This week, the United States Grand Prix takes place in Austin, Texas. Austin is a great city. Full of great food, music and a laid back “come as you are” atmosphere. When you add a Formula One Grand Prix to the mix, it’s a recipe for a very special experience.
Last year’s inaugural race was initially full of trepidation. Would the facility be ready? Would the transportation systems work? Would the fans be treated to a special experience? Fortunately, the answer to all of those questions was yes. Notwithstanding my bus driver getting lost on his way to the circuit early Friday morning. We got there eventually. My wife and I even enjoyed a spectacular ride in a 3 seater Formula 1 car with Formula GP Experience, and I was able to visit in the Paddock thanks to @MercedesAMGF1.
This year, with the World Championships already secured by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing, the casual observer may feel that the race won’t be as captivating. Well, certainly having a title battle going down to the wire is a great treat, but the spectacle of seeing these 2.4L normally aspirated V8s battle in the US for the last time, probably ever, is important. And the battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus for P2, and the important World Constructor Championship prize money cannot be overstated.
But I have a long list of things I’m really looking forward to seeing, and doing this week in Austin. Through my alter-ego, Fake Charlie Whiting, I’ve been blessed to have an ongoing relationship with the Real Charlie Whiting. I’m always grateful when he takes the time to explain a ruling, or a Regulation issue. He’s a genuinely kind and thoughtful gentleman. And because his public acceptance of my Twitter silliness became something of a quasi stamp of approval, some F1 teams have similarly extended me some incredible courtesies.
So, without further ado, here is my (not particularly well sorted) list of things I’m looking forward to this week:
- Meeting with Charlie Whiting, and hopefully spending some quality time with him at the circuit.
- Hearing BBC’s Jennie Gow sing again at Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash on Thursday night.
- Watching Americans eating large turkey legs. Henry VIII style.
- Hopefully spending some time with F1 Medical Car driver Alan van der Merwe in his office.
- Consuming all the live timing on my Fanvision. Oh, wait, never mind. Thanks, Bernie.
- Watching Sebastian Vettel in the esses.
- Tweeting for drinks at the FOTA Fan Forum on Wednesday night. Unless Olly has me ejected.
Seeing Kimi race for the last time in a Lotus in America.
- Meeting @ScarbsF1 aka Craig Scarborough, who’s F1 technical writing is in a class of its own.
- The sound. The smell. Feeling the noise.
- Hopefully meeting NBC Sports’ Steve Matchett over a pint and get him to autograph my “The Mechanics Tale”
- Seeing my favourite IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball in the Paddock.
- Having a tweetup with the Formula1Blog team where we can drink beer and talk F1.
- Texas BBQ.
- Seeing a couple Canadians in the Paddock (1 in Mercedes, 1 in Red Bull Racing).
- Seeing the magic man who makes Buxton look good on TV, Mr. Jason Swales.
- More Twitter fun with @Lotus_F1Team, @MercedesAMGF1, @clubforce and @MyCaterhamF1
- Hearing “Excuse me, are you Fake Charlie Whiting?” (I still find this extremely amusing and humbling)
- Being able to Tweet and run the F1 Live Timing app on my iPad and iPhone (T-mobile do not fail me).
- Buxton. Simply Buxton.
- Hopefully having another brief chat with Martin Brundle & David Croft, my favourite F1 commentators.
- Natalie Pinkham. Natalie Pinkham. Natalie Pinkham.
- Finding where @negativecamber_ is staying and charging my drinks to his room.
- Vettel doing donuts. While eating a Krispy Kreme. Me, not him.
- Cheering on America’s Alexander Rossi as he runs the Caterham during Practice.
- Witnessing Davide Valsecchi’s first Formula One Grand Prix.
- Hopefully seeing Sir Frank Williams in the Paddock. A genuine F1 legend.
- Austin Music.
- The great volunteers at COTA. Genuine southern hospitality.
- Thanking Mark Webber in person for being the kind of racer we’re going to miss next year.
- The scrap for P2. And bragging rights within Mercedes.
- Meeting with as many other F1 fans as I can.
As I look at this list, I have to shake my head at having even the possibility of doing any of these things. I love Formula One, and I promise to share as much of the fun as I can with you over Twitter.
Hopefully those of you who are going have your tickets in hand. It sounds like there has been some drama around that, and I hope those impacted are dealt with fairly and efficiently by COTA.
Paul, Todd and I will no doubt be spending some quality time together in Austin. I’m already looking forward to our race recap podcast. But be warned, this one may run long!