Monday, November 2, 2009

Racing to Melbourne for the Formula one - part one

The last race of this season has just been raced - Next year Melbourne is the second race on the calendar. This was my experience of Melbourne - the first year Lewis Hamilton blazed onto the F1 scene.

At the cramped, hot, downtown ticket office I wait in a spiralling queue for our four-day general admission Formula One Grand Prix tickets. Behind me two grey haired, bespectacled Englishmen compare races they have attended. One complains Suzuka had only one class with just four cars, other than the Formula One. They agree Melbourne is great because of the entertainment and races that fill in the gaps between the Formula One sessions. Despite the sweat breaking out on my forehead, the talk builds my excitement.
No Formula One cars are practising on the Thursday but we decide we cannot wait to see the track at Albert Park. It is near the inner city and we clamber on a tram, free-of-charge with our Grand Prix tickets, for a ride right to the circuit gates.
Thursday is hot, dry and dusty. The park is mostly empty and the ING clad volunteers look pleased to find us to give jellybeans, sunscreen and lanyards. The crackly public address system announces the Ferrari drivers will be available for autographs. In the heat we walk across the closed in, metal bridge over the track and the white plastic pontoon bridge floating on the lake, to finally reach the tent where the drivers will appear. We find the other Thursday spectators in a long red queue. Brown dust from the straw covering the ground, sticks to my sweaty feet. It will not brush off and it embeds in my hands and under my fingernails.

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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.