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  1. #11
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    Feb 2012
    Adelaide, Australia
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    This is by far the longest entry in the Chronicles yet: 2000+ words (in contrast to approx. 13-1500 entries). But, in my view, it was worth it.

    Woflgang Van-Über

    There is without a doubt that Wolfgang Van-Über is right up there with the most influential personalities of AG racing as well as with the best pilots of all time. A much loved figure, Van-Über is quite famous for his purist stance to racing, even refusing to use weapons and insisted to race on skill alone. And even in retirement, he was still a familiar sight within the AG Leagues through his home-grown racing team, Van-Über Racing Developments. Van-Über is very much a true living legend of the sport.

    Van-Über’s beginnings were quite humble. Born in a blue-collar, racing fan family in Hamburg on 3 September 2107, Van-Über’s early passion was athletics. Van-Über was quite competitive, becoming a regular sight in numerous regional and national athletic competitions and events. This was a key reason* why he would adopt an anti-aggressive stance on AG racing later on:

    “…When I was sprinting, in my youth, there was no politics; no aids; nothing. It was just a group of young boys running to find out who was faster out of our own devices. With AG racing, if someone passes you, you wait for a particular corner or hold a weapon and use that to your advantage – you will get back ahead. In running, if you got passed you’ll give it your all to get back and if you can’t, that’s just the way it is: you win some, you lose some.”

    As Van-Über got older, his attention turned to AG racing, and eventually made his debut in the European Junior Championships in 2123. Although it can be noted that Van-Über used weapons as much as the other pilots, these Leagues were much less reliant on weapons to change the outcome of the race so eliminations in themselves were quite rare. This started to change when he started to associate himself with the main F7200 teams, namely FEISAR. Although quite eager to race with them, it was reported that Van-Über expressed some dissatisfaction with racing at this level and had complained about how much firepower he had to use to turn the race his way.

    As Van-Über admits, he threatened to walk away from the League on more than one occasion, but one thing was keeping him from doing that: his speed. In his time trials, Van-Über is one of the fastest pilots to ever have raced with FEISAR, and in turn tried to use his speed to his advantage. At times this worked, but he was still hindered from weapon hits.
    If there was a definitive moment where Van-Über announced and stuck with his anti-weapon belief, it was a Venom class race in 2130, as Wolfgang remembers it…

    “I was in second coming up behind an Auricom craft (fielded by a privateer team) towards the end of the race when my crew chief had told me to eliminate him quickly. The pilot of the Auricom craft hadn't run a perfect race (he was caught in a crash with a few other pilots), so his shields were quite low, but had decent speed to keep my craft at bay. I initially didn't want to do it because I thought I can catch him, but I was ordered by my team. So I eased off and eliminated him with a missile on the last lap (anti-climatic, I know). After the presentation ceremony, I immediately left feeling quite upset with my team and myself; not just for not having faith in myself but for not winning with my own skills…”

    His attitude towards racing in the F7200 changed dramatically midway through 2127 when his older brother, Klaus, got involved in a high-speed hovercar crash which left him with severe spinal injuries. Although with the advancements of medicine, Klaus was still able to walk but was permanently disabled. Klaus, like Wolfgang, had ambitions to race in the F7200, and was quickly approaching his zenith in the European Leagues. Wolfgang, taking up the mantle as the family racer, swore to race for his brother as well as himself and contributed a sizeable share of his winnings and sponsorship funds into Klaus’ ongoing treatment. Klaus never forgot his brother’s generosity.

    Van-Über made his official debut with FEISAR in 2131 alongside Johan Janson of Sweden and Canada’s Léa Guise and made a big impact. He constantly placed within the top 10 and scored a few points along the way. The most notable was the final race at Arridos IV, where he managed to score third behind Alisa Novosad and the late great Katsuogo Muro. Van-Über became hot property throughout the 2132 season with offers for quite a few teams, whilst continuing to score point-scoring finishes for his original team. Van-Über would sign a contract with Auricom at the end of the year.

    For Auricom, 2133 was to be one of the strongest years in years with Van-Über signing alongside their current lead pilot, American Aaron Hayden. Hayden, like Van-Über, had been a rapidly rising star-of-the-future, placing 5th in only his second year of competition. It was acknowledged that either pilot can successfully challenge for the title, but was more difficult for Van-Über because of his principles. This is reflected in the final points tally whereas Hayden had consistent high placed finishes, eventually finishing second, Van-Über was placed all over the top 10 from as high as third to as low as 9th.

    This was similar in 2134, although this time Van-Über only stood on the podium once when he should’ve been supporting his teammate’s assault on the dominating AG Systems. It was rumoured that Van-Über’s contract with Auricom would be cancelled if he did not produce good results for the next season, strongly suggesting to abandon his now infamous belief in, what was now called, the “purity of the race”.

    However, there were radical changes to the League in 2135. For one, the death of Muro dragged AG Systems’ morale down a lot, but the F7200 Race Commission (under administration from Overtel) had changed the calendar back to Mega City. With the generally more technical circuits was where Van-Über’s “handicap” didn’t appear. Motivated for a place on the team, Van-Über blitzed everyone with his performance, even more with his refusal to use weapons (unless absolutely necessary) and clean-swept the season; his nearest opponent was 49 points behind.

    2136 was a tough year for Van-Über and the Auricom team with a tough battle being played out between Van-Über and teammate Bobby Butler, Vincinius Albeniz (Piranha), Fyodor Eppirov (Qirex) and Laughlan Ivers (FEISAR). However, Auricom had a firm grip on the Teams’ championship (they were the only team with two point-scoring pilots) and Van-Über taking the last three races to take his second title.

    2137 was marred by a brawl between Icaras and Goteki 45 at P-Mar Project which lead to the suspension of both teams. As this was the last year of his original contract, Van-Über had originally decided to leave the sport using the P-Mar Brawl as the perfect opportunity to distance himself from the current state of the sport. As stated in his autobiography, it took a lot of convincing from newly installed Director of Operations Gideon Oldfield that made him change his mind from an early retirement, and signed a new three-year contract that he was allowed to exit anytime he wanted.

    It’s fortunate he re-signed, as he showed some of his best racing in those three years as he battled against “DJ” Jukka Rautio (who had signed with Piranha). Whilst just beaten to the 2138, he came back stronger in 2139 and battled hard with Rautio to achieve his fourth title before announcing his retirement from professional racing.

    Van-Über’s retirement stunned everyone. This was because that Van-Über was still quite young at 32 and was still at a strong point of his career with many years still ahead. His reasoning, when quizzed by the media, his family and Auricom themselves, is that:

    “…no team should continually have one pilot to take all the glory, and that another pilot should have a chance to shine in his place. And in turn, he would make sure that other young pilots had a chance to fly and be successful as I had been.”

    Leading up to his retirement from racing, Van-Über had developed an interest is the development of the craft, and was quite involved in the development of his Auricom craft during the last few years. When he retired, Van-Über wished to enter craft development and pass on his on-track experience into developing an ideal craft. FEISAR offered Van-Über a position on their team as a head designer, but Van-Über turned this down, insisting he wanted to do it alone. After experimenting with a few designs over the next few years, Van-Über formally established Van-Über Racing Developments in 2142 along with Klaus and a good friend of Van-Über, Ryan Morgan, with technical assistance from FEISAR.

    For the first 10 years, Van-Über saw considerable success in the European AG League, even managing to score back-to-back titles in 2149 and ’50. This success, as well as the announcement of the F9000, motivated them to push for entry into the AGRC. They were granted a full season entry in 2151, filling the position vacated by Assegai, and used this season as an experimental season, to observe the field that would be entering the F9000. Van-Über’s nephew, Sören, performed quite well managing two podiums (which is more that can be said for the other two pilots, who failed to score all season).

    Their first season in the F9000 wasn’t a good one, with the team finishing only one race in the whole season (Songen Grey’s 6th place at Temtesh Bay), but they gradually grew as the seasons progressed. The scored their first and only race win at Cubiss Float in 2157, and coming in 5th place in the 2158 and 2159. However, the durability of the craft plagued the team and they gradually fell to near bottom throughout the rest of the F9000.

    But despite this, Van-Über was quite popular due the charisma of Wolfgang and his belief in the “purity of the race”. In an interview in 2159, he famously quoted “…we must remain cleaner than clean… If all the clouds in the sky turn black, who can hope that the rain will ever cease?” In this period, he coined the term “the sublime and delicious game”, which has entered common use and has further influenced the name of the AG datasheet “Sublime and Delicious” and Van-Über’s own range of men’s toiletry products, S&D. Also, the appeal of one of his pilots, Nami Mishima, helped the image of the team, as she had often been compared to the late Arial Tetsuo, Auricoms’ lead pilot in the early years of AG racing. This has made her popular with young fans, but also the target of constant sabotage which has plagued her performance over the years.

    Due to the increasing political pressure from the F9000, Van-Über followed Auricom’s lead and withdrew from competition at the end of the 2169 season and returned to regional racing. However, the Fall of the F9000 a year later virtually halted all of Van-Über’s activities. Whilst they still continued performing R&D work and produced craft for public consumption, the team was rapidly declining. Wolfgang would liquidate his share of the company and retired to a quiet life in the German countryside.

    Van-Über was present at the AG Rebirth Festival in 2185 and express absolute delight when it was announced that AG racing was to return to prominence. However, he did show disappointment as he would not lead the charge to promote the “sublime and delicious game” in the new era of AG racing. His grandson, Helmut, would rebirth the team in the 2198 with his grandfather’s blessing to compete in the newly-formed FX300. Piloted by German-born American Daniel Albrecht and using a updated variant of their old F9000 model, the team enjoyed moderate success in this era culminating with Albrecht winning the title in 2202.

    The team did not transition into the FX400, mainly due to the health of its founder. Approaching his centennial birthday, Wolfgang had become quite reserved from the media particularly with his team’s victory in 2202. It appeared that Wolfgang had achieved his dream of “leading” a team to League success, so now he can spend the rest of his years in peace.

    At age 105, Van-Über is one of the oldest AG champions still alive today (only beaten by 2126 Champion Mélissa Flament), but his pacifist beliefs and his extraordinary career makes him a true legend of AG racing, up there with names such as Muro, Tetsuo and the great Kel Solaar.

    *There are other reasons behind Van-Über’s ideal, such as his Roman Catholic background and his admiration of primitive Formula One drivers as seen in old videos.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Woflgang Van-Über passed away peacefully in his Lower Saxony home on January 3 2214, beside family. His heath had deteriorated over the past few years, particularly over the past year, restricting him to the confounds of his home. A private burial was held on January 7th, followed by a public memorial the following day, which included numerous AG racing personalities, including the AGRC Chairwoman, Natasha Belmondo. Van-Über was 106.
    Last edited by keg_11; 13th January 2014 at 04:15 AM.

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