The following is a special feature from Austin F1 fan, Jenny Tynes. Jenny is an experienced Austin Realtor® that excels at introducing and teaching others the ins and outs of Austin to help make it home. From neighborhoods to school systems, the Congress Avenue bats to the Barton Creek Greenbelt, the best margaritas to live music, Jenny has a lot to share about Austin and is expecially excited about the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™.
I wanted to take a test run of a Formula 1™ race before the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas™ in Austin this November. That is what led me on an adventure to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June of 2012. And am I ever glad that I took the racing fan plunge!
As a “veteran” race fan now, here is a short list of recommendations that I garnered from my very ﬁrst Formula 1 race.
// 1. Spend the $10-15 to get a Race Program!
It should be printed in the native language of the race's host country (French in Montreal) and also in English. Granted it is kind of heavy to tote around but it is well worth it. It should include:
- The entire race weekend schedule. Hugely important to make sure that you get to your seat in time to catch the action!
- A great map of the entire track.
- Details about each of the individual drivers, their cars and tips to help you spot your favorite driver on the track!
- All sorts of race related articles such as what each of the colored ﬂags mean (red, yellow, black and white checkered, just to name a few), how qualifying is broken down into three mini-elimination rounds (news to me!) and more.
// 2. Consider buying one of the race lanyards that they sell at the track.
In Canada, they were only about $10. But hugely helpful to carry all those things that you gather during the day, such as:
- Your race day ticket. You have to show it over and over to access your seats so why not keep it front and center?
- Map of the track with important areas such as restrooms, shuttle stops, food/drinks, souvenirs and ATM noted.
- Your ear plugs, or ear defenders as an F1 friend from the UK calls them. Trust me, you will want them readily available once the engines get roaring!
- Extra items that you will need access to after the race such as transportation passes and your hotel room access key.
- Put any business cards or receipts that you gather during the day here as well. I learned the hard way after putting a business card in my shorts pocket, only to see it destroyed in the washing machine.
// 3. Prepare for all types of weather when you head to the race.
No matter what the weatherman says! While in Montreal, we baked in the afternoon sun and shortly thereafter experienced a chilly downpour that appeared out of the blue. I would suggest packing:*
- A good sun hat or baseball cap, preferably of your favorite team or driver! Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari were all popular in Montreal.
- Plenty of SPF 30+ sunscreen. Re-apply generously.
- A fold-up rain jacket or poncho to be on the safe side. You could bring an umbrella but not always so welcomed by grandstand neighbors during a race!
// 4. Wear comfortable walking shoes and carry a backpack or sling-across bag.
You will most likely do a fair amount of walking during race weekend. But that was part of what I loved most about the weekend: absorbing the atmosphere, the fans and the entire race experience.
At most circuits, you can even walk the actual racetrack after the ﬁnal race is over! It gives you a real sense of what the drivers see. Pretty cool to pick up some marbles (rubber debris of race tyres that erode and fall to side of the track). And yes, in Formula 1 they are called "tyres"!
Oh and the backpack or sling bag? To carry that camera, binoculars, video camera, rain jacket, race program and any other swag that you buy at the track!*
// 5. Consider some sort of seat cushion for the bleachers.
Especially if you are planning on attending all three days of race activities. Depending on the track, the stands are often temporary metal bleachers. And hard indeed they are!
I was so engrossed in the race that I somehow ended up sitting on this connection joint in the stands. Boy did I wish that I had some padding. Since returning home, I found a great blowup sit pad at REI that folds up to be very compact.* It is already in my Austin race ready bag.
I’m now better prepared for the inaugural United States Grand Prix race on November 16-18, 2012!
Hope this info was helpful and that we see ya’ll in Austin!
*Please refer to COTA's FAQs for a list of approved items, to be released "later this summer."
// CONTEST ALERT
We're launching a new Friday Feature that is focused on YOU, the F1 FAN!
Every Friday we will publish an F1 Fan's article that offers insight and tips for the upcoming Formula One Grand Prix of United States!
To kick things off, leave a helpful F1 tip in the comments of this article in order to be entered into our contest. Jenny will choose the winning F1 tip and you will receive a COME AND RACE IT sticker autographed by Alexander Rossi!
Contest closes at 12:00PM (Noon) CDT on Thursday, August 23, 2012. Winner will be announced in the August 24, 2012 edition of "Fan Feature" here on this website.
Message Contest@TheAustinGrandPrix.com if you have questions.