Trackside

I went to the Grand Prix on Friday. I had an invite from one of our corporate suppliers looking to butter me up – and so off I toddled looking forward to the buttering.

I’m one of those people who takes to corporate hospitality like a duck to water. I’ve got a talent for any sort of hospitality really, but when it’s all laid on and it doesn’t cost a cent I’m in there quicker than you can say payola.

Friday was a bloody hot day. The sun blazed down. The wind gusted in hot blasts. The sky was blue, clear and unchanging. I went to work early and then made my way to the Albert Park course. I lined up with all the riff-raff going to the public areas before making my way to what they called the Paddock. Inside I was greeted by a blast of cool air and by a couple of attractive and smiling Qantas representatives who with a precise wave of the hand directed me to my suite.

Inside I grabbed a cool drink and wandered around before meeting the sole person I knew there. Soon I was talking to several others. And soon enough I was being back outside into the ovenlike heat for an inspection of the pit lane.

Waiting in line with us was Tara Moss, tall and skinny and pretty leggy, with a bloke a good 4 inches shorter than her. Nearby were some of the pit girls, pretty enough but very pubescent. They were about 15 and I wondered what sort of recruiting policy dictated that they be so young. It was probably a great adventure for them, but in my eyes it seemed wrong that these girls should be so dolled up and presented to the viewing public as pretty little addendums to the big event.

We strolled down pit lane taking photos while the cars screamed around the track. The noise is the most remarkable part of the whole event. Approaching the sound is high pitched, like a swarm of buzzing mosquitoes rapidly approaching; going away the sound has a deeper pitch. As they are constantly going around there is no escape from it, and the combination of high and low notes is a bit like a rowdy and discordant symphony.

Upstairs our suite was directly over the BMW pit area. Every now and then they would do something which sounded like a huge drill being operated. The sound was meaty, a ballsy grinding that was was felt as much as heard. Conversations paused, and the reverb went through the soles of your feet to the tips of your fingers. I felt like I was at the dentists.

Upstairs in relative air conditioned comfort – the air-con did struggle – I looked out over the track to the bank of seats overlooking pit straight. These are the expensive seats, overlooking the pit area and near the start/finish line. Maybe, but as they are facing the sun without any shade and with the heat reflected off the track and from the massive engines going around it must have been close to hell. The air temperature was pushing 40 – but in those seats it must have been over 50.

I turned from those thoughts to enjoy the gourmet buffet lunch, followed by cheese and nibbles. The conversation was good, the people interesting as over a wine we discussed the peculiarities of the travel industry. In fact the whole thing was pretty ideal, marred only by the noise of the cars going around the track. If they could do away with that it would be an almost perfect way to spend a Friday afternoon.

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