Dubai, the United Arab Emirates
Two days later, Black found himself hurtling through the deserts of the Middle East behind the wheel of a Mercedes W212, courtesy of Ridwan Amirmoez. It had been waiting for him when he landed in Abu Dhabi, complete with a driver – a lanky older man named Mansur – but he had insisted on driving the large car. It was a hundred and fifty kilometres to Dubai, and even with an open throttle, the trip would take over an hour. Where Mansur was originally uncomfortable with the thought of Black driving his beloved car, he had gradually relaxed. Especially when Black engaged him in conversation.
“So, tell me,” he said almost as soon as they hit the highway. “What is Ridwan Amirmoez like?”
“He’s a good man,” Mansur said stiffly. “He’s the fourth son in a family of seven. Very well-respected here, but not widely-known in America and England. He likes it that way. He made his money first in importing tobacco, but changed to construction when he was uncomfortable with ‘the health side of things’ as he calls it.”
Black grinned. “I’m not looking for his life story, Mansur. I’m more … I’m wondering what he’s like as a person. How you feel about working. What he beleives in. What drives him to do the things he does.”
“He is very good to work for, but he can be … difficult, is the word.”
“Difficult? How so?” Black asked, taking advantage on an overtaking lane to leapfrog slower traffic.
“He is a very intelligent man. Very focused. But once he gets an idea into his head, it is almost impossible to convince him otherwise.”
“Well, that’s good, I suppose. I admit I was a little worried that this project of his was a playboy thing. You know, he fancies himself a racer and entertains the idea by throwing money at it. But if he’s as committed as you say he is, that can only be a good thing. What else?”
“I think he is a little self-conscious that he is Emirati,” Mansur said, referring to the name for people from the Emirates. “A lot of the younger generations are. He will not try to hide his background, but the young people believe that Westerners feel Dubai is a hollow city, little more than an expensive combination of Disneyland and Las Vegas and utterly vulgar.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t know any jokes about Dubai, if tht’s what he’s worried about.”
“He also has very high expectations of others,” Mansur said, starting to loosen up. “I know he holds those same expectations of himself. If the job isn’t done properly, then he’d much rather it wasn’t done at all. It comes from his father. Perhaps you’ve heard of him – Sulayman Amirmoez?”
“I can’t say as if I have,” Black admitted.
“He went to the Los Angeles Olympic Games. 1984.”
“What discipline?” Black asked, genuinely curious.
“Archery. He was seeded, but eliminated in the quarter-finals. I think that is the thing Mr. Amirmoez – Ridwan, that is – is most proud of. I have not known him long, but I do know that his father encouraged competition among his children. Not the vicious kind, of course, but Ridwan has a saying he likes to quote: ‘to dare to find out how good one really is is one of the bravest things a man can do’. He actually tried to qualify for the Sydney Olympics himself, but he was not selected. I don’t think he knows it, but privately, his father is prouder that Ridwan was willing to try than he is of having gone to the Olympics himself.”
“I can’t say I disagree with any of that. Which way do I turn?”
“Left here, then right and right again,” Mansur instructed, now lounging in the back seat of the Mercedes as if Black had been his chauffeur all his life. Black could not help but grin. With Mansur’s help, he neogitated the streets of Dubai until they arrived at what appeared to be a completely nondescript building. Ironically, this only made it stand out among the fantastic shapes of the cityscape. Black climbed out of the car and was instantly hit by a wave of desert heat. Mansur barely even noticed it, swapping the back seat for the front and driving away without another word, leaving Black to approach the building on his own.
It was a large, squat building, just three stories high but appearing smaller because of its girth. Its walls were complete bare, with not even a widnow in sight. The only decoration was a crest set into a low wall alongside the entry – the symbol of the city university. From the looks of things, this had once been a part of the university campus, but the complete lack of people in the middle of a Tuesday morning suggested the university had long since left. Black opened the wide glass doors and stepped in, eager to get out of the heat. If Amirmoez intended this to be their base of operations, he would have to get used to the heat – he was going to be staying here for a while. He was surprised at just how readily that thought came to him.
“Wesley!” a familiar voice called, echoing through the empty hall. Ridwan Amirmoez appeared almost as he silently as he had in London. He darted forward with an easy smile and a hand out-stretched. “You don’t mind if I call you Wesley, do you? Forgive me for assuming your intentions, but you came after all.”
“It’a okay. You can call me Wesley, if you like, though I prefer Wes.”
“Wes it is, then. Which would make me Ridwan. Do you like it?” he asked indicating the building. “I told you we were starting from scratch.”
“I do. We’re going to need something closer to Europe, though. England, if we can.”
“It’s all part of the plan, my friend. But for now, we will set ourselves up here. I don’t want the rest of the world knowing about us just yet. I want a full team to be ready when it comes time to annouce ourselves to the world.”
“I like your plan,” Black grinned. “So, we have a building. And soon, we will have cars. What did you have in mind next?”
“May I be completely honest with you?”
“I have no idea. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted you to join me, Wes. We need some direction.”
“Well, the first thing we’re going to need is drivers. It’s been said that the best driver in the world is a woodcutter in Siberia, but he doesn’t know it, and the world never will. So we’ll have to settle for some established talent. There’s a GP2 race coming up this weekend in Bahrain. I thought we might take a look at some early talent, maybe see if we can find someone we can work with for the next year.”
“That’s fine by me.”
“I was also wodnering if you had time to settle on a name for the team. Before we can have anything, we need an identity to shape it around.”
“I have put some thought into that, toyed with it, if you will. I don’t have a name, exactly, but I do have an idea of what I want. Of what we want. A name that conveys a sense of speed, of agility. Something that sounds beautiful and complex and sounds right when you say it. But other than that, I have no idea.”
“I think I might,” Black said. “There is a wind in the south of France that gets faster the longer it blows. The Mistral. I think that would be a good name.”
“Mistral? I like it. Mistral Motorsports? Mistral Grand Prix Engineering? Team Mistral.”
“How about … Mistral Race Works?”
“Mistral Race Works.”