If horse racing is the sport of Kings, then Formula One races is the sport of really big corporate sponsors, the uber rich, celebrities and then the proletariats who fill the temporary metal bleachers and patchy lawns for three days.
Kent and I were among the proud proleteriats when the Formula One circus came screaming into Austin over Halloween weekend.
Watching a $9.4 MILLION DOLLAR racing car circle a track 56 times had never been on my bucket list, but when our friends said they were going to attend the race, we decided to join them. I’ll admit it, I felt a bit smug telling people I was going to Formula One, but that’s because a typical weekend for me involves a dog walk, a trip to Target, and then perusing the movie selections at Red Box. Fancy huh?
Thank goodness our friends Gillian and Eric were there to explain the ins and outs of Formula One racing. I get the part where the guy who crosses the finish line first wins, (I mean duh!) but I had no idea about the fuel and tire restrictions, strategies about tire changes or how vitally important the “post position” was on race day.
As you can see, the race track is HUGE. It is 3.427 miles long and has 20 turns. While I didn’t walk the circumference of the track, I did travel from parking lot L (WAAAY over there by turn 11) to turn 1. You see, I was in search of sustenance (beer and a spicy bean burger) as well as souvenir race hat, but if I saw a celebrity then it was a bonus.
No one famous passed through the teeming masses, but there were a lot of women dressed for a pool party, complete with 4 inch heels. I guess they didn’t get the memo about all the dirt and gravel they would have to traverse just to get to the stand, but I suppose this is what a good orthopedist dreams of at night…future customers.
My FitBit was very proud of the miles I logged that day. It even sent me a message once I hit 20,000 steps – OVERACHIEVER. Who knew FitBits were so sassy?
We had seats at turn 9, so we got see the drivers navigate turns 6 through 11, and then watch them accelerate once they hit the straightaway at speeds up to 200 miles an hour. Just thinking about that makes me want to throw up.
Admittedly, it was exciting to watch…for the first 5 laps, until it wasn’t. Oh look, there are the same 18 cars buzzing around the track, again. Whoopee! Only 51 more laps to go! There was some drama, and that was when Lewis Hamilton passed teammate Nico Rosberg for the lead and it stayed that way the. rest. of. the. race.
So this is my takeaway from The Circuit of America’s Formula One race:
- Be prepared to spend a shit-ton of money. Tickets, Parking, Food, Beer, Souvenirs – nothing is cheap. I considered purchasing a plastic lanyard to hold my ticket until I found out it was $15. I decided to keep it in my purse instead. A black bean burger is going to set you back $14 – but it did come with chips. The only real bargain of the day was my “official” Formula One race hat (designed specifically for a woman) only a mere $28. You better believe I snapped that baby up!
- Be prepared to walk a lot. You are going to walk from the parking lot, to the turnstile, to the stands, to the port-a-potty, to the food trucks, back to the stands, back to the port-a-potty and then out to the parking lot. If you aren’t used to a lot of walking, your butt and legs are going to feel it the next day.
- Be prepared to meet some of the friendliest venue staff EVER in the history of venues! Seriously, I think they sprinkled happy dust on these people. “Welcome!” “Can I help you?” “Thank you for coming!” Honestly, it was a bit unnerving. Where were all the surly people one comes to expect at a major sporting event? And it wasn’t just us. Eric and Gillian mentioned how nice everyone was.
- Be prepared to wait in really long lines. The total attendance over the course of three days was 237,406 people. The longest lines for bean burgers and kabobs (45 freaking minutes!) were of course on Sunday, when 107,778 fans (and posers – that would be me) attended the race.
- On race day be prepared to BOLT out of the stands and RUN to the parking as soon as they wave the checkered flag. For some reason we decided to watch grown men kiss trophies, wave to their adoring fans, and spray really expensive champagne over themselves INSTEAD of heading to the parking lot when we had the chance. Our reward for “fandom” was to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an additional hour.
- And finally, why did no one tell me that Formula Drivers were so hot? I was too cheap to purchase a $20 race program, but my friend Gillian let me look at hers. After scanning the pages I asked her if only incredibly hunky men need apply for this job? RICH race car drivers I might add. According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Lewis Hamilton’s net worth is $200 million dollars, and his annual salary from the Mercedes-Benz/Patronas Team is $40 million. Oh yeah, he’s dating Nicole Scherzinger of the “Pusscat Dolls.” It’s too bad his life sucks so much.
So, would we go again next year? I know we look incredibly happy here, but probably not. Unless of course someone gives us tickets at Club Level, with television monitors, unlimited food and drinks, and a parking pass. What about you? Would you attend a major sporting event with the teeming masses or watch it on your big screen at home?