Friday - Sept 28, 2001
Last night, Jay arrived from Huntsville Alabama and E.T. from Detroit.
Brian joined us Friday morning as we left for the track at 9 a.m.
We parked across the street from the track in a mobile home community that charged us $10. Today was cloudy and overcast. Although it began cold, it quickly warmed up, so that no jacket was needed.
We had no trouble gaining access to the speedway. As this is the first international event since the World Trade Center and Pentagon bombing, security was something on every body's mind. We are fortunate that the Speedway is allowing us to bring in coolers and junk as usual. They did glance inside the plastic bag I carried as I entered.
Although tempted to jump in to Stand E as soon as we entered the track, we pressed on into the infield. We wished to experience the F1 cars this year from the viewing hills inside the track. You have to get in line to cross the track via a bridge. Here is a picture of people waiting in line to enter the infield from my vantage point atop the bridge.
The F1 cars came out as soon as we made it to the hills. The hills were arleady full and we were relegated to the bottom. Apparently the infield is a popular place, as the stands were not very full.
Due to some tobacco laws, the Jordan team cannot display their sponsor name - Benson n Hedges. Last year their cars said Buzzing Hornets. This year their cars said Bitten Heroes. I understand this is in deference to the hundreds of fire fighters who were killed in the World Trade Center attack.
The practice lasted from 10am to 11am. As the practice progressed, we gradually moved around the hills, working our way to the apex of turn 9, where the fence was out of the way for photographers:
Once practice ended, we waited for the majority to exit via the foot bridge over the back straight, and then we left. As we walked by the museum, I saw a Ferrari F40 in the parking lot. Wow, I'd never seen one of these quarter million dollar cars before. Awesome. I found a coffee stand nearby that had Lattes and such, and I was able to get a good cup of coffee for $2.75. Later in the day I bought a cup from a Speedway stand for $1, but it was instant and horrible and I had to throw it out.
Along with Bridgestone, Michelin supplies tires to Formula One. Here, you can see their mascot taking a break. Thanks to Lester for this photo!
We all proceeded through the tunnel that leads to the outside of the track and 16th Street. We then walked down to the SouthEast Vista and climbed the stairs to sit as high as possible in the SE Deck. This was another new spot for us to watch the F1 cars. We had a good view of them coming out of the infield and entering the oval. They really don't get back onto the oval until the middle of the south Short Chute. In the following 3 pictures, you can see what we saw from this angle.
Looking to the right as the cars are finishing the infield.
Here's a Zoomed in photo of same spot
This next photo is the view we had looking straight ahead.
You can see the tents and displays over by the museum plaza. Jay had not really wanted to go along with my plan to check out the views from these areas that we missed last year, but after sitting in these places, he was glad we had.
It was windy and cold up there at the top of the deck and Jay was regretting his choice of shorts and a tee today. Here is where the cars reenter the oval.
When we looked behind us, we could see this gas tank:
The camper in the lower right shows you the scale of this paintjob.
After the 2nd F1 practice was over, we walked back down to the museum area to explore the displays. SAP and Mercedes had stands for promoting their products. Lots of Ferrari merchandise for sale. My friend Jay went loopy and bought a red Ferrari flag, shirt and hat. Ferrari gear looks great, in their bright, almost neon, colors. I also liked the blue & white BMW and yellow Jordan gear. However, since I root for Villeneuve, I was left with drab olive of B.A.R. I not only didn't like the color, I didn't like the design, so I passed on buying any BAR shirts. I would have shelled out the $30 for a BAR hat, but they are not allowed to put the round Lucky Strikes symbol on the hat -something to do with tobacco laws, so I passed. I saw lots of people with that hat, but they'd gotten them in other countries. Its quite obvious that there is a huge number of people here from other countries.
One tent was filled with people watching a large screen of a video game. In the midst of the people, was this video game car and evidently everyone was watching just this one fellow playing a driver simulation.
There were some other stands where people could play Sony playstations, but we didn't do that. We walked down toward the garages where the Porsches and Ferraris were kept.
As I walked behind these garages, I had to pass through several crowds who were standing around near some entrances to the garage area, presumably waiting to see a driver. As I walked along, I practically bumped right into Craig Pollack! I half turned to my friends to point him out, but they didn't know him. If you don't either, he is Jacques Villeneuve's manager and the guy that runs BAR.
We sat over in the tower terrace for the rest of the day. We arrived in time to watch the historic F1 cars. These racers were 60's-80's Formula One cars. They raced around the track at decent speeds for awhile.
We did a lot of walking and we saw a lot of sights. It was a good day.
On Saturday, we went golfing early. We finished in time to make it back to my house to watch F1 Qualifying. Villeneuve did horrible and Schumacher easily took the pole. We did not go to the Speedway today. I had things to do that afternoon. About 6pm, as Brian, ET and I started to leave for the Farm Aid concert, Jay's girlfriend, Betty, showed up. So we all finally got to meet her.
The concert was at the Verizon Music Center about 35 miles from my house. We were shocked to find them giving everybody full body pat downs before letting them inside. We got there in time to hear Dave Mathews. The place was sold out and packed. We found a spot in the lawn to stand and watch. Next, John Mellencamp came out and put on a great show and played for a long time. Neil Young came out and played some slow stuff that the crowd did not like. Willie Nelson showed up later and we left during the middle of his show. F1 race tomorrow!