Part one of a multi-part series on the spectacular F9000...

The Story of the F9000
Part 1 - Wings of Wax

Depending to your point-of-view, the F9000 can be viewed as the golden era of AG racing, or the time where the sport betrayed itself due to the corrupted antics of the Overtel Corporation. Either way, the spectacle and popularity of the sport rose to levels it has ever seen before or since. And despite its egotistical display, it did pioneer certain aspects of AG racing that are still around today, particularly ship safety. In this multi part story, we will see how this golden age rose from one corporation’s determination to own the series and steer it to extravagant heights, and how it was all torn down at once and reborn anew.

On his 100th birthday, Pierre Belmondo announced his retirement from the Executive Chairman role in the F5000 AG Race Commission after serving 20 years in the role. Almost immediately, the question was raised as to who will succeed Belmondo, as he was the last of the original pioneers of the sport still associated with it. Of course, there was the issue about media influence over the position, as it had been since the Leagues began over half a century before.

Belmondo knew this, and as such announced the formation of the Belmondo Foundation on that same day. The goals of the Foundation were to preserve his ideals, the ideals of the other pioneers of AG technology and to make sure AG technology (and sport) was accessible to everyone, no matter who you are. So, in a way, it was a “purist’s union” to stand up to what the League originally stood for and, hopefully, not allow it to change into a cash machine if it fell into corporate hands.

As such, the level of authority in the AG Race Commission was split between the Foundation and the Anti-Gravity Federation (AGF), with the role of Executive Director being undertaken by former Qirex pilot Stefan Geist. After retiring from AG racing, Geist immediately got involved in the Race Commission in an effort to change the current form of the F5000, of which he did not like. As such, he was in charge of the investigations into the new Phantom speed class in relation to pilot safety, which eventually led to the suspension of the class until the F7200.

The new Commission’s first major test was the transition of the F5000 to F7200, announced in 2113. Having stabilized the politics of the AGRC following Belmondo’s retirement, the Commission used this as an opportunity to implement a variety of ideas they wanted to put in AG racing, in particular the invite of non-League countries competing (namely Assegai from Africa). This was met with critical acclaim and at the time, it was deemed that the 2116 F7200 League was the best League ever. That title was won by Finnish pilot Laura Kohlemainen, flying for Qirex.

For the next ten years, the F7200 and the Belmondo Foundation experienced little problems as the League settled into its new regulations. However, the death of Belmondo in 2127 surprisingly caused a lot of problems for the Commission, particularly for a relatively minor event. Overtel Corporation, who perennially eyed complete control over the League, immediately campaigned their influence over the Commission by proposing they control the allocation of the media and dignitaries during League races (by this point, they had pretty much monopolized the Leagues media rights). This was quickly dismissed by the Commission, but Overtel continued to pressure the Foundation to concede control.

Eventually, F7200 Executive Director Roger Bowen announced that the Commission would directly manage the distribution of the sport’s media rights. A Chief Promotions Officer (CPO) position was created, where they will liaise with Overtel about the commercial aspects of the sport. Initially there to police Overtel, it became apparent that this official became a go-to between Overtel and the Commission with their plans for what to do with the League. Meanwhile, more and more executives were swaying towards Overtel’s way of thinking as the best way for the sport to move forwards, over the Foundation’s fundamentalist approach.

In 2132, now with an overwhelming influence over the Commission, Bowen resigned as Executive Director of the F7200 Commission and retired in peace, with his old position taken up by Orson Liddell, formerly the CEO of Overtel. Liddell had grown up with both the AGRC and the makeup of Overtel, being part of the Irving-Liddell family that has owned Overtel since Rhys Irving founded the company in the 2030s. But whereas his ancestors saw the AGRC as purely a business interest, Orson had a genuine interest in the sport. Immediately, he pushed several changes to the F7200 that would be most beneficial for both fans and the sport’s corporate partners. One of these changes was the return of the original Mega City calendar over the now-famous Classic Leagues. He also encouraged the development of the ships as to enforce its link to the consumers. But he did show some restraint in certain aspects of the sport. In the wake of the 2137 P-Mar Brawl, he withheld footage of the brawl itself and personally managed the resultant trials between Goteki 45 and Icaras, preferring to focus on the regular season.

Liddell controlled the Commission quite well until he retired in 2144, where he was succeeded by his son, Barret. Barret was like his father in many ways, but was much more extravagant. Under the control of his father, the spectacle of the F7200 had rose at a steady rate despite some twists along the way. But Barret had grand plans of his own. At the start of the tenure, the F7200 were having some problems partly due to Russia’s economic depression and eventual coup in 2149, as well as the financial issues with several teams. But Barret made sure that these issues did not affect the sport at all, even ignoring calls for the Commission to help keep Qirex competing in the midst of Russia’s change of governance.

His defining moment came in 2150, where he announced the League’s upgrade to F9000 specification. His changes proved to be the most radical the sport had ever seen, with a particular influence of aggression over clean racing. Upon the announcement, there was a lot of backlash from the community, which even included his father. Barret brushed this off as simply fear of the unknown and pushed forward with his plans. It is unknown how much money was spent on the project, but it was reported that it went into the trillions, to cover the costs of weapon contracts, sponsorship deals and track construction.

A major aspect of the F9000’s planning was the public selection of venues as locations for the new League. A total of 32 finalists were selected that spanned to all corners of the globe, even including several intergalactic locations as well. After an 8 month campaign, 8 locations were selected based on the spectacle value and commercial viability of the plans, with little regard of safety. Especially, one of these tracks was located on the relatively unknown planet of Devilia. These particular locations saw stiff competition from the AGF, where they saw it as a “step too far” for a legitimate racing series. Overtel did state there will be no racing on it, but was later confirmed the location would serve as a testing venue for use by all teams where they saw fit. As a result of this, the AGF announced it had retracted their support of the series, but stayed involved to moderate the League.

As everything got ready for the inaugural F9000 AG Racing League in 2156, Barret heroically proclaimed that this would be the greatest era in the history of the sport. But through this extravagance was at the cost of the traditional AG community, where many old personalities distanced themselves from the sport. Most notably was this comment from 4-time champion Kurt Graham: “Liddell has made himself a pair of wings stuck together with the wax of his own arrogance. Knowing the story as we do, sooner or later, he going to fall straight back to Earth.”

Graham’s words could not be truer…