Formula 1

Must-See Macau

Macau is a 1.5 hour ferry ride from the terminal in Hong Kong, and it’s worth a day trip.  Everyone knows about the lavish casinos and the huge party town (it’s like the Vegas of Southeast Asia), but here are three must-sees – aside from the glitz and glamour – that will make your Macau visit even more fun.

Old Town Macau

Check out the fortresses from when Macau was a Portuguese colony.  See the architecture, take in the decidedly European influence (there’s even a Port wine museum!), try to figure out street signs in Portuguese…

One stop for spectacular views of the city is the old fort, Fortaleza du Monte.  It has panoramic views and really shows you the dichotomy between Old and New Macau.

IMG_20150910_120725065_HDR-PANO

IMG_3522

The cannon is pointed directly at the casinos….hm….

IMG_20150910_121546203

The Ruins of St. Paul are right next to the fort, and are gorgeous.

You can also see the Chinese influence that still hasn’t will probably never go away, in the forms of older temples and shrines, and even more modern propaganda in the form of the 1950s Mao posters in every store.

IMG_20150910_131343911

Pandas!!!!!!!!!!

Did you really think I’d skip the pandas?  Come on….

There are two pandas in Macau, and they are awesome.  The panda park itself is interesting – it has panda EVERYTHING (so it’s basically my version of heaven), and you can watch them till your heart’s content.

IMG_20150910_142551425_HDR

These were absolutely huge awesome pandas made from carnations.

If you catch them on a good day, they’ll do flips and entertain you, but on a bad day, they’ll just stay in their little cave area and not come out.  Luckily for me, it was a good day, and I got to see it up close and personal.  Now if only I could figure out how to get one home…

IMG_3588

 

Grand Prix Museum

I realize this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a really short museum and if you like cars or appreciate it at all, it’s worth a trip.  Inside, you will see Aryton Senna’s car and race suit, an entire wall devoted to Michael Schumacher, and various other cars from other forms of racing (Porsche, BMW, even Toyota).  It’s a throwback homage to the days when racing was insanely dangerous, drivers were rugged men, and parties were wild and debauchery ran amok.

IMG_20150910_105027280IMG_20150910_105043237_HDRIMG_20150910_105135029_HDRIMG_20150910_105816386

And if the Museo du Gran Prix isn’t your thing, the Port wine museum is right next door. Cheers!

Advertisements

It Is What It Is

A few days ago, I finished David Coulthard’s autobiography, It Is What It Is. I actually hate this phrase, and David Coulthard was never really one of my favorite drivers (sorry David, Michael Schumacher had my heart).

Now, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked up this book. In fact, I probably would have opted for a Senna/Prost book, except, last year on Saturday night’s FanFest at Austin, I got the opportunity to meet him (yes he’s RBR, I know), and he even flirted a bit. He *was* the premier Ladies’ Man of Formula 1 in his heyday, after all. He also squatted down a bit, so as not to tower over me in this picture, which I thought was both hysterical and considerate, since he’s actually quite tall. 

Image

That’s right. Me and DC.

After which, I decided to go out and buy his book. He was always the guy you wanted to be in the video games anyway. Granted, it took me 6 months to order it, and I only spent $5.99 on a used copy, but who is counting. I still purchased and own it. Of course, it took me another few weeks to open the cover and get through Ron Dennis’s foreward, but once I was a chapter or so in, I was hooked.

I will admit that while at first I was turned off by the narration style, by the second chapter I really started to enjoy it. Of course, there were a few eyerolling moments, like when he talks about what a privileged life he led, and how his family was able to support his racing because of their giant trucking company, but there are also really excellent moments when he speaks about how he kept everything clean (scrubbing toilets came up more than once), and how he really is just a simple Scottish boy. 

The other thing I found interesting is that while it’s not a tell-all, it’s got some chapters and parts where there’s a deep dive into the politics and team orders of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Things about Ron Dennis, and driving with Mika Häkkinen, and going up against Michael Schumacher, are really quite poignant and revealing. In fact, one of my favorite quotes:

There are other things that were quite interesting to read about – when he speaks about his wife Karen, and his eating disorder, and how much he likes Jenson Button (who doesn’t?), and how joining Red Bull was a gamble, but one that’s paid off quite well. Also, talking about technology, cars, politics…it was a view into F1 that I knew about, and could imagine based on my own foray into motorsports, but really had no idea of the intensity.

It’s a solid read, especially if you love Formula 1. For me, it humanized that driving great in the picture above, and when they become more real, it makes me think that my dreams of racing aren’t so far off. 

It’s Here!

A month ago, I won a contest run by the Sauber F1 Team on Twitter (after many, many, many, many attempts to win anything at all). My prize was a copy of F1 2013, the game for Playstation 3. 

After weeks I began to lose hope, that perhaps it had gotten lost in the mail. I’ve been sending things overseas and having them never reach their destination, so maybe it’s the same thing….?

Luckily for me, Swiss Post seems to be better than USPS (even if it did take a month).

Behold! A real prize from a real F1 team!

I cannot WAIT to play it! Of course, I’ll have to unhook the PS4, re-set up the PS3, and kick the guys off playing COD Ghosts, but that’s a battle I’m willing to fight 🙂

Heels on Wheels

If you’ve read any part of my blog, you know I love racing, cars, and Formula 1. You also might know that I’m a girl (let’s hope you figured out the latter before the former). If you combine those two nuggets of knowledge, you should be able to figure out that I’m a woman in a man’s sport.

Circuit of the Americas had a competition to win a prize pack worth $20,000, for the upcoming US GP this weekend. Awesome seats, travel and accommodations, a super-exclusive dinner, meet-and-greet with the drivers, paddock passes, the works. To enter, all you had to do is write a 500 word essay on why going to this race is on your bucket list. Despite the fact that I already had tickets, I wanted to enter the contest – because who doesn’t want a free upgrade, and this was the ultimate upgrade.

Image

I spent a lot of time on the essay – more than I should have, I think. I spent more time on this 500-word contest than I did on many of my 5,000-word college papers. I tossed around ideas, which was a giant challenge, especially since I attended the inaugural race last year. Finally, I came up with a unique angle that I thought was creative, would definitely wow the judges (which was explicitly in the contest description), and make me stand out from the hundreds of entries about “I don’t have money and it’s my dream to go to Formula 1” and “I am in love with [insert driver name here].”

Halfway through the essay, something in the back of my head told me to read the contest rules. After a lot of fine print regarding what an eligible entry actually was (no plagiarism, no computer-generated stuff, words actually have to make sense), and the description of the whole prize pack, and how it’s for you and a guest, I stumbled across something that really left me surprised: The contest winner would be determined by random drawing from all eligible entries. “Random drawing?!” I thought. Here I was, sitting at my computer, putting all this effort into this essay, and it wouldn’t even matter what I was writing about. I felt a little jipped, and like maybe I was wasting my effort – that statement halted my progress for about…three minutes.

I decided to continue writing the essay, as I originally intended, because while developing the thesis, talking about my memories from childhood, and my progression as a driver, I realized that my “angle” was actually a lot closer to my heart than I had originally thought. As I put the finishing touches on my essay, it finally hit me – this wasn’t just some “angle to get me to stand out.” It is a lot more, and means a lot more than that. I saw how a trip to the 2013 Austin GP is actually on my bucket list.

My pregnant sister-in-law just found out the sex of the baby. I told her I didn’t want to know yet, but she immediately sent me a picture of a crib with a race car motif. “You just gave it away!” I exclaimed – until she reminded me that in our family, race cars are gender-neutral. And it’s true. But sadly, that’s not how it is in the real world.

Even though she and I are dedicated to racing, we’re very much an exceptions in this male-dominated sport. There are a handful of women in my region, and just a few hundred that participate nationally, out of 55,000 Sports Car Club of America members.

Driving is my passion. As a kid, I was found under the hood, playing with spark plugs, while my dad did tune-ups. I started driving at 10, and learned on a manual transmission – controlling the beast was exhilarating. Fast forward another decade, and I’m putting the finishing touches on my very first engine assembly, installing it, and turning the crank. I joined the SCCA, and it became an all-consuming hobby. I compete more than 30 times a year, mentor novices, and organize events. There are tires in my bedroom. When faced with prioritizing racing versus…well, anything, racing always wins.

On the course, I am inspired by women who vanquished stereotypes of their gender: Lyn St. James, Danica Patrick, Susie Wolff – all great drivers, period. When I started competing, I wasn’t sure that I could achieve the same parity with my male peers. At first, it was cool to be “the girl who simply tried.” I kept at it and became the “fast girl.” Now, after years of study, practice, and yes, trophies, I’m finally a “fast driver” – no “girl” qualifier required.

Yet there are still far too many female drivers who feel that no matter how hard they work, they will never be taken seriously in racing. I want to help change that.

Which brings me to my Bucket List. My big-ticket items aren’t crazy or daring; they are the ones closest to my heart. Living my greatest passion to the fullest – that’s what tops my Bucket List. And my greatest passion is being part of the motorsports world.

Driving is just one aspect of the racing experience. The heart and soul of racing is the community. It’s helping your teammates. It’s supporting other drivers, even your rivals. It’s cheering on the people you’ve never met and knowing you are a part of something huge, powerful, wonderful.

Nowhere in racing is this more apparent than at an F1 event. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsports, and attending the 2013 USGP in Austin, standing side by side with fans and racers, pros and amateurs, old-timers and beginners – all the while representing the women of this amazing community, and showing other women that they too can be an integral part of the motorsports world– there’s no greater joy that I can imagine.

The contest rules said they would announce the winner yesterday, so I’m pretty sure I didn’t win. It’s ok though – I’m still going to the race, and I’m really happy with recognizing that this sort of thing is important to me. Even if I don’t end up being involved in professional racing, I’m happy to work to be a role model for other female drivers, and I’m happy to be this girl:

Image

RIP Maria de Villota

“At the end of the day, my natural habitat is in a car and I am happiest in that environment.”

~Maria de Villota

Photo courtesy of telegraph.co.uk

I woke up today and immediately checked my Twitter feed to see the results of P1 and P2 in Japan. Instead, my entire feed was about Maria de Villota. The first tweet I saw was actually Fernando Alonso’s, who had a RIP in there, and I immediately clicked on a news article.

She was a test driver for Marussia F1 team last year, and suffered a horrible accident where she lost an eye, and in all reality, was lucky to be alive. She was found dead in her hotel room in Spain yesterday morning, at the age of 33. Spanish police are saying natural causes, but that’s yet to be determined. In any case, it’s a very somber day and hopefully they’ll do a nice tribute on Sunday at the Japanese GP.

Photo courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Personally, I’m saddened by this news for a number of reasons. She seemed to be in very good spirits, continuing her ambassador roles and being a positive inspiration to everyone as someone that overcame tragedy and kept going. She was one of four women in F1, and was a wonderful example to all young girls that aspire to participate in motorsports. And she handled herself with grace and poise, before and after her accident. 

Formula 1, all women living in a man’s world, and everyone that loves racing has lost a special individual. 

There’s Only 1 Formula for Happiness

If you know me at all, you know I love Formula 1. 

Photo courtesy of avforums.com

I love Fernando Alonso, I love Nico Hülkenberg, I love Ferrari. I love the cars, I love the excitement, I love the glamour. I love the noise, I love the screaming fans….I just love everything about it.

Fernando Alonso: Come on, how could you not love that face?
Photo courtesy of planetf1.com

Nico Hülkenberg: He could teach Tyra a thing or two about smizing!
Photo courtesy thef1poet.wordpress.com

Last year, I attended my first F1 race, the inaugural race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken (not counting my own annual pilgrimage to Lincoln, Nebraska for the SCCA Solo National Championships, in which I compete). 

I was fortunate enough to be the lucky recipient of a garage tour with the F1 marketing director of Santander, one of the big sponsors of Formula 1. It was probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Seriously, it rivals nearly winning Nationals. Actually….no. It was definitely better. Being around pit stop practice, seeing the cars up close, the view of the track…Even when Kimi Räikkönen almost knocked me over. I kind of wish he had. What a great story THAT would have been! (PS, he’s really short.)

Pit stop practice at Lotus!

Standing in my favorite driver’s garage space….no he wasn’t there, but at least I got to see it all!

I’m heading back to Austin this year, for my second Formula 1 race, and while I haven’t been in touch with my contact at Santander, I am hoping and praying to be able to get in the pits again. I love being around all of this, and working in Formula 1 is my ultimate dream. But before that, I need to make some contacts. And to make those contacts I just need to get me some of these: 

Image

Photo by Dasha Kapustina

Someone reading this, help a sister out? Let’s make some dreams come true!

 

Cheers and Jeers: Why Sebastian Vettel is Booed

By now, the internet has been buzzing for days about the boo’s Vettel received in Asia. There are lots of blog entries, theories, news reports – and now here’s a another one.

Photo courtesy of literalf1.com

I’ll be the first to admit that every time I see that finger, I want to snap it off. And every time he takes pole, I feel little defeated, and with every additional win, a small part of me dies. I won’t even get into what happens when he wins more world titles. But my mommy told me to never boo a winner, and every good girl listens to her mother.

It’s not like Vettel is universally loved by all. In fact, the resounding roar when Lewis passed him right after turn 11 at the 2012 USGP was so deafening, I thought my eardrums were going to pop. Seriously, I couldn’t hear the roar of the V8’s over the sheer elation that Vettel was not going to win. But it’s not like he was booed when he took pole, or when he led most of the race. 

Actually, I was a little surprised to see Korea, one of the most polite nations in the world, booing a the reigning world champion. There was plenty of Red Bull paraphernalia in the stands, and he has fans all over the world. And it’s not like he’s that much more arrogant….is he?

So I started thinking about why they’d be so upset to see him there, and I have three theories:

  1. They’re jealous. Ok, yes, this is the most obvious and cynical reason. But he’s an attractive 26 year old German that makes more money in two hours than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. He has throngs of screaming girls and has arguably the best job in the world. Ok, yeah, I’m jealous too.
  2. They are actually Ferrari/McLaren/Mercedes/Lotus/whomever fans. I take it back. Maybe THIS is the most obvious reason. When you’re a fan of a sports team, or athlete, there is the inevitable desire to cheer when they do well, and jeer at the team or opponent that beats them. Maybe those booers honestly want to see someone like Fernando or Kimi or Lewis win. And I can’t blame them….
  3. It’s the Red Bull dynasty, and it’s oppressive (and boring). Think back, to all your history classes. The Chinese dynasties, the Russian dynasties. Eventually, there is dissent among the masses, and then revolution. Red Bull has dominated for the last three years, and so has Vettel. He’s like the King, with Horner and Newey as his most trusted advisers. And Webber is the popular relative he had to give a job to, but doesn’t really like, so he gives him the second-best of everything. And I’m sure the fans know that it will be very difficult to remove the king, but it would be nice to see someone else win a battle once in a while.

With all of this in mind, and while part of me agrees with each of these reasons, I still don’t know that it’s right to boo a winner. I mean, until the FIA proves the Red Bull car is using a cheater ECU, I’m going to have to assume that he just has the best combination of ability and car. And if that’s so,Mom wouldn’t be very proud of me if I participated in booing. So instead, I’ll just sit there and give him golf claps.