Monday, October 26, 2015

USGP at Circuit of the Americas

Our big reason for being in the Austin area is to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTAS). Formula 1 is the BIG world championship car race series that travels the world. It’s the biggest, most expensive, most glamorous series of races ever seen. A single year of racing can cost over 50 million dollars. Movie stars, Kings and Queens, Sports and Music stars are just part of the crowd. The worlds highest paid sports person was the Formula 1 World Champion.

We love formula 1. When we gave up cable TV in San Diego we joined a formula 1 fan club so we could watch the TV broadcasts at Henry’s Pub in the Gaslamp District.

The US Grand Prix has been held at many venues over the years. Watkins Glen and Long Beach spring to mind. Modern tracks are specially built to hold the races in order to meet the strict safety requirements. COTAS was built about 5 years ago.

Watching last year’s USGP on TV we realized 2 things. That the 2015 event was going to be on our wedding anniversary and that we’d be on the road doing our full time RV trip.

We called the ticket office and made reservations.

They offered us a package deal in which we could stay at the hotel on the circuit for 3 nights have dinner with the drivers, sit in the VIP grandstand and a whole bunch of stuff. Perfect. Except it would be $3000 dollars a ticket. Yes you read it right THREE THOUSAND A TICKET!

Having got back to reality we worked out that we could camp at the circuit (dry camp only), sit on the grass and watch the races for only $400! Well it was going to be our anniversary so we treated ourselves. Then we got an e-mail that Elton John was going to be putting on a concert exclusively at the circuit after the race and it was included in the admission. 
Cool we like Sir Elton.

We dropped by the track to scout out the gates etc., before we headed over to San Antonio. Everything looked good and straightforward.
On the day before we were due to go there we got an e-mail from them saying that due to forecasts of rain we could get in at 8am instead of noon.

The day came and we woke up to RAIN! We got lost, missed the turn, had to argue with them that we weren’t going to park the rig on a steep slope and eventually got a fairly level spot. And it had stopped raining.

But not for long.

Friday morning we woke up to steady but persistent rain.
They say that Eskimo’s have 100 different words to describe snow. Well us Brits have a few words to describe rain! One of my favorite lines to spin in the US is to sit or stand outside in some really miserable weather and say to my US friends “This is just like a pleasant summers day in England”.

Well there were LOTS of Brits here this weekend and a Brit won the event! Maybe all those damp, soggy souls just attracted rain?

I know when our friends Doug. Lyn and Daniel came to San Diego earlier this year we had the wettest July in history, Other British friends and relatives seem to bring the same results. When we live in San Diego and no Brit friends are close by? A 10 year drought!

I’m just saying, not blaming OK??

So we went to watch the races. Except the races, the practice sessions, everything was rained out on Friday and most of Saturday. So we sat in the rig and watched replays of previous races on the big Jumbotron screen inside the track and used binoculars to read the titles!

Sunday morning it was still raining but by 2pm when the big race started it had just about dried out and being Formula 1 they actually race in the rain, so sat on our camp chairs and watched out favorite driver Lewis Hamilton win the race. By doing so he also locked up the 2015 World Drivers

It's not easy taking pictures of cars going 200 MPH on a dark rainy day!!
Championship for the 2nd straight year.
And afterwards we drank beer and wine and watched Elton John perform. COOL!!

Monday came and it was time to see if we could get out after so much rain. We watched on Saturday as many cars were pulled out by pickup trucks, the grass parking area had turned into a swamp.

A dry night and some sun might have improved things we hoped. I walked around and although the ground was more solid it didn’t feel that good. As soon as I tried to move the rig it just spun the tires and dug in. Mercifully the organizers of the event had laid on a tractor to pull people out and they got us out easily. A couple of big 40’ diesel pushers were in solid though. They then called a big truck towing machine in. That got one of the rigs out but the other one was pulling the tow truck in with it instead of coming out.

We left before we saw if they eventually succeeded and stopped on the way the San Antonio to empty the tanks at Camping World.

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