Thursday, March 14, 2013

TexxArse Twister - Austin does F1 in style: Part III

Otay, so its finally the day, as in race day of this riveting story...

Sun, 11/18
Blissfully, we got to sleep in Sunday morning, thanxs to there being no 9AM practice sessions to scurry off for, having decided to skip the final warm-up outing; OOPS! Think I’m showing my age here, as I don’t think they do a Sunday morning warm-up practice session anymore? And to boot, we didn’t even have to take the bus downtown, as Nelie graciously dropped us off just scant blocks away. Yet today’s crowd for the shuttle busses was obviously the most, as it was jammed packed, although once again we got to use the “Handicap” express lane instead...

And like I said, the throng of bodies on race day was absolutely immense! Not to mention the crowds seeking entrance to the track, as I told Clyde; DAMN! I think its gonna be crowded today as we marched in the Congo-line  like busy worker ants all going the same place, a la the  masses of shuttle busses on the “Rick Perry Highway!” And it appeared that extra busses were pressed into service Sunday, since we ended up riding upon a regular Austin city transit bus to the racetrack instead of the typical Greyhound styled bus; as Clyde later told me that some 600-busses  were utilized to transport everyone; Aye Karumba!

Not sure when we exactly got to our seats, as I’d simply wanted to arrive prior to the F1 Drivers Parade... As it was somewhat funny that there were actually people seated around us, not to mention in our same row, as we’d pretty much had the place to ourselves the first two days.

We  arrived sometime after 9:30AM - since we caught the last portion of the Pirelli GT3 Trophy  Cup’s (US West) final race - actually witnessing one luckless Porsche 911 pilot spin off directly in front of us at our corner, as I think there were actually a few cars involved, as I’m pretty sure it was this race that evoked memories of Indianapolis... Or was it the next race for the Ferrari 458 Italia Challenge instead?

‘Whale I do recall a 911 Porsche going by in the late stages with some bodywork askew... As the memory for Mwah was that oh so familiar wafting of burnt rubber, which a la IMS drifted pass us like a lazy cloud in delayed action, i.e.; the offending culprit’s racecar was already long gone when the “dust cloud” intoxicated us...

And we got to watch the entire final 458 Italia series 10-lap race which also had some Rubbin’ is Racin’ action, albeit I remember laughing over Jonathan Green’s comments ‘bout how the ‘Boyz were behaving  themselves today, after having a  talking to by the race steward, as apparently they’d gone six-wide and done some agricultural work the day prior! As I marveled at how you could actually hear the announcers compared to not hearing a work during the Formula 1 action.

And Greg Kramer got up behind the wheel, threw his elbows out and got all ah-lather over the Ferrari’s going four-wide into Turn-1 on the opening lap, which they all managed to make.

And then finally there was the F1 driver’s parade, with the most hilarious part occurring when the vintage Mustang convertible Michael Schumacher was slated to ride in wouldn’t start... As the announcer kept reminding us that the vintage ‘Stang wouldn’t start, as I could only imagine the sheer humiliation this was causing its owner! Finally telling us that the Mustang had been pushed aside as a bevy ‘O vintage “Muskel Carz” had been rounded up for each driver to ride upon; as I made some sorta joke about how Michael simply hadn’t wanted to be in the parade? Actually think he either rode with Kimi? (Which would have been pretty startling & funny...) or they found another vehicle for him? Hey! You try remembering every-thingy a month after you’ve attended the race and took minimal notes; but I digress...

Afterwards, we went off in search of the ‘Loo and then Clyde said let’s walk around a little, which we did and stumbled into a band setting up on one of the multitudes of stages to which Clyde said, let’s check it out. And Clyde said I jumped about three feet high when the over-amplified band began playing, hustling to re-insert my earplugs; YIKES!

Don’t know who the group was, although the singer said they were a local band from Austin of which all I recall is that the one song we listened to was a cover version of Rod “the Bod” Stewart’s “Rita, you smell sweeta, with a face like that you’ve  got nothing to complain about! You can even wear my best cologne; just don’t be here when I get home...”

And that was one of the most amazing things to Mwah the entire weekend, as the only noise that permeated the shrill barking of the F1 cars were the countless BOOM BOOM BOOMING of bass from different music acts playing during the three-days - which I could painfully hear through my earplugs atop the racing cars...

Then we made our way back to our seats, as the grandstand now was completely filled, and then the cars were coming by on their reconnaissance lap, of which only in America - I’d decided to stand-up (only) for the recon-lap and the person behind me tapped me on the shoulder ‘N said I couldn’t stand up, I was blocking his view; WTF? So I sat down muttering under my breath, can you FREAKIN’ believe I-T? And of course as soon as  the cars arrived, everybody in front of me stood up to  do likewise, to which I said “’F that!” and promptly stood  up once again! Hey, I’ve done this before at Indy & around thee world, so gee Wally, may be I am a trained race spectating professional?

It was GURR-REAT! Seeing the F1 cars at their somewhat moderate pace, doing their traditional swerving gyrations of cleaning/putting heat into tyres, without too many of the traditional NHRA tyre warming burnouts occurring in front of us... As I have to say one of my biggest disappointments all weekend long was not being able to hear the start of the race, as apparently we were too far away from the start/finish line. As there’s nothing like the sound of 24-buzz saws all hovering around maximum RPM’s before dropping the clutch; Err releasing  the hand clutch in unison as twenty-four F1 ‘Landsharks go screaming into the first corner - which sadly was completely unheard from our locale.

Then somebody said here they come, as tiny little flicks ‘O colour could be momentarily seen across the vast expanse coming down the hill, which I believe is Turn-2? And before you knew it, they were here! As all 24-cars shrieked past us pretty much in single file as this was to be the start of the constant drone of multiple Formula 1 chassis going round ‘N round... to which Mary Ellen said, you’d better tell your audience this... What? You fell asleep during the Formula 1 race? You paid how much to go all the way to Austin, Texas to see Michael Schumacher and  you fell asleep; WTF? After all it was Michael’s swan song in America...

Yeah, it’s hard to believe, and there weren’t NO alcoholic beverages involved, but somewhere near the first third of the race? I started doing the bus head, droopy eyelids scene and ended up taking about a twenty minute catnap in the midst of twenty-four 18,000RPM banshee wailing racecars... And when I awoke I noticed my compatriot was also very silent too... As there’s just something ‘bout watching  cars pounding ‘round ‘N round that seems to mesmerize Mwah; or is that hypnotize? Yeah that’s the ticket!

But I was awake when Clyde pointed out the Red Bull car who’s right front tyre was in the air, which I now believe was actually the Toro rosso of “JEV” (Jean-Eric Vergne) who retired from the race on lap-14 with suspension failure.

And for the longest time it was just like Indy, watching the freightrain go round ‘N round, although DER TERMINATOR’s (M. Schumacher) car kept slipping backwards, as Clyde shouted over the din that Kimi had passed him, then ‘JENSE and on-and-on... As I still don’t understand what happened to Michael who’d started a promising sixth place.

And then what happened to one of the Red Bulls? As I never did hear anything trackside, while Clyde told me that ‘Juan ‘O the black cars and silver cars were having a great tussle over position... Think this was the Raikkonen-Button scrap which I’m told was a great wheel-to-wheel battle before ultimately ‘JENSE secured the position.

And I have to say I wasn’t impressed one iota by la Scuderia’s shenanigans of breaking Felipe Massa’s Gearbox seal just hours prior to the start simply in order to advance Alonso one position... Yeah, I get I-T, but I just don’t like I-T! As wouldn’t it be funny if suddenly Massa started kicking Alonso’s ARSE next year? Then what would Ferrari do? As I’d truly like to see the Brazilian win a race just to prove he’s recovered from that horrendous bump on his head  at Hungary...

As coming into the track on Friday morning, one of the countless volunteers we interacted with told us he was from Brazil; Oh? To which I said go Felipe! To which he said something about Massa wasn’t that good anymore...

And I know Y’all won’t believe me, but, I actually predicted the race’s winner on Friday, boldly telling Clyde that thee young “Louise ‘JAGUAR” Hamilton was my pick to win, even though I’d prefer it being Vettel. It was just a hunch after his recent pace and hearing somebody saying Austin and Abu Dhabi were very similar tracks, of which Lewis should have won that race before his McLaren failed him.

And then the crowd erupted in applause as we’d missed it, but Hamilton had pounced upon the opportunity to overtake the race’s leader Vettel, which apparently was done with the aid of traffic, which I’ve since heard was the backmarker Hispania of thee “Speediest Indian.” (Narain Karthikeyan) As why does it feel like there’s been NO off-season and I’ve been scribblin’ madly for my dwindling number of readers ever since returning... And hence, it’ll now be after Christmas before I just stop for the day and watch my tape of the Austin Grand Prix.

Also, the second thingy I called right; DAMN IT! Where do I place my bets, as I said to Clyde who asked who’s gonna present the trophies? Oh, its gonna be Governor Rick “Good Hair” Perry, to which he shot back Nah. See, I tolds Yuh! To which this made the two of us break out into insidious laughter, as the president of Texas, who isn’t an Obama supporter and was the instigator in succession... Had to give the trophy to gulp! Of all people,  a black man; EUREKA! As I’m not shakin’ his hand, oops, butterfingers you dropped my trophy Mr. Perry; Hya! As this mental image made the trek all the way to Austin totally worthwhile!

Another nice touch we heard about over the PA was that they gave the three podium boys some Stetson hats to wear; Yeehaw! As how cool was it having ‘super Mario (Andretti) being the podium’s MC - for a total of four world champions on stage talking to us, as I seem to recall that Fernando got the most applause overall, followed by Lewis, as everybody seemed very pleased with the races outcome.

And I recall telling Clyde how enjoyable it was hearing Hamilton truly ecstatic for once, as he seemed almost gushing, giddy with glee during the podium celebration... Compare ‘N contrast that to say, I dunno, Monza or wherever it was he won and was totally dejected, flat and sulking during his press conference just prior to having decided to leave McLaren; know I scribbled ‘bout it here on this ‘BLOB somewheres...

As it also seems worth noting that the victory pushed Hamilton’s total to one clear of some guy named “Mika-the-Finn’s” (Hakkinen) tally of twenty victories for McLaren...

We chilled out a little while in the stands, hoping to give the throng of race fans a head start, and as we finally left, we passed a group of very cheerful Mexicali’s singing joyfully in the grandstand. Yet, there were still people everywhere! And we finally gave in and joined the ‘Mega crowd. As its funny how memories are created, since now every time I hear the Outfield’s “Your Love“ on my ‘lil transistor radio’s crappie ‘80’s radio station I frequent, I immediately flashback to hearing this blasting out of the speakers at COTA as we marched along in the slow moving crowd...

And remember that smallish footbridge I’d told Y’all ‘bout way back when - although it was wide enough for a single vehicle to cross. ‘Whale, our monstrous crowd was so H-U-G-E! That it simply dwarfed the bridge, which simply became a roadblock, as the crowd bottlenecked trying to funnel down into a small stream of bodies crossing the bridge, coming to an absolute standstill. As we’d take two steps and then stop, take another two-three steps and stop. Yuhs know, like the commercial sez; shampoo, rinse and then repeat, right?

Probably took us 10-20 minutes crossing this bottleneck, and then the lineup for the shuttle busses was even longer, and as we stood at a dead stop a  voice said excuse me, coming thru. As some people were escorting an elderly gentleman with a walker sideways like a crab thru the sea of humanity! Hmm? Afterwards, this gave Clyde an idea, as he said I think I’ve had enough of this line, let’s go over there... Of which I was clueless about, yet it was another “VIP” (Handicap) lane, which we were promptly given entrance to - thanxs “Mr. Joystick,” (white cane) albeit I’ve been referring to it as my crack finder lately; but I digress...

And viola, we were whisked over to a waiting bus, and a super-duper kind ‘N friendly (black) bus driver who said hang-on there a moment young feller, and proceeded to offer me his hand and walked me all the way up the stairs and to our seat at the rear of the bus! As once again, just like what typically occurs at Indianapolis; everybody at Circuit Of The Americas treated me like royalty! SHIT! Even if the tickets were $400-large per person, (just to sit in the grandstands...) I’m already stoked to go back again next year! As ALL of the countless volunteers were pleasant, friendly and helpful the entire weekend, which is not too  shabby, considering they were dealing with an announced sellout crowd of 117,429 crazed Formula 1 Aficionados...

And that was just one day’s count, although COTA’s three days attendance of some 250,000+ was slightly less then the Indy 500 draws on race day; CRIKEYS!

Oh yeah, almost forgot, in ‘legendous ‘Claudio fashion, as we  were walking along towards that pesky foot bridge, Clyde told a woman alongside us; you’ve got kind of a funny accent, where Y’all from? Oh, I’m from New Zealand and I’m here on Holiday staying with family. I just didn’t want to miss this race, as I’ll probably never get another chance to go to an inaugural event and besides, its cheaper to come here  then go to a race in Europe; as I’ll just let Y’all chew on that awhile, eh?

And somehow I don’t think thee ‘Dom of IndyCar bloggers, i.e.; pressdog ever links to Mwah, but, to see if I missed anything & for a different perspective - especially from somebody who can S-E-E! Y’all may wish to check out the ‘DAWG’s story link below:

Thanks to our being offered the VIP line, as I’d guesstimate we’d have been there another hour? By the time we finally got to downtown Austin, the sun was low on the horizon as we began walking the multiple blocks to Austin, where we encountered a couple from England also on Holiday, as Clyde said; I can tell which side of the track you were sitting on. (As Clyde told me he was sunburned on one side...) And I found it amusing how he was a total Button fan, as I’d asked him what happened to Bloody ‘JENSE the day prior? While his “Better Half” surprisingly was a Vettel fan!

Saying our goodbyes, I called Nelie and told her to meet us downtown, as Clyde said we had one last musician to go listen to, as it was sometime after five O’clock now...

Oh yeah, when we got off the shuttle busses in Austin, once again they had a friendly greeting committee of volunteers asking if we knew where we were? Need any directions? And to boot, they had some musicians playing country, or was it western; Hya! As there was a violin, etc. Which I thought was a pretty nice touch.

But we didn’t have any time for that, as we were on a mission, as Clyde said, Tomaso, you like walking, right? As I think we ended up walking some 15-plus blocks to downtown in search of Bob Schneider; Who ‘Dat, you say?

And this time as my stomach rumbled, and my throat was parched from the day’s sun, I readily inhaled the 4-mini pixie-cup thimbles worth of free Pepsi Clyde handed me... And hey, gimme some of those free Doritos; hee-hee-hee...

And as I said ‘Wayback in Thursday’s rant, I’d never heard of any of these musicians with the exception of Kim Wilson & The Fabulous thunderbirds. And I’m not really sure how to describe Messer Schneider, other than this Dude absolutely ROCKS! As I found him to be by far, hands down, the best musician we’d seen over the entire weekend!

And by far, my favourite song of his was the above “Let’s Roll” rhapsody, (wrap-song) this time tastefully accompanied on trumpet by a local musician who Clyde said is in charge of the annual Million Man marches.

After rockin’ out to a very long, hot, kickin’ rendition of Ready, let’s Roll by Bob; Bob? What about Bob? Oh Never Mind! Mister Schneider took a breather by asking the crowd are you ready? I’ll be ready as soon as I put a new set of tyres on my car... Sorry, son, I just SPENT your whole college tuition to go to the F1 race... Which got a rousing response from the crowd? He talked to us awhile in order to catch his breath before segwaying into another song, which he dedicated to all the ladies in the audience. ‘Somme-thun ‘bout don’t give your love away - keep it for me, which drew a big laugh from the women in the crowd, as the place was jam packed.

He and his entourage played a  bevy ‘O songs, in all different fashions, got all of us to sing along,  having just the women sing, and then all the men sing plus did some groovy sounding “Mariachi” style songs, all of which sounded great with the aforementioned trumpeter, as I would gladly pay to go see Bob Schneider perform again!

(Kudos Austin for all of the cool, FREE musicians at the Fan Fest...

Aftermath: Mon-Tues, 11/19-20
Monday morning I slept again, as it was pretty blasé compared to three nonstop action packed days at thee track, to which I’d give COTA definitely two, thumbs-up upon... As it was back to the normality of daily busy-body work, as Clyde left me solo to go to a dentist appointment and thus I attempted cranking out the formative four pages ‘O notes that comprise this riveting story; Yeehaw!

And I’ve already had ‘CARPETS accuse me once of ‘Wingeing ‘cause my flight got delayed... And I chose the ticket; BUTT! FREAKIN’ EH RAY! I’m flying from Austin to Los Angeles; LAX to San Francisco and then San Fran to SeaTac, just to go home? Are you FREAKIN’ KIDDDING? It now takes three planes to go what should approximately be a five hours plus direct flight; WTF? Oh Never Mind!

And the first “Jetway Jockey” who assisted me down the causeway asked me where I’m going? Now or final destination? I’m going to Seattle. Oh, you’ve been in the news - major rains there, flooding and B-I-G rainstorm with 90mph winds on your coast; SWELL! Yet actually the storm was on Monday fortunately.

And I didn’t expect to make all of my connections, since I’ve never managed this once yet going thru LAX, but, guess what? It wasn’t LA’s fault this time, even with my two hours layover, our flight was delayed. Which I’ve never heard this reason before.

As the airport’s speakers crackled to life telling us our flight was delayed, nope, your aeroplane is here, just NOT your flight crew... Who are delayed in San Francisco due to the weather. As apparently whenever the weather is SHIT in San Fran and fog or heavy rains clobber the Bay, they shut down one of the airport’s two runways for safety’s sake, and henceforth cause a major backup in flights ingress/egress; CRIKEYS!

Then when we did finally get on the plane and depart late, after we’d taxied away from the gate - which I’ve heard is all part of the semantics the airlines play for there “On Time” departures... As we were taxiing along, I mumbled to myself “that doesn’t sound good” as the engine suddenly spooled down. Ah  folks this is your captain speaking. Looks like we’re gonna be further delayed due to the weather in San Francisco. They’ve asked us to shut down our engines and park here, should be about 15-20mins...

Of course all of this was going to make me miss my next connection, blah-blah-blah... As the next assistant who pushed me in the wheelchair started panicking and making groaning noises & heavy breathing, like he was gonna have a heart attack while trying to push me fast thru the airport since naturally my connecting gate was all the way at the other end of the airport and he really didn’t think we were going to make I-T! As I just mused to myself how funny it was that he kept asking repeatedly the blind person what’s your gate number?

And I have to say I’m not impressed with United Airlines at all, as oddly enough I’d been left way over away from my  gate and where everybody was seated, instead being placed alongside the two pilots of my actual flight crew... As it was funny listening to them gripe about how United’s becoming Continentalized... Kind of like when Boeing merged with McDonald Douglas, or what many have said about the Indy Racing League’s takeover; Err merger with Champ Car and how the series became very Champ Car like post mergification...

The reason I wasn’t impressed by United? ‘Whale since they’d seated me out of sight, and what’s fast becoming airport de riggour these days - there was NO call for pre-boarding, as they just started boarding the sections as I tried groping my way over to the appropriate line with my white cane, as people would just say: “Keep going,” and watch out for the seat, persons, etc. But I made it home by midnight and had a wonderful time in Austin and definitely enjoyed the brand new Circuit Of The Americas venue, not to mention seeing the BADDEST ARSE  racing cars on the planet. YEE HAW; Y’all come back Yuh hear!

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