By David Ray, www.hookedondriving.com
For: The Wheel
Things have settled down a bit, our big HOD weekend event is in the books, and I’ve had some time to reflect on our first foray into providing a tour – to the 2010 Grand Prix of Canada. I’ve gathered a few thoughts and reflections, and will also share some gems from our wonderful dinner with F1 celebrity, historian and advocate, Peter Windsor.
After several years of attending the USGP in Indianapolis, this was our first trip to Montreal, and it reminded Leigh and I of a European and very cosmopolitan city. You can find anything you want in Montreal – and of course, the people are very proud of their French heritage and language. However, we never had any issues communicating in English which almost everyone seems to have learned as a second language. Montreal makes a major commitment to the race, and we must admit to a failure on our part to trek to the Formula One Festival held in downtown Montreal, as we felt pretty foolish watching the fireworks display from our hotel room window. Guess we were just bushed by the time the serious partying kicked in.
We had a great drop-by reception on Friday night for HOD attendees – some 68 of us from Florida, New York, Connecticut, Illinois and California assembled. We were very proud to see and hear HOD folks getting to know one another from across the miles – and share their excitement for this event and for HOD in general.
The race weekend was awesome – but this is not a trip for the timid or retiring types. We travelled via the busy subway “Metro” system which is super efficient and drops you on the iles Notre Dame, an island in the St. Lawrence River. This river is amazing….being from the Midwest, it reminded me of the Mississippi with one difference: It’s rushing at a level that looked like category 3 rapids. The slight disappointment upon arriving on the island is that the track is screened from spectators almost everywhere, unless you are actually sitting in a grandstand. We arrived during an F1 practice session and it was weird – we had at least a 30 minute hike on dirt trails through and around the forest and plantings on the island, while hearing F1 cars fly by here and there without being able to see them. There are no real panoramic views of the circuit – only localized views established by the several huge grandstands. This makes selection of seats very important as well as your shoes – wear hiking shoes…no need to try to impress friends with your Sparco race slippers!
The spirit of the F1 fans, the passion for their favorite teams, drivers, nations, and the friendly kibitzing that goes on is a great part of the sport. We met folks from all over – supporting many different teams – and we all enjoyed the competition in our own way. The cars, in my mind, are the stars. Blindingly fast, able to stop in NO time at all, and piercing the atmosphere with a sweet sonic howl makes then atmosphere electric. You really have to do this sometime if you can. Gerhard Widtmann, our tour guru, did a great job in getting us excellent seats. We did learn – and this won’t happen again next year – that there is one corner of our favorite section (11) that has some annoying trees creating a partial obstruction of the view of oncoming cars. There were a few mildly disappointed HOD fans and we did apologize for this. There was nothing we could do, but learn for next time. In the end, I’m certain that all enjoyed the show, as the race itself was quite entertaining with many ebbs and flows and exciting dices in traffic. Lewis and Jenson did have the field covered on this day. They drove a flawless race and the real chase was for the third podium spot. But along the way, drivers and teams scrambled for every point and you’ll have to refer to your TIVO to see some of the excitement. Thankfully our section had view of two jumbo video screens, so we missed nothing.
After the race, the track was opened for track walks and we bumped in to some HOD folks while strolling the circuit…small world amongst the 120,000 in the crowd! Unless you want to wait a couple of hours, the Metro is your primary solution for exiting the island. And yes, if you don’t mind being a sardine for about 45 minutes, it is amazingly efficient. This was not an exit for the claustrophobic, but we put up with it and were back in our hotel room in about an hour….not bad at all.
Musings from Montreal, and Our Evening with Peter Windsor
July 7, 2010 · No Comments
By David Ray, www.hookedondriving.com