Saturday, May 06, 2006

Thursday night had a few events. I showed up a bit late for the pit lane walk and the bus tours of the GP track but I got to watch a bunch of people take rides in "taxi's" around the GP track. They had nice cars from each F1 team's company and they were driven by the GP drivers, no Ferrari though. BMW had the Ring-Taxi's, Mercedes brought SLK 65's (I think, I'm up on my Mercedes models) Audi brought RS6's, Honda had 2 Race preped S2000's and Toyota brought a WRC Celica. I think there were about 14 cars total. I think I could have gotten a ride but I found out too late that there was a line. I thought they had some kind of lottery to pick people to go. Oh well.
Friday went well also. Parking was a bit of a pain but after I asked a couple of the parking attendents and found a lot that was open it was only a matter of a little walk to the track. I sat through part of the GP2 practice and all of the first F1 practice.
I was amazed how loud the cars were. I brought earplugs but I thought I wouldn't need them. When I could hear the GP2 cars from where I parked, a 10 min walk from the track I realized I'd need them. The F1 cars were even louder.
After the F1 practice I went to the BMW Sauber F1 Theme Park. If any of you get a chance to go it's VERY worth it. As you arrive they require either a ticket for the race or a BMW key (I think) for entrance. After you got inside they had "Umbrella Girls" putting necklace, with a card on it, on people and handing them earplugs.
If you havn't seen the pictures of the park it's shaped like an oval with a dogbone shaped track in the middle. The entire park is about 100 yards long so the track isn't that big. There are "garages" all around the outside facing the middle with exhibits in each. The first was an exhibition of F1 technology. They had a set of wheels you could pick up to see how light they were compared to a normal set of high performance car wheels. Same diameter, the F1 wheels were about 2 inches wider and the whole wheel weighted about a third as much. THey had quite a few different parts out of the car. The next booth had some huge helmets set up with seats for 3 inside and a short video to watch. The next was a quiz station with about 3 computers set up that had F1 trivia.
The next part was very cool. They had one of the F1 cars and a couple "Umbrella Girls" posing with the car and with people next to the car. The cool part was that before you entered they put a small, bout an inch in diameter, multi-colored circle sticker on your card on the necklace. The camera that the photographer here, and one walking around the park had were both wireless and sent their pictures back to a main server. A piece of optical recognition software looked at the pictures and used the circle sticker to match the sticker to a number on your card so you can go to the BMW-Sauber website and download your pictures. The roaming photographer was taking pictures of people all over while they were taking part in the exhibits and such. The next garage had 3 of the BMW race cars, Formula BMW, M3 GTR, and race spec Z4 Coupe. A cafe and interview area were next but I didn't stop at either, nothing interesting going on.
The last two garages had a pitstop challenge where 4 groups of 2 people would race each other changing a tire and two F1 car mockups set up as simulators. There wasn't any motion though, just surround sound, steering wheel, pedals and a big plasma screen.
While I was there they had two different driving exhibitions. The first was a Formula BMW driver who came out and did a few donuts in a Formula BMW car and then later Martin Brundil (sp?) drove on of the F1 cars and did the same stuff. It looked like he hadn't driven the track before though because he was a bit tentative, though I can't really blame him. Each end of the track was about 3-3.5 cars lengths wide and I wouldn't want to put an F1 car worth that much into the armco, especially with all those people around.
As of writing this I don't have the pictures downloaded from BMW yet but I'll see what I can do. I really hope they turned out well.
Afterwards I caught the second half of the Formula 1 second practice session. I sat in the Mercedes Stands for GP2 qualifying which was next. Nice view from the expensive seats. I went down to my seat in stand number 8 for the Porsche Supercup practice, and I do mean down. You really don't get a sense of the elevation change when you watch on TV. I think it'll be a great seat for the race Sunday. Before I left the track I wandered through some of the team booths again and got a bit to eat.
Sorry this message was so long but it was a busy day and there was a lot to write about. I probably even forgot something but I'll probably remember later. Until tomorrow.


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