Big Question Marks

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hangin' at the Grand Prix

Melbourne Grand Prix
Originally uploaded by bigquestionmarks.
Last weekend we both worked at the Melbourne Formula1 Grand Prix- both for the cash as well as well as for the experience. At $99 a ticket, there wasn't much chance we'd be going as fans, anyway!

For two kids who aren't much into cars, it was actually still really cool. Adrian was the guardian of the corporate box for CAT, where he schmoozed and hobnobbed and ate lots of free food, and watched bits of the race where he could. Dayle was placed right on the Grandstand, checking tickets (and busting people who tried to sneak through), and getting to run to the track once in a while to watch. She was ecstatic to find she was right between the start and finish lines!

The weekend was hella hot- we're told quite unusual for March in Melbourne- Friday and Sunday were the worst, wearing thick uniform shirts (to quote Adrian: "I now know what it must feel like to wear a burqa") and sweating like crazy in the 40-degree heat. At least it was sunny! We saw many a drunk sunburned Aussie hiding in the little scattered patches of shade. Dayle actually had a zombie scare (and had begun comtemplating climbing the grandstand frame) when a dude in an orange t-shirt did a loping zigzag shuffle, hands out front, right towards her gate, and then promptly tripped on the first step and fell on his face. She realized then with relief he wasn't a brain-thirsty zombie, he just had a few too many VB's. Phew!

The crowd was really all for Ferrari- maybe it's all about the name?- and there were fans in red everywhere (or perhaps because Kimi Raikkonen won the race here last year). Lots of people wore flags as capes (quite the Aussie sporting tradition it seems) and there were even a few gladiators (check out our pics on Flickr). The band Kiss was closing the weekend, so on Sunday there were also many weird-looking people in black and silver, limping around the grounds of Albert Park in their moonboots.

But the coolest part was the noise- even while wearing earplugs there was something exciting about the vrooming engines on these machines. If you had to take a earplug out, even for a few seconds, the Formula Ones would rattle the teeth. Insane! We were told by some fans that the cars go 300 km/h or so... just unbelievable! (Especially since we have a van which barely does 100 km/h!). We also watched the V8 cars racing, an Aussie tradition of Ford vs. Holden (the big car manufacturer over here, which we heard is going to make a go for it in North America). There were also some miniature-- but super-fast-- races by the "Aussie Racing Cars", that were so tiny the driver's head was seen where the back seat would be, in these little rounded cars. Cute! (No pictures of those but they're probably online somewhere) Then it was the usual fighter-jet shows and people drinking lots of beer that seems to come with such events... that about sums it up.

Word on the street is that the Melbourne Grand Prix continues to lose tons of money and might not be here past 2010 (it came here from Adelaide just a little over a decade ago). Kind of sad, since there's a cool track for it around a lake and people get pretty excited about it. We didn't even realize there's a Grand Prix in Montreal, but when we're back we definitely want to go! Sure, it's terrible for the environment, the blue clouds of exhaust, but there's something so cool about these terrible beasts vrooming around a track with fire coming out the sides. There were even these handheld TVs you could rent for the weekend (called Kangaroo TV I think) which looked like PS3's but fed you live camera footage of each racing team, in the pits and in the cars, aerial views on the track and so on. You could eavesdrop on whoever you want and actually follow what's on when it's too fast to keep up. Pretty cool!

Now we're working on recovering our hearing and are heading out for some camping along the Great Ocean Road. There's a big surfing competition on at Bells Beach, so we plan to hit that, just chill out a bit and eat chocolate eggs on the beach. Happy Easter everyone and thanks for reading! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! xoxox, D&A "?"