Funded by Omnicom and the Chicago government, the Nova Park circuit was created to give Omnicom a home track and improve Chicago’s reputation during the city’s recent period of economic resurgence. Entering the AGL in 2150, the new track quickly cemented itself as a favorite among fans and pilots alike due to its unique surroundings and sweeping corners. However, this reputation was not to last.
On August 9th, 2157, during an Omnicom test session at the Nova Park circuit, the area was suddenly devastated by a freak earthquake which seemingly came out of nowhere. Measuring at a staggering 7.1 on the Richter scale, the quake tore through the park's AGL circuit, leveled several multi-story buildings and caused severe damage to Chicago's sewage network and electrical grid. Luckily, several smaller tremors immediately beforehand prompted a safe evacuation of the area, but the financial impact of the incident resulted in an economic slump that lasted for more than 2 years. Strangely, the damage was entirely localized around the circuit in Nova Park, leaving the rest of Chicago nearly untouched.
Immediately after the quake, Chicago’s government ordered a money-no-object independent investigation to find the cause of the incident. Headed by Omnicom’s chief engineering team, the investigatory body concluded that the earthquake was a man-made occurrence rather than a freak of nature. While it was initially suspected to have been a result of Omnicom testing the prototype for the new upgraded version of their Tremor weapon, cleanup crews allegedly unearthed the charred remains of a Seismic Emitter chassis manufactured by Diavolt, leading investigators to conclude that a flaw in Diavolt’s Tremor design was to blame.
This claim was hotly contested by Diavolt's senior leadership, who fiercely denied any involvement in the accident, even going as far as to claim that the evidence was planted to deflect the blame off of Omnicom. They pointed out several glaring issues in the investigation: the fact that Omnicom’s own staff coordinated the effort and absolved their own company of all guilt, the lack of any concrete evidence of the seismic emitter being present during the cleanup, the fact that all of Diavolt’s craft and engineering staff were in Russia testing at the Aciknovae Reactor at the time of the incident, and the suspiciously secretive nature of the whole investigation. Rather than offer a counterargument to Diavolt’s claims, Omnicom chose to immediately ban Diavolt from all of their affiliate media networks, censoring all of their attempts to defend themselves. Ironically, this act of censorship backfired on Omnicom by lending credibility and publicity to Diavolt’s claims, swaying the opinions of various neutral parties towards Diavolt’s side of the argument. What resulted were several years of bickering and finger-pointing in the media, with both parties accusing the other of corruption and calling on the public to take sides.
After a protracted and expensive legal battle, Diavolt was eventually found guilty of Gross Negligence by the state of Illinois, and was fined several billion dollars in damages. This decision has been harshly criticized by many for convicting a potentially innocent party based on "inconclusive" evidence. To this day, Diavolt still denies any involvement in the incident, claiming that they are innocent victims of corruption within Omnicom and the Chicago government. They are still banned from all of Omnicom’s media networks, but they make their stance on the situation very clear with their aggressive behavior towards Omnicom on the track. This obvious animosity has led to rumors that Diavolt is quietly collaborating with other parties aggrieved at Omnicom, most notably their fellow racing teams Hyperion and Scorpio. When questioned about such agreements, Diavolt’s representatives have repeatedly refused to comment.
After the lawsuit was settled, Omnicom constructed a new circuit from the remains of Nova Park. Renamed to Nova Split, the hastily constructed venue uses sections of the old circuit but is now far more difficult due to its hectic and broken layout. Though the park is steadily being rebuilt, the circuit is still flanked by collapsed buildings and wreckage - an aching reminder of the disaster that shaped it into the track it is today. Regardless of the true cause, the Nova Park Earthquake was by far the worst media scandal in recent history, and arguments over who should be held responsible still flare up today. Omnicom’s brash handling of the entire situation has greatly contributed to the dwindling of their popularity among the general public, and Diavolt’s on-track aggression has kept tensions high between AGL teams and fans, meaning that the debacle is likely to have far-reaching effects on the sport for a long time.
- Nova Split was originally released as a free track expansion alongside Arrivon Xi to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Wipeout 2097/XL and was made as a reference to Spilskinanke. It was later remade and introduced to the game for the 1.0 release.
- The original Nova Split was the first track in the game to be made with the in-game layout creator and use the TRM format.