Thursday, August 18, 2011

Formula 1 and Ferrari Racing

For the past two years, Brice and I have frantically thrown together last minute plans and attended the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal.

This is always a great time for me, because I'm free to let myself be swept away into an alien culture (cars) and colonial splendor (Montreal) for what basically amounts to their biggest public holiday of the year, outside of the Stanley Cup. Oh, yeah, did I mention the final game in the series was being played that same weekend in Toronto, beset by many riots? It was a good time to be in Canada.

Other than the obligatory hours I have to spend behind the wheel for our crazy all-night road trip, it's a pretty relaxing time. We usually arrive at around 4AM, and then we get up early to watch the qualifying rounds and take photos of the track the next day. Mostly, I just keep an eye on our stuff while Brice runs around like a little boy in toy store, read on my Kindle in the sun, and enjoy a couple nights out on the town.

This year we were met with better track-side seats (awesome) and a massive downpour (less awesome). But, the race wasn't canceled, so I guess it was worth the soak. We drank our wine (Rose), cheered our driver (Kobayashi) and celebrated on the track when our team (McLaren) pulled a victory out the last minute over RedBull. There are other cars racing over the course of the weekend -- a whole series devoted just to Ferrari cars come to mind -- but if you want more details about that, check out Brice's blog.

I deal with 10 hours of flaring tempers and driving criticism both ways each spring for one reason, and one reason only: people watching. (OK -- two reasons; it's fun to hang out with Brice when he's not yelling at me to stop singing along with the radio.) F1 Racing is not NASCAR. It draws spectators from all over the world, from the extremely rich Euro-fans who fly across the Atlantic each year to the nearly broke native Canadians who shared their stolen umbrellas with us, F1 has some incredible characters and stereotypes. On the subway, for instance, we saw a herd of "REDBUL ROOOOOOOOOOOCKS!" Guys. And at the track, there were little clusters of "So Italian it Hurts" Men. But I think my favorite, bar none, are the Racing Wives.

Racing Wives are tan, in their mid 40s, and wear $800 sunglasses in the rain. They don't sit in general admission with the rest of us mortals, because that would be unpleasant, but they don't really sit in the grandstands, either. Somehow, they're constantly flitting back and forth between beefy men with binoculars and merchandise tents, keeping their expensive handbags clutched tight under manicured nails. I think they would be fairly boring if they didn't have such ridiculous social rituals and customs. When one Racing Wife passes another, she tosses her hair and looks down her nose -- just over the top of her aviators -- at the other Racing Wife, who has reciprocated by tossing her own hair and positioning her multi-carat wedding rings closer to the challenging female. I've yet to reason out what makes one Racing Wife Alpha and the others Beta, but I anticipate there will be future F1 race-days to work it out.

So thank you, Brice, for treating me to yet another ear-splitting, people-watching road trip to Canada. If we try this again next year, I might even know enough about the drivers to make small talk with you!

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