The US Grand Prix has become an annual Father's Day event in our household. Family flies in a few days prior to the race and we go to a few baseball games and car shows in between Thursday's pitwalk and Sunday's race. It is a regular testosterone-fest for the men in my life. This year was no different - well, except for the fact that there wasn't a race.
Much has been written about the 2005 US Grand Prix, so I will not bore you with another account of the events. If you have not heard the details yet, you can read a fantastic account of what happened here
. Instead, my intention is to document what it was like to be a fan (or at least among the fans) in the stands.
We were very fortunate and had wonderful seats. We did not have to worry about parking as we were part of a police escorted motorcade. For us, it was a short walk from where our bus parked to the private suite where we would enjoy the race. We were served breakfast and lunch, had private bathroom facilities, an open bar, a television tuned to the Speed Channel, and a full balcony from which we could see nearly everything. It was incredible. In fact, it was more than incredible. We were set for a remarkable experience at the 2005 US Grand Prix.
From our perch above the crowd, we had a decent view of the fans. There were folks from all over the world, many of whom were carrying their country's flags and were sporting head to waist paint in the colours of their favourite race car driver. One fellow wore a t-shirt that said, "I came from Columbia to see Montoya win the race!". Another fan carried a sign that said "Kimi, I am your father!" with a giant picture of Darth Vader on it. His buddy wore a Vader helmet and walked alongside of him. It was nothing short of an interesting collection of people.
We knew that Michelin had some trouble with their tires on the newly resurfaced track earlier in the week and had heard some rumours just prior to the race that the Michelin teams wanted a chicane put in at turn thirteen but we really had no idea exactly what was about to ensue. All twenty of the cars participated in the formation lap, but on the way back, the Michelin cars pulled into their garages. Those of us in the stands did not know what was going on. Things soon became clear, however, and the crowd, as though on cue, began to chant. In unison, two words rang clear throughout the Speedway - the first was bull, the second you can take a stab at guessing. ;) Chaos ensued as the group of Columbia fans beneath us threw their air horns onto the track. Then an angry fan from the section beneath us threw a beer bottle onto the track, endangering the lives of the drivers and the corner workers. At that point, security wanted all of us who were on the terrace to go back inside while they investigated. There were concerns that things were about to get out of hand. Thankfully things did not escalate.
When we were able to return outside, we were treated to what amounted to a Ferrari test session. It was not much of a race - the best team in the organization against the two worst. By the end of the race, Schumacher and Barrichello had run laps around the Minardi and Jordan teams. It was boring even for an avid Formula One fan, such as my husband. In fact, many fans left the stands just a few laps into the race as it was clear that Ferrari would win and that the Ferrari script would be followed, resulting in another Schumacher win. The only question was which one of the Minardi cars would take third place. In the shadow of such a farce of a race, it is terrible to think about all of the money that had been spent on tickets, airfare, hotels, and restaurants - the list goes on and on.
Regardless of the outcome of the race, my family had a fantastic time together. It was wonderful to get caught up and spend some quality time together. I find myself a little less homesick now that I have had a chance to visit with some folks from home. As for Formula None, one can only hope that the FIA will sort this mess out
and that Sunday's events (or lack thereof) will not be permanently damaging to the sport.