Thursday, November 5, 2009

Racing to Melbourne for the Formula one - part three

The speed of the cars is astonishing. It is difficult to believe a human is inside controlling it. They look unnaturally fast, like a slot car on its track. The speed of the cars distorts the track size. They complete the 5.3km circuit in less than two minutes.
Standing beside the track and whipping my head left to right as the cars scream past, the insane nature of anyone stepping onto the track, chills me. The other unbelievable nature of the cars is how they stop. From high speed to dead slow for the corners is like snapping your fingers. The brakes glowing hot red.
The advantage of Melbourne being the first race on the calendar is all the drivers are out during the practice sessions. The disadvantage is I am not familiar with the livery of the new season's cars and I keep diving into my now coverless programme to remind myself who is who.
We are surrounded by people of all ages wearing bright t-shirts and caps of their favourite team. Families are here with children in strollers, wearing large ear protectors. On Friday the park is swarming with school groups given free passes. Most of them gather around the merchandise and the F1 experience tents. It is stifling in the tents as children get their photograph taken with pit girls to the 'rat a tat tat' of the tyre air guns on the pitstop challenge. The bright orange Gillette tent is busy. You can get a shave by a model and keep the razor. The patrons come back proudly showing orange tinted photographs of themselves and half a model's face. There are also car displays and the Royal Australian Air Force do an impressive F/A-18 jet aerial display at various intervals. The highly tuned engine noise being overhead instead of on the track.
Over the four days we make a plan to move around the track looking for the best spot to view the race. I get an idea of the top speed as the cars roar down the straight. I watch them crowd out of the pits. I see drivers take slightly different lines through the corners.
Every evening after returning from the circuit, we wash off the track dust and head out to enjoy the restaurants of Melbourne.

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5 Favourite Sights Seen

  • 1996 Watching tropical lightning turn night to day, outside a little wooden church in a small village in Sabah.
  • 2004 Flying down the Rainbow Valley at 8000ft in a cessna on a clear blue day.
  • 2003 Seeing and hearing Michael Schmacher rolling out of the pit garage in his Ferrari in Hungary.
  • 2009 Chancing upon 100 or more dolphins just off the Kaikoura Coast swimming around, jumping out of the water, doing somersaults and generally having fun.
  • 2006 Finding a pool at the bottom of a waterfall in the bush at Kaikoura that was full of playing baby seals.