Photos by Garth Goode
As readers of this publication may already know, Baron Wulfenbach and his associate Mr. Verne have recently assumed stewardship of the Cavorite Mines and are holding them in trust for the people of Caledon. A number of fund-raising events are being planned in order to help defray the considerable expense they have assumed in doing this. The second of these was The Cavorite Cup speeder race, which was held November 20 and 21 at the Iron Cloud Airstation in Caledon Middlesea.
The race was run in three heats. In the first heat, Darlingmonster Ember defeated Searra Weatherwax and Roy Smashcan in Race one. Tehanu Marenwolf was victorious against Lucien Brentano and RockAndRoll Michigan in race 2. Rachire Andel made short work of Vivito Volare and Autopilotpatty Poppy in Race three. Miss Ember, Miss Marenwolf and Capt. Andel competed in the Heat 1 Semifinals, with Capt. Andel winning and going on to the Finals.In the second heat there were more racers. Aevalle Galicia, Fogwoman Gray, and Zsophia Innovia battled in the first race, and Miss Galacia triumphed. Garth Goode was victorious against myself and Elenabeth Portal in race 2. Vorwoda Hawksby and Drake Coalcliff were beaten by Tiziana Corleone in Race 3. Race 4 was only Jayleden Miles and Sir Wrath Constantine, as we had run out of racers. Sir Wrath beat Mr. Miles, just barely. The second heat semifinals pitted Miss Galacia against Mr. Goode, Sir Wrath against Miss Corleone.
The deciding race of the Heat 2 Semifinals was between Mr. Goode and Sir Wrath. As they are both expert racers it was an extremely fast race. Mr. Goode was in the lead when he suddenly lost control and crashed into the large fuel tanks in the center of the track, sending up a huge fireball. Fortunately he was able to extricate himself and rejoin the race, but by that time Sir Wrath had assumed the lead, and he went on to win the heat.
The Final Heat was held on Saturday. Capt. Andel and Sir Wrath raced three ten-lap races. Capt. Andel won the first, Sir Wrath the second. After a very close race, Capt. Andel won the third lap, taking home the Cavorite cup.
Later that evening, I asked Sir Wrath what had led him to build such a fine facility and host a major racing event. He replied:
"Originally I just set out to build a fun speeder vehicle, then Jayleden Miles approached me with the idea of having a racing event to raise funds for the Mines. I liked the idea, and created a trophy that Jay liked very much.
"As the speeders got closer to being finished, we were testing them in the streets of Caledon. That turned out to be a disaster, since the speeders could travel faster than the sims could rez, so the idea formed to contain the race to a single sim. Middlesea was the obvious choice since the Iron Cloud had enough deck area to build the track. And of course, being in Middlesea, it had to have the "bewm." It's become somewhat of a trademark for us. [Those not familiar with a Middlesea accent may wish to read "bewm" as "boom."]
"I wanted the track to be challenging, but not impossible. However, the speeders were so quick that no matter how open and easy I made the turns, it was still a challenge to keep the speeder on-course without losing time. Coming around a turn to find oneself nose-to-nose with a fireball was an 'OhSnap!' moment. You had to think quickly, choose your line, and thrust through. Sometimes you could actually knock the fireball into someone else, effectively scraping them off your tail. And the fuel tanks! Gah, I learned to despise those things, as much as I wanted them there. They were entertaining, but if you hit one, well, you know how that ends.
"Once I was satisfied that the track was sufficient and the speeders were ready, it occurred to me that an event would need spectators. I pondered how to accommodate them, since Middlesea could only hold 20 avatars. I had worked with off-sim islands before, and I decided to build stadium ships that would overhang the track, but be rooted from adjacent sims. Using these, we would be able to accommodate over 100 avatars in a 20-avatar sim. And of course, these 'StadiumShips' as they came to be called, needed to look the part, with Vernian-inspired texturing, cavorite-supported mechanism and a distinct Caledon flavor in their design.
"I've actually had a few inquiries for these ships now, and they will be made available for other events since they worked so well. Also, I've had so much fun on this track that what was once just a temporary setup is now going to stay. I'll just phantom it and make it transparent when not in use."
At this point, several other people who had been standing nearby began telling me about their race experiences. Duchess Aevalle Galicia spoke up: "It was so entertaining to watch the final heats from the stands! Fogwoman Gray makes a gorgeous hood ornament, in case anyone wondered."
Mr. Lucien Brentano tapped me on the shoulder. "Let me just say... I am 1318 days old. The Cavorite Cup was the most fun I've had in SL, ever."
Miss Darlingmonster Ember smiled and looked as if she were savoring sweet memories. "I am (mumble) days old and have traveled many dimensions...The Cavorite Cup race was the most fun I've ever had in SecondLife in a vehicle."
She continued: "I must admit that while I design airships and love them dearly for many reasons (not the least of which is the symbol of freedom), I am not a good pilot. I may not be the most feeble pilot in the Steamlands, but I am really not good.
"So when the Cavorite Cup races were announced, I nodded, I cheered, I lined up to pay for a Speeder, but I did not expect to race. It was a charity, it was a good cause, what more did I need to do but step up and contribute? In Caledon, we are blessed by community creative energy.
"But once I saw the track! Once I wrapped my thoughts around the effort and fun involved in those textures and stands and scripts.
"I had to try it. Even if I was laughed right off the course, I would race. For certain, I knew that the course designers would be flying. They probably had spent many sleepless night already flying and honing that course. The number of hours involved boggles.
"So I signed up, very late and got a place.
"Testing the track.. a bit before the race... was a disaster. The turns were so tight, the speeder leaped forward like a predator. Bouncing off the walls was nerve wracking. And then you burst into flames.
"Yes! These speeders were scripted to spark while dragging along the walls... and once banged about too much, would burst into flames. Flames that spread and whooshed around you from the rear of the vehicle. My camera was back there...so during practice (thankfully) I discovered that once on fire...I was driving blind.
"Blind. Flames and no sign of the track. My camera awash in glow and fire. It was very scary. And the most important part, the very core of excitement and emotion is this: the spirit of Caledon came through. It was through other Steamland drivers present that I was given a few pointers about driving the Speeder in mouselook and keeping a sense of the track through these many thresholds of challenge.
"And I won my heat. And then got to test my modest skills with Capt. Rachire Andel, the very pilot fated to win the Cup this year. I shall remember the entire wonderful experience for a long time."
I bid farewell to the racers and went home to write up my notes. As I sat at my desk working, there was a tapping at my window. I opened it, and was astonished to find an aetherial presence there, one with a definite blue glow. I realized I was being visited by the Late Fogwoman Gray-Volare. She began to speak:
"I signed up to race in the Cavorite cup with no hope of winning. I am a notorious menace to pedestrians everywhere, as well as those in the air and the water. But this was for a great cause, and potential for havok and mayhem was so tempting I could not refuse.
"Sure enough, after bouncing around the track, menacing the other racers, the spectators and innocent bystanders in nearby sims, I managed to die in a blaze of glory, taking out a fuel tank and igniting the speeder to boot.
"Just in time too, as the spinning about was making me a bit queasy :) It was a wonderful time, and supported our wonderful Cavorite Mines! Next time I shall just bring my wallet and some incendiaries."
She departed, and I closed the window. This had definitely been a race to remember.
The organizers of the Cavorite Cup have asked me to thank all the donors who graciously give their lindens to support the Cavorite Mines. The Caledon Moors would be less mysterious without them. We are grateful to Nicolas Verne and KlausWulfenbach Outlander for stewarding the mines so steadfastly and readily and to Jayleden Miles for organizing and maintaining the mine events. We are also very grateful to Kamilah Hauptmann for scripting, testing, scripting, testing, and rescripting the checkpoint system, and to the courageous test pilots who braved these racers to test their flight capabilities: Liandra Gothly, Tiziana Corleone, Ceidru Gothly, Aevalle Galicia, Rachire Andel, Magdalena Kamenev, Fogwoman Gray, and Vivito Volare.
Additional thanks go to Governor Desmond Shang for having the vision to make Caledon into what it is and giving permission to lag up the country of Caledon during the races, Professors Horg Neurocam and Davan Camus for creating the Cavorite Mines, the Caledon Research Institute headed by Valentine Janus for their efforts in preserving the Caledon Mines and keeping a part of the Caledon History alive and pixeled.
Particular thanks are due to Sir Wrath Constantine for hosting the 2009 Cavorite Cup; planning, plotting and structuring the races; building, testing, and donating the racers; creating the trophy and donating the grand prize of a top speed racer.