are kids here. You like kids, don't you?"
"I like kids, but I don't like the sponsor," said Kevin. He sighed in annoyance. The MC kept talking, probably waiting to introduce him. Then a stagehand poked his head behind the curtains.
"You're on in 2 minutes," the stagehand said. Kevin sighed again.
"This sucks," said Kevin. "Ford pavilion better have something good."
"It might," said Greg. The two waited until Kevin's name was called.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Reilly!" The MC shouted. Kevin sighed, put on a fake smile and walked out on stage. He tried to look glad to be there, waving to the crowd and putting on a fake smile. He walked right past Mickey Mouse, who looked like a wanna-be race car driver. Screw him. "So Kevin, what's up?"
"Oh, not much got a big race, today." Bit of an understatement.
"What do you think of Bahrain?"
"Okay, okay," the MC replied. His name is Anwar al-Baradei, a popular Middle Eastern TV personality. Kevin had to hand it to Disney. They do a good booking job. "Are you excited for today?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty excited," said Kevin. Bit of a lie, there. He was nervous last night but the humiliation of sharing the stage with Mickey Mouse kind of ruined it. He just wanted this humiliation over with.
"You have a pretty tough race ahead of you," said al-Baradei. Gee, you think? "How are you going to prepare?"
"Well, I've done this before," said Kevin. "I think I can do it again."
"He's got a tough field ahead of him, who do you think is the toughest?"
"Might be Barrichello," said Kevin. "I've heard of him."
"Well, good luck and thanks for being here Kevin," said al-Baradei. Kevin shook his head and gave another fake smile before posing with him and Mickey.
"Ugh, that was embarrassing," Kevin said as he walked off-stage.
"Tell me about it," said al-Baradei.
"At least someone shares my pain," said Kevin. He turned and pointed to Greg. "You fuckin' owe me."
"So does my agent," said al-Baradei. "By the way, why don't you come on my show sometime?"
"Uh, it depends," said Kevin. "If I win, I'll show up in person. If I crash and burn, I won't show up."
"I'll take a satellite interview," said al-Baradei.
"Good enough. By the way, I don't speak Arabic."
"I'm on an English channel, too."
"Kevin, we need you to start signing the autographs," said Greg. Kevin sighed and resigned himself to his fate.
For the next hour Kevin signed autographs at the Disney SF pavilion. Most of the people in attendance were indeed curious as to who the New Guy was. Some of them came for Mickey. Others were dead set on getting signatures from every single driver. Knowing he had no other choice, Kevin signed their books, Tabs, photos and whatever they gave to him to sign. He even posed for a few photographs. He also shook hands, bowed, etc. But for the most part he did his job. He doesn't hate public appearances, mind you. In fact, he likes them. Well, he did like them in NASCAR. At least the last sponsor wasn't Disney.
Just then, a model of his Sprint Cup car appeared in his field of view. Looking up, he saw a guy wearing a t-shirt with his old car. "Hi," said the fan. "Um, I was a fan when you were in the Sprint Cup." Kevin smiled. "I was even at the 2024 Daytona 500."
"You just brightened by day," Kevin said, signing the fan's model. The fan smiled from ear-to-ear. Then a little girl stepped up to the table. She seemed nervous or excited to see him. She said something in Arabic, but since we know Kevin doesn't speak a word of it, he had no idea what she just said.
"Her name's Akilah," an older man, presumably her father, said. "My name is Muhammed. She really wanted to meet a driver today. But the lines at the other pavilions were too long. So we came here. I hope I'm not offending you or anything."
"Not at all," Kevin replied, signing the girl's Tab (they're descendents of the iPad). He then posed with the girl. She seemed genuinely happy to get Kevin's autograph and photo.
"Shukran!" she said. Again, Kevin had no bloody idea. Then Muhammed whispered in his ear. Kevin nodded, understanding now.
"Ahlan… Wa… Sahlan," he replied. The girl smiled. Even though he kind of struggled with it, she was still excited. It actually put a smile on Kevin's face. Looks like he just made a new fan.
"Thank you," Muhammed said as he left. Well, considering he just made a little girl's day better, the situation wasn't as bad as he thought it was. Now he only had 30 minutes left.
Thirty minutes later the autograph session was done. All he had was a 15-minute appearance at the Ford pavilion. Then he could get a good racer's lunch and go to the drivers' meeting. After that, the pre-race ceremonies would begin. The Ford pavilion was within walking distance of the Disney pavilion. He could walk there if he wanted to, which he did. Taking his pass, he left for the Ford pavilion.
The bright side of being a rookie was that no one (aside from the people who were at the Disney pavilion) recognized him, so he could walk among the crowd. He thought he could, anyway. Some Bahrainis about his age noticed him. "Hey!" The one wearing a white track jacket called out. Kevin froze in place and looked. "You're one of the drivers, aren't you?"
"Liar. I saw your face in the program." Kevin sighed in annoyance.
"Alright," he said. "What would you like?"
"A photo and an autograph."
"I can do that," said Kevin. "But I have to make it quick; I have an event to get to."
"Okay!" the Bahraini with the track jacket said. Kevin quickly posed for the photo and signed their autograph books. When that was done, he hurried over to the Ford pavilion. This was less humiliating than the Disney event (aside from brightening some kids' days). All he had to do was just show up, answer a few questions and leave. It took 30 minutes and he was able to leave. Now, it was time for the driver's meeting.
When he was done, he took an apple with him to eat on the way to the drivers' meeting. He would have another one later. He needed to keep his biological fuel tank full before the race.
He took a golf cart into the track grounds where the drivers' meeting was. It was in a small building, and a small room in the garage area. It was big enough to hold the drivers and their respective crew chiefs, so it wasn't a big deal. Skip would accompany Kevin to the meeting, naturally.
They sat down pretty close to the podium. The room was mostly empty. It wasn't quite time for the meeting to start yet. Some drivers had a habit of showing up late at Sprint Cup races, so it didn't matter to Kevin. He even showed up late a few times himself. The room eventually began to fill up as time went by. A driver Kevin couldn't recognize sat down to his left. Skip was on his right.
Although it had been killed earlier by the Disney event, Kevin had started to become nervous again. All these big-named drivers and the close proximity to the drop of the green flag were not a good mix. That typical nervous feeling was in the pit of his stomach. He tried to calm down, but he'd have to wait for that.
Eventually the room was filled and the director of the Super Formula series, John Brown, an Australian, took the podium. "Good morning," he said. "I would like to welcome all of you to the first race of the year. I'd like to go over a few things for the race." The TV monitor changed to an animation of a car. "Today's race is 45 laps, 361 kilometers." Kevin thought it was 60 laps. "The track is 8.04 kilometers. We don't have many rule changes at the moment; you all learned them before the start of the season.
"Pit lane rules are relatively simple today. On green-flag laps, pit lane will remain open. If there is a full-course caution, you will need to wait for the signal to come on pit road. If the pit road light is red, then pit road is closed. If the lights are green, then you may enter pit road. Pit lane speeds are 88 km/h. If you go any faster, you will be penalized."
Brown went over a few other rules for the race. They were mostly rules Kevin already knew, like which acts can get a driver black-flagged. The flags were different, though, and he had to pay attention during that time. But then, they got to something he wasn't expecting. Well, besides the double-file restarts, that is. "This year, we've introduced a new rule; we will allow you to vote on whether you want a standing or rolling start.
"We will decide on a count of hands. All those in favor of a rolling start, raise your hands." Kevin was among the 10 drivers who raise their hands. He could only assume the rest would vote for a standing start. "All in favor of a standing start," the rest of the drivers raised their hands. Standing start it is, then."
The meeting was adjourned a few minutes later. They had gone over the rules for the standing start, and now it was just a matter of time before the start of the race.
If you think Kevin would have a cup of coffee before the race, forget it. Decaf, maybe, but caffeine right before a race is a bad idea. Instead, he had water; lots of it, along with some protein and carbs. He'd had whole grain pancakes for breakfast. Nutrition is vital to be a successful race car driver, just like it's vital for any athlete, so not much has changed since the 2010s.
After lunch, he did a few more rituals, including meditation to calm himself down. Once that was done, he dressed in his race suit. Looking over himself, he nodded. This was his time.
The fans had begun to file into their seats, the canopies above the grandstands providing shade from the hard Bahraini sun. It was a jovial and excited atmosphere. This was the first race of the season. A feeling of excitement always manifested at the start of the season. It's natural!
Kevin was driven to the paddock by a staffer. He was quiet. He was focusing. He was going to be ready, even if he was nervous. However, he knew the crew would keep him calm in their own particular way. The team was like family. That's obvious. He knew they would not let him get too distracted.
Kaevin strolled into the paddock where the GTX5 was being held. The crew was still working on the finishing touches to the car. Their last-minute adjustments might prove vital to success in the race. Skip noticed him and came over to him. "We have to take a recon lap thirty minutes before the start," he said. "Do you want to do it?"
"Don't we have drivers' introductions?" Kevin replied.
"At thirty minutes before the start," said Skip. "So I take it you don't want to?"
"No," said Kevin.
"Alright," said Skip. "We'll have our test driver do it. By the way, you're starting next to Felipe Augusto of Scuerida Toro Rosso."
"They're a Red Bull team, aren't they?"
"Bueno." Kevin looked at the car. "I guess I should get my race suit on."
"It's in the bag over there," said Skip. Kevin took the bag and left to put the suit on. A few minutes later, he came out wearing the suit. Racing suits were made out of the same material that racing suits are made of today. It's just that they were made to be cooler (as in keep the driver cool) and lighter. But, because of the speeds, they were pretty much G-suits. Those high speeds can take a toll on the body.
Sitting down on the toolbox, Kevin watched his team make the necessary adjustments. A quick look outside revealed the growing crowds in the stands. Kevin didn't get nervous. He was used to big crowds at Daytona, Bristol, Talladega, Indy, Sonoma, Fontana, etc, etc, etc. You get the idea. The track itself was clear at the moment. Once the cars were out on the track, that's when things would get crowded. Kevin actually felt pretty relaxed at the moment. Sure, it was a good amount of time before the race, but it didn't matter. And because of the incidents earlier in the week, he couldn't venture away from the team's garage. Party poopers.
The team was almost done with the adjustments/Soon the car would be ready. Now Kevin was starting to get excited. Race time usually did that to him, especially in his rookie Daytona 500. That was a wild one. He nearly crashed twice in the first 50 laps. He managed to finish 20th a few laps down. His second Daytona 500 had a slightly better result, first or something like that.
Finally, the car was ready. The crew took it out to the pit lane to get it ready for its recon lap. There was 40 minutes left until the race. The pit lane was filled with cars ready to go. Soon the air would be filled with the roar of the engines. Kevin smiled to himself. This is what he was meant to do. This was his life. And he would take the opportunity by the b**** and never let go.
Meanwhile, Erin was waiting at the hotel for the car that would take her to the track and the VIP tower. She would watch the race from there. She dressed as respectable as she could. She would be in the presence of the other VIPs, after all. Holding her Tab, she looked for the car. The driver was late. Unlike Kevin, there was no nervousness or excitement brewing in her. This was strictly a business venture.
The car pulled up and the bellhop opened the door. It was a nice stretch limo. She nodded her head in and impressive look. She got in and the bellhop closed the door. "Good afternoon Miss Disney," said the driver.
"Good afternoon," said Erin. The driver drove off, taking her to the VIP tower. He did not take a well-known route. It was an out-of the way route to avoid the crowds. Even in the future executives look down on the common man. It didn't take too long for the driver to reach the VIP tower, right near the old Turn 1.
"This is it," said the driver.
"Thank you," said Erin. An assistant opened the door for her and she stepped out. She nodded to him in appreciation. She would walk the rest of the way.
Once inside the tower she was escorted to the suite she would watch the race from. It was high up enough to view the front straightaway. The assistant ushered her into the suite and the seats she would be sitting in. The service looked good. There was a bar stocked with champagne and wine for the executives at the race. She was the first one there. The cars were on their recon lap and the drivers would be introduced soon. "Have a seat here, Miss."
"Thank you," she said, sitting down in the first row of the seats. They were good as it was already mentioned. The cars had already begun to line up on the starting grid and the drivers would be introduced in a matter of moments. Other executives would be arriving soon, as well.
"Buon pomeriggio, la signorina Disney," a male voice said next to her. She sighed as Fabio Boiocchi sat down next to her. "These are good seats, yes?"
"Yes," she replied.
"Are they better than in your silly league?"
"Sort of," she replied. "But I'm not in the mood for trivial smack talk."
"Why use slang?" Boiocchi asked. "But I would like to wish you luck." He held out his hand for Erin to shake. She took it and amicably shook his hand.
"Thank you," she said. "Good luck to you, too."
Kevin took a sip of water while waiting in the paddock. He was hanging out with Felipe Augusto, the 12th place driver from Brazil. Augusto was close to his age, and around the same build. He had an olive skin tone and some curly hair. He wore a dark blue racing suit, being the color of Scuderia Toro Rosso. "You nervous?" The Brazilian asked.
"Not exactly," said Kevin. "I've done this before. By the way, what do you think about Helio Barrichello?"
"He's an asshole," said Augusto. Kevin stifled a laugh.
"I thought all Brazilians would love him," Kevin quipped.
"If only we all had the same opinion," Augusto replied.
"Let me guess, you know him?"
"We met in Sao Paulo," said Augusto. "He looks nice to the cameras, but when they're off, it's a whole other story."
"Figures," said Kevin.
"I take it you met him already?"
"Yep," Kevin replied. The next two drivers were introduced, stepping over the pit wall onto the track. Kevin and Augusto would be up soon.
"Bumped into him, nearly got into a fight."
"He's pretty quick like that," said Augusto. "Are you ready for this?"
"Pretty much," said Kevin.
"This isn't NASCAR. We don't just turn left here." Kevin snickered. Augusto assumed he thought it was funny.
"That joke died in the '70s," said Kevin. The next two drivers were then introduced. Kevin and Augusto were next.
"And now, the sixth row!" The PA announcer boomed. He sounded English, "Starting in 12th place, driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso, driving the #8 car, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Augusto!" Augusto walked up and waved to the crowd. Kevin put on his sunglasses and got ready to go. "Starting in eleventh place, driving for Disney-Ford Racing, driving the #5, from Chicago, United States, Kevin Reilly!"
"It's Chicago, Illinois, dumbass," Kevin muttered as he stepped over the pit wall while still waving and smiling at the crowd. They gave him a modest applause, most likely since they didn't recognize him.
When all the drivers were introduced, they were shepherded to a part of the race course where they would take a photo. Kevin stood in the back row. Once that was done, the drivers returned to their cars. They didn't enter them yet. That was for later. First, they had to hear the Bahraini national anthem.
The front stretch was buzzing. The crews looked over their cars and some pit girls stood there looking glamorous holding up placards with the drivers' name on it. Kevin snuck a look at his pit girl before Reggie pulled him away. "Oh, but she looks nice!" He said.
"No distractions," said Reggie. Kevin soured up. "Now stand up straight, they're about to play the anthem."
"Ladies and gentlemen, would you please be upstanding as the Manama Singers perform the national anthem of Bahrain." Out of habit, Kevin removed his hat. He stood and listened while the choir performed. He didn't think anything. He wanted to be respectful. When the song was done, he applauded and got ready to go.
He and the crew got in a huddle where Reggie offered a few words of encouragement. "This is just another race! Don't get nervous! Get pumped! We've raced in bigger races; don't let it get to you! Ninety minutes, that's all we need! Now let's get out there and kick some ass! Disney on three. One, two, three!"
"Dis-ney!" They broke the huddle and Kevin went to the GTX5. He climbed in and got comfortable.
"Activate AI," he said. The AI came to life and he put on his HANS device. Reggie then handed him the fire hood and his Bears helmet.
"Stay calm," Reggie said to him. "Just remember, this is a normal race. Approach this like you always have."
"Got it," Kevin said as he put his ear buds in. Reggie tapped his shoulder and withdrew from the car.
Kevin let out a deep sigh. The knot in his stomach was tightening. He pulled on his gloves and fastened them to the suit. He pulled the firehood over his head. Then he pulled his helmet on. A crewmember attached the hose to the top of the helmet. Kevin nodded and attached his helmet to the HANS device. Then he fastened his seatbelt.
He took another deep breath. He always did this right before the start of a race. It kept his nerves calm. "You okay, buddy?" Skip asked over the radio."
"I'm good," he replied. He kept on with the deep breaths. Concentrate. Don't get nervous. This is just another race. But the knot in his stomach was still tight. He waited. He hated waiting. It just made things worse.
Outside, Anwar al-Baradei was waiting for the signal. If you don't know what it is, you're about to find out. "And now ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the start/finish line. Here to give the command, Anwar al-Baradei!" Al-Baradei raised his hand and waved while the crowd cheered. Then he raised the microphone to his face.
"Gentelmen; start your ENGINES!!"
"Start 'er up!" Skip said. And Kevin started the GTX5 up. Outside, the main straightaway was filled with the sound of engines starting. The roar swept through the canyon-like area and created an echo. The crews began to scramble to leave. The Disney crew itself left the front stretch while the officials got everything ready.
Then, the cars were given the signal to begin the parade lap. Kevin shifted gears and rolled off his starting spot to begin the parade lap. The cars took a single-file formation behind the safety car. He could not hear it, but the Bahraini crowd was cheering.
The cars went through the parade lap. The starting grid looked like this:
Row Pos Num Name Nationality Constructor/Team Car
26 3 Luca Capello ITA Scuderia Ferrari F225-2
25 24 Ravi Lalpekhula IND Force India VJ18
24 11 Alex Johnson CAN Mercedes MGP15
23 20 Khalil al-Hazmi BHR Sauber C45
22 1 Dave Rooney ENG McLaren MP-40
21 26 Claudio BRA Red Bull Racing X2025
20 23 Jose Torres ARG Force India VJ18
19 13 Gerd Schweinsteiger DEU BMW B12
18 22 John van Persie RSA Hispania SF125
17 19 Koji Himura JPN Sauber C45
16 14 Leo Johnson ENG AT&T Williams FW48
15 15 Henrik Johanssen SWE AT&T Williams FW48
14 6 Liu Hanchao CHN Shangsai SF SH-10
13 7 Ekber Ozan TUR Shangsai SF SH-10
12 8 Felipe Augusto BRA Scuderia Toro Rosso XSTR20
11 5 Kevin Reilly USA Disney-Ford GTX5
10 25 Andrei Dimitriov RUS Red Bull Racing X2025
9 9 Carlos Fernandez ESP Scuderia Toro Rosso XSTR20
8 18 Alex Hansen AUT Renualt R45
7 16 Joseph Rabin ISR Maccabi MA-5
6 21 Tom Monroe AUS Hispania SF125
5 17 Kim Dae-Hyun KOR Maccabi MA-5
4 2 Alexi Hämäläinen FIN McLaren MP-40
3 17 Sebastien Deschamps FRA Renault R45
2 12 Ingo Schmidt DEU Mercedes MP-40
1 4 Helio Barrichello BRA Scuderia Ferrari F-225
As the field passed by each stand, they were greeted by the cheers of the Bahraini crowd. Some of the cars swerved around. This was to break the tires in. Kevin was doing this, too. The car behind him, the XSTR20, also swerved around him. This Augusto guy though, looked pretty good. Hell, Dimitriov looked pretty good. The lap actually felt kind of long going slower than 200 MPH. He almost got a little impatient. But, this is one lap. He had to stay calm.
"How's the car, buddy?" Skip asked in the radio.
"Feels good," said Kevin. "You guys did a good job."
"Alright, I'll tell them that," Skip said with a laugh.
The cars came down the final side stretch. The knot in Kevin's stomach was tightening. He took deep breaths as much as he could. He hoped that once the race began and the adrenaline started flowing, that he would calm down.
Erin, however, was not as nervous. She just watched, sandwiched between Boiocchi and the head of AT&T Williams. The guy in charge of AT&T was nicer than Boiocchi. Boiocchi could be (or at least sound) nice, but Erin could tell there was something behind his words. "Have you ever seen a standing start before, Miss Disney?" Boiocchi asked.
"Yes," she replied. "I have been to Super Formula races before."
"Excellent," said Boiocchi. Then, Erin received a tap on her shoulder. BMW's racing director leaned in.
"Is he bothering you, fraulein?" He asked.
"No, he's not," she replied. The BMW exec nodded in understanding. Soon she could see the field approaching the start/finish line and the starting grid. The race was about to begin.
"Here they come!" Reggie said as he watched from the pit wall. The rest of the team was in the garage. Skip was glued to the monitors. There was tension among the crew. They had stuck together through thick and thin and now their biggest test was just ahead. Of course they'd be nervous. Reggie went over to the garage and did his best to calm the younger crewmembers down. The older guys were just as calm and collected as him. He clapped while the field came down the front stretch and take their positions.
Kevin maneuvered the GTX5 into position in 11th. He was directly behind Carlos Fernandez, Augusto's Toro Rosso teammate. He looked in his mirror to see the other drivers. Ekber Ozan, in his red-and-yellow colored SH-10, drove up in the slot behind him. He kept his foot on the brake pedal. He had to wait for the rest of the field to stop and once that happened, an official would wave the green flag. He couldn't see the lights, though, so Skip would help him.
"Take it easy buddy," said Skip. But Kevin's heart was pounding. That really wasn't helping very much. He flexed his grip on the wheel. The other cars must have been taking their sweet time to line up! Finally, he saw the official wave the green flag. This is it!
He could just barely see the light go on. Skip did kept track for him, though. "Five," Kevin kept his foot on the brake but moved his other foot onto the gas.
Erin leaned forward, watching the lamps light up. She raised her eyebrow. This should be interesting.
"Four," Why is this taking so long?! "Three," His heart was pounding. He took a deep breath. "Two," he kept breathing. He needed to stay calm. "One. They're all lit." Kevin pressed down on the gas pedal. He took a deep breath. It's time! "They're out! GOGOGOGOGO!!!"