THE LAST AND THE FIRST - the story of the 2935 Daymar Rally
THE LAST AND THE FIRST
Let me tell you a story about a "race" -- and I use the term loosely -- thirteen years ago.
It's back a while, yes -- far enough back that some folks might remember, but if you go hunting for records you're not likely to find much about the 2935 Daymar Rally, other than the unusual fact that it's one of few races ever run, in any format, that ended up with no winner. The whole field, nineteen teams, forty-one vehicles, failed to finish.
I did mention, a while back, how racing has always been one of the dirtiest sports ever followed by a fanbase -- and the rules of any given racing style, from Murray Cup to Formula One to NASCAR -- are some of the most complex and meticulous you'll find in the sporting world. For the most part, this is to ensure that the real difference made in any given race is by the driver, not by the craft he's at the controls of -- preserve the "spirit of racing", the purity of the competition, and all that. Because let me tell you, when other agendas get in the way, things get messy, and they get that way fast.
Back in the 2932 Rally, fans might remember, there was a big hubbub when Julian Goddard won at the wheel of Ars Celeritas' Halcyon II prototype. Plenty of folks were up in arms that Goddard should be stripped of the trophy, because of the Halcyon II's Strip Charger -- a fancy little peice of technology that the team hadn't said was on the buggy, but wasn't illegal by the rules as they were written. Turbos and superchargers weren't something really seen on Daymar Rally vehicles, after all - not just because internal combustion was a thing of the past, but because the oxygen-poor atmosphere of the moon made the engines, and the systems used to boost their power, perform at a level we'll just call "sub-par". As a result, there weren't any rules governing internal combusion on the rally's books, which Ars Celeritas took advantage of - to make a long story short, the idea behind the Strip Charger was the chemical separation of elements in the oxides present in Daymar's dust, which would then be fed into an internal combustion system that enhanced the strength of the electromagnets that drove Halcyon II's wheels. The presence of this retrograde technology endeared Ars Celeritas to a lot of folks, as their entrant was the first buggy to roar like the racers of old in maybe 50 years -- and it angered a lot more, because it was seen as the deciding factor in Halcyon II's victory, by a Daymar-Rally record amount: Halcyon II finished half an hour ahead of any competitor in the field, and beat the previous record for the course by 8 minutes.
The next year, everyone expected Strip Chargers to be either outlawed on buggies, or present on far more of them. Somehow, though, the Rally Commission hadn't gotten around to a decision on the technology by race day, and Redmond ExoPoly, the sponsor of Ars Celeritas and the creators of the charger, had done a fine job of protecting their secret. Informally, a group of "rival" racing teams (including Clockwork Innovations, MANTIS Racing, Ho-Gyun, Golden Arrow, and Suchiru Tekoku) took it upon themselves to even the playing field in a way that the commission hadn't. At the cost of a few 'DNF' results for teams that weren't contenders in the first place, Halcyon II was knocked out of the competition. The spectacular finish between Alison Cambrai and Robert Reese overshadowed the conspiracy -- some say that was part of the whole thing, and that Clockwork and MANTIS agreed to the 1-2 finish to take out their main competitor.
By 2934, the writing was already on the wall for those who could see it. The scandal of the previous race had gone public, as had the evidence that the Strip Charger was a bust - it was proven that it coudln't provide enough oxygen to boost motor power by even a fraction of a percent. Redmond ExoPoly was a laughingstock, and chose to exact their revenge on the race course. They sponsored an unprecedented FIVE teams that year, Ars Celeritas included, but their stated goal wasn't victory, but to ensure that Clockwork and MANTIS didn't win either. All three teams, plus the other four fielded by Redmond, went DNF in one of the most egregious live-fire exchanges in the history of rally racing. Three other teams were caught in the crossfire of the brawl, despite not being connected to either side of the fracas.
So, the stage was set for 2935 and the Race With No Winner. By this point the field was an absolute mess, as those teams that were staying in had mostly opted for armor plating and extra weaponry, with very little focus on the offroad or high-speed elements of the rally at all. The rival blocs were all there - Ars Celeritas on one side, Clockwork on another, and MANTIS Racing going it alone after fallout connected to the finish of the 2933 race. Anyone else that had been a legitimate contender in the overland Rally scene, even as recent as 4 years earlier, had dropped out. They, and their sponsors, wanted nothing to do with the whole ugly mess.
It went as well as you would expect. Protected gun mounts lasted longer than engines and tires. Any given support ship was pushed away by a hail of fire from the rest of the bogged-down field among the rocks just past Eager Flats. Nine drivers were injured by gunfire, and four more in crashes. When it became clear that no team would allow any other to get moving again, the Rally Commission was forced to call the race to a halt.
In the aftermath of the 2935 race, one corporate sponsor after another washed their hands of the Daymar Rally. News companies were happy to comply with defamation lawsuits that prevented them from publishing information about race involvement, to the point where the whole affair became something of a taboo. A few years later, it was revealed that Redmond ExoPoly and the sponsor of MANTIS Racing, Advanced Power Dynamics, were both subsidiaries of TCN Industries - a heavy manufacturing firm targeted by Shubin Interstellar for hostile takeover in 2929. That sparked a wave of wild theories as to whether the whole thing had been a desperate attempt to stain the Rally host's reputation and cost it resources needed for corporate warfare. Nevertheless, TCN ceased to exist as a corporate entity in 2941, and most of its holdings ended up in Shubin's hands.
The 2935 Daymar Rally had no winner, but it sure had a long list of losers. Neither Ars Celeritas nor MANTIS have recovered enough reputation to find new sponsors in the Racing World, without TCN's hand in things behind the scenes. Redmond ExoPoly's high-profile failure with the Strip Charger led to it closing up shop as well. Let's not even mention that the original Daymar Rally Commission faced court charges in connection to both the corporate espionage involved, as well as the allegations of race-fixing that surfaced in 2933 and 2934. Fans of the Rally and racing as a whole lost out on more than a decade of what could have been true, spirited racing, thanks to poor management and agendas that focused on ensuring that someone lost, rather than that someone won. And let's not forget Julian Goddard. His record-breaking finish time was stricken from the books only eight months after he achieved it. In the chaos and confusion of the Rally's death throes, the facts that the Strip Charger was a failure -- and thus that his record was legitimate -- were never revisited. After the contraversey, Julian Goddard never raced again. He died at his home in Indianapolis in June of last year -- not a champion, not a record-holder, not even an asterisk next to his name.
I'll see you out there,
*Image by Mr_Hasgaha