Formula 1 US Grand Prix

We spent this past Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas for the Formula One US Grand Prix, which is why we were in Austin in the first place. We actually had tickets for the practice rounds on Friday and Saturday as well, but chose not to use them. I pretty much paid the ignorance tax on that one. Having never bought tickets for a Formula 1 race before I had no idea how it worked. When the tickets went on sale all that were available were 3 day passes, so I assumed that’s all they sold. Months later it turns out they do put single race day tickets on sale. There was nothing I could do about it at that point, so I just chose to forget about all the extra money I needlessly spent. Don’t let that be you though race fans.

The parking rates for the lots immediately adjacent to the Circuit of the Americas were priced at insane levels, so we wound up buying a space in the satellite lot that only cost us $20 (well $60 if you count the fact that I again paid for 3 days and not just one). We had to take a shuttle to the actual track, but that wasn’t a big deal. I think it turned out better for us in the long run anyway because it kept us away from a lot of the race traffic. I had no idea what to expect as far as traffic since over 100,000 people go to these things. It was about a 45 minute drive from where we were staying without traffic, so we left around 10:30 assuming that we would definitely make it there by the race start time of 2. Even with taking the suggested long way around to our parking lot to avoid traffic, which in hind sight I think we didn’t need to do, and having to catch the shuttle to the track we were still there around noon.

We entered the track right around turn 11. We went for the cheapest ticket option, which meant general admission. There are grandstands set up all around the track, but with general admission you just get to stand or sit wherever you find space on the lawn around the track. Lots of people brought those collapsible camping chairs to set up. Again a thing we didn’t realize was possible. All this information we learned that we will have no use for. Hopefully someone else reads this and makes good use of my insight. At any rate there was a retaining wall right next to the turn where we came in that people were sitting on. There were still a few spots left on it, so we grabbed them. It also put us in view of a display monitor for the near by grandstands at that turn, so we could see the whole race and not just the cars as they zoomed by our particular turn. It wound up being a great place for us to sit too because as soon as the race was over we were out the gate and onto a shuttle bus back to the parking lot with no wait.

We got there just in time to see the last 7 or 8 laps of the Porsche race that was going on before the F1 race. After that we had a few hours until the race started, so I decided to take a walk and see what else was going on. At Turn 11 we were pretty much at the far side of the track from the Main Grandstands and where the biggest hoopla at the track was going on at the starting line. The track is almost 3 and half miles around, so it takes awhile to get around to places, especially with all the people. I figured I would find something to eat along the way, but there were insane lines at every place to get food. I made it around to Turn 3 where the crowd of people got way too insane for my taste, and I figured there was no way I would get back in time to let Paul, who stayed to guard our seats, have a chance to walk around before the race if I kept going. I found a drink line that was fairly short who was also selling peanuts, so I grabbed a bag of those and we subsisted on those for lunch.

I know next to nothing about Formula 1 racing. I can rattle of a number of driver’s names just from hearing them when Paul is watching the races even though I mostly am not around when he does so. Since they take place all over the world a lot of them wind up being in the middle of the night and instead of watching them live he’ll record them and watch them on Sunday mornings when I’m at church. I have no idea what teams anybody drives for and I don’t really understand the different things like the constructors stuff and the points, etc. I randomly picked Lewis Hamilton as the guy I was going to cheer for not knowing if he was any good this year or not. Turns out he is. He won the race, and is currently the leader for the season. Paul was cheering for his Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg, who came in second. Rosberg was in first for about a 1/3 of the race before Hamilton managed to pass him in one of the few interesting things to happen during the race. There was some back and forth in the drivers in the middle of the pack, as if I care who comes in 9 or 10 place. I’m sure the driver’s do, but I didn’t and that’s mostly the positions that were being talked about during the race. Hamilton and Rosberg were so far ahead by the end they weren’t even in the same race as everyone else. I found it enjoyable to watch for about the first half because it was a novel experience and it was fun to watch the cars all zoom by. When they started to get more spread out, and it was just watching a lot of cars zoom by over and over I got kind of bored. At least it was a nice day out, and the race has to be finished in 2 hours so it wasn’t that long.

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Despite everything I had heard, the race wasn’t nearly as loud as I was expecting. I came well prepared with ear plugs, and didn’t even wind up using them. I mostly didn’t see other people with them in either. There were a few, but most people I saw had no ear plugs, or had them handing around their necks and not actually in. I wonder if it’s because this track is out in the middle of nowhere in a field so the sound isn’t bouncing off of buildings like it is on some tracks. I’m not someone who is shy about using earplugs. I pretty much never go to a concert without them, so if I felt like they were warranted I would have totally used them, but I didn’t.

Hopefully Paul enjoyed getting to see a race live though. My husband is rather stoic unless he’s expressing anger or frustration over something. Happiness and sadness are not emotions he expresses much, so I can never tell if he actually enjoyed something or not.


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