Days 19-21 Update

Day number 19 proved to be pretty bloody cruisey. Went to Mainz and sat by the Rhine River for much of the day at a pop-up summer time beach bar with Kathi, Andrew, Anne, Pete plus special guests.

Migrated to a local restaurant for dinner, where a single small schnitzel would have been sufficient for the entire table. Subsequently felt unwell.

Day number 20 started in Hofheim, before a train ride into Frankfurt for a dose of shopping, and more sitting at a beach bar, this one on the Main River.

Fast forward to the 21st day, and the collective asses were put back into gear.

Went for a cruise from Frankfurt-Höchst to Rüdesheim and back to Mainz.

Through a couple of locks on the Main River, the scenery really picked up once we cleared the industrial areas and made it to the Rhine River.

First was Mainz, then Wiesbaden, Eltville (where the wine street party was on Saturday night), Oestrich-Winkel, and our destination.

Some pretty awesome scenery throughout, especially in Rüdesheim, with its vineyards clinging onto the steep hills.

Caught a chairlift to the top of the hill where there are several monuments. Very nice.

Finished the day with a shop around Mainz.

Trip Day 19 – 21 Frankfurt Area

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Day 18 Update

So the Nurburgring. From Frankfurt, myself Jurgen, Frank and Bert headed off for the 1.5 hour drive west. Traffic turned out to be a non-issue, and we parked right next to our viewing area.

Let me say this from the outset, the Nurburgring has one of the strangest spectator arrangements I have ever seen.

Your ticket only allows you into the spectator area you have purchased, so there is no roaming around the track to enjoy the view. Secondly, to get around anywhere you have to check out of your area. It’s a bit hard to explain, but the spectator walk ways in many areas are right next to the track, but you can’t see what is going on. There is also a four lane main road going under the circuit, which remains open as a public road.

Another innovation is the ‘Ring Card’. It’s a lot like Ithcy and Scratchy money, in that it is just like real money, but more fun. The deal is that you load up your card before you go to a food/bev counter, so you don’t have to exchange coins there. German efficiency.

Like Silverstone, trackside concessions were very reasonable. Bratwust for €3, and a cup of beer for less than €3.

After the GP3 race, I set off to find the merchandise area. With none apparent in the spectator enclosure (we were general admission, in the run up to the last chicane, a DRS zone). Out on the perimetre road, I headed north. A while later in the town of Nurburg, many vendors had stalls set up on the main road, although they tended to sell old season stock, or cheap fake goods.

In the two hour gap before F1, Frank and myself set off the other way in search of… anything. About 30 minutes and a cut lunch later, we found the main merchandise area, which was on the outside of the track behind the pit straight grandstand. In reality it was about 400m from our spectator point, but because of the wierd way the joint is configured, it was much much further.

There were a heap of motor racing styled boutiques, and displays set up by manufacturers. The indoors concourse was pretty impressive.

Back just in time for the race, we were in a pretty prime spot. We managed to get four folding chairs into the track, despite them being on the contraband list. In fact there didn’t appear to be any bag checks at all. There was lot of overtaking and dicing that didn’t make the coverage in front of us, as we were directly across from a big screen.

We were also privy to the Marussia blowing up and rolling across the track.

One slightly baffling thing was the commentary, which was in German, English and French. My basic grasp of German assisted with lap counts and driver positions, but I flat out struggled with the French portion.

Compared to the British crowd, the German’s were a bit meh. Unlike last week where the entire the crowd went nutso for Hamilton on every lap, there was hardly an outpouring of emotion when Vettel won. More like a polite golf clap. Maybe he’s not that popular? It’s not like the crowd was all kitted out in supporter gear like they were seven days earlier.

At the chequered flag, Frank went off to get a refund on his Itchy and Scratchy money, after investing heavily in it earlier in the day. In the meantime, a fight broke out at the bar between some Brits over someone allegedly cutting the line. Germany’s responsible service of alcohol kicked in, and everyone was served an ale in good order.

Somehow we jagged a spot in the traffic queue leaving the track, and we made it home in surprisingly good time. Well played.

Trip Day 18 Nürburgring

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Trip Day 18 Nürburgring, a set on Flickr.

Day 2 Update

Sonoma Raceway- if it were in Australia, it would be right in the guts of the Barossa Valley. The place is unreal.

The thing that gets you is the sheer scale of the joint, it’s massive. It’s built into the side of a mountain, and they built another mountain on the other side, so it sits in an artificial valley.

As a punter, it’s excellent, there are great sight lines of much of the track from pretty much anywhere, but sometimes hard to get around due to aforementioned mountains. TV really dwarfs the place- they say there will be 90K people there on Sunday, and I believe it.

NASCAR also is massive. We might think V8 Supercars is pretty special, but we have nothing.

On NASCAR, and it also being a small world, I signed in at registration to get my pass (dur). Because the girl behind the counter was a Kiwi who used to live in Surfers Paradise with family in Gympie, I was issued with a paddock car pass. Epic victory!

Got to hang out a bit today with Marcos Ambrose. It was a pretty full on day, with very little spare time to catch your breath.

Starting with a media conference, Marcos was ferried to the top of a nearby hill to film the TV intros for the V8s to be shown in USA, then another TV bit in the pits.

Practice one was next, and Marcos set the quickest time with a mock qualifying run. It’s important because it means he goes out to qualify tomorrow with the four other quickest cars of the session.

The achievement was also honoured with a massive trophy. That’s right, for being good in practice, Barbie and her two daughters presented Marcos with a huge silver cup. Everyone’s a winner!

Got to meet Carl Edwards, who stopped by the trailer to chat to Marcos. He’s the same top bloke from the TV, and also outrageously funny…

Drove out through Sonoma, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more picturesque wine region. Light brown grass, bushy dark green vines, magic.

Found my way back onto the expressway, but the traffic was awful, so I took a detour out to Bodega Bay. The bay itself was pretty nice, but the outside where the Pacific hits the coast was amazing.

Stopped by the Boat House in Bodega Bay for Fish Tacos on the way home. Magic.

Nearly hit some deer on the side of the road, but I managed not to use them as an apex marker. Also on wildlife, a snake nearly slithered into me on the way out of the track. It was yellow and black, so I hope it’s good luck!

Finished the night by purchasing a six pack of 500ml beer for $5.99. I’m well ahead on the transaction.