It would seem that I’m not the only one excited for the Abu Dhabi F1 Race this weekend. Check out Susie Wolff’s Instagram (but NOT AT WORK!!!!!) for a stopover in Dubai… With the big guys at TTAC unable to attend the F1 festivities, it fell onto my weak and thin shoulders to share my experiences at the Abu Dhabi F1 race with you, the B&B.
Thursday is still a work day and I am held until the early afternoon with two of my 6 cohorts for the weekend. So we get to the track at 2:45 by the time we park in our assigned area and catch one of the 100’s of shuttle buses. Roughly 50 flaggers guide us to our spot. They are all are Third Country Nationals, known as TCNs. Getting on the bus, we notice most of the others are exiting. They are all covered in Red Bull Infiniti gear. Bandwagoners.
The Shuttle bus drives around island and 30 minutes agonizing minutes later finally deposits us at security checkpoint. Its segregated security, ladies then males. I am impatient because the pit walk will close at 3:45. Some Australian D-Bag, possibly the first I have ever met, blatantly cuts in front of us. I love Aussies and have several friends, they are all awesome. How did you let this guy through? We clear security but have to walk across the track to the Pit Lane. I’m close but not there, we now have 30 minutes.
We are prepared to spent the weekend paying $10 for water, but they actually are handing it out for free at every corner of the walkway. Despite my compressed schedule, I detour past a Porsche 911 anniversary stand. Mommy, I’m home. After the distraction we press to pit lane. Two more security checkpoints and more scanning of our passes. No one notices my impatient glances at my watch.
At last, we make it to pit lane with 10 minutes to spare. Or did we? My two cohorts clear the last gate and a guard stops me. I am about to go Hulk Smash when he motions that a vehicle is driving down pit road. After it passes I am allowed through. I should probably calm down.
Ferrari puts on a show practicing tire swaps.
Up and down the pit wall, impossibly beautiful women and their perfume mix with the aroma of rubber and carbon fiber. We take it in. On the actual track, I lay flat on my back and feel the heat through my shirts. Others are literally meditating, sitting cross legged on the soft black tarmac. It is certainly a visceral experience.
At the end of the pit lane, we meet up with two others who made it and their new friend Sian (“Sean”). She is a lovely British National. She had to see the race, so she is there with her suitcase fresh from the airport. She is supposed to meet up with friends of friends for a place to crash this weekend, but right now over $10 beers, she is giving us a lesson in F1. She is very devoted.
Before they close the midway at 6, I elect to return to the Porsche display. Walking across the track at 5:30, the 2 safety cars are chasing each other on the track. An AMG Gullwing and AMG 6.3 wagon and I am mesmerized by the sound.
The track closes and we catch the bus back to my truck. We drive the truck to “Stars and Bars, a pub just across the water from the back curves. Unfortunately parking is reserved for the marina customers. We cross the traffic circle; “you can’t park here, but I am going to let you.” Then we catch a smaller shuttle van to the marina. On board we are surrounded by money. But outside, the uber-privileged are transported in Jaguar XJKs and Range Rover courtesy vehicles to their yachts.
In the marina restaurant area, there is a Maserati and 2 Jaguar displays. Our waitress is striking, her name is Alexiandria and she is from the Ukraine. It is still Halloween; so Freddy Krueger, a monkey and Power Ranger sit next to us. Dinner is $30 and we head to the marina. Welcome to the rich and aimless. Victoria Secret model-esque women in black dresses strut past private vessels the size of cruise ships. I question every decision I have ever made.
We walk around to the Viceroy Hotel and through the lobby past 2 McClarens on display to find a bathroom. But my cohorts are nowhere to be found. We make a phone call. John and Nick have crashed Bernie’s private party and are drinking Champagne. We follow them and are shooed away one from balcony to another. I am wearing shorts, Chuck Taylors and an old Porsche t-shirt. Bernie buys me three Heinekens before security takes notice. I should have kept my work clothes. Our cohort Chad sees three security personnel pointing at me. We finish our drinks. Thanks Bernie!
More to follow!