There are not too many words that can express the feeling of watching a Formula One race car zip pass you at speeds of over 200 mph. Last week in Austin, TX at the Circuit of the Americas, I was blessed to be a part of what I consider a life changing event.
I have always wondered just how it would be to hear the roar of those mighty engines in person and to see the cars up close and personal. Thanks to the great people over at BlackBerry and Mercedes, I was provided with an all exclusive pass to the 2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. An amazing day it was starting early around 7am with a breakfast buffet at the beautiful Hampton Inn, downtown Austin.
From there we made our way into the BlackBerry VIP lounge to pick up tickets for the event. The lounge was very relaxing and the atmosphere was electric. I cannot express enough on how BlackBerry knows how to treat its VIP guest, top notch service all the way around. Not only did we receive our tickets, but we also were treated to a beautiful Mercedes AMG PETRONAS backpack filled with goodies.
Around 8:15 am we begin to board our shuttle bus to the track. I haven’t been on a coach bus since my younger days when my father used to drive for Greyhound, so it was very nice to once again ride on a coach bus. The ride to the track took about 25-30 minutes due to Austin’s terrible morning traffic. They had several television monitors on the bus to keep you occupied but most of us ended up snapping pictures and socializing with other. We arrived at the track around 8:45am and it was foggy and gloomy looking. The forecast for the day was clear with a high of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit so I knew this fog would burn off soon. You could now start to see all the people parking and walking making their way to the track. They had several car valets and shuttle services going for those who were fortunate enough to afford those services.
We finally pulled in around 8:55am and exited to coach. As I exited the bus the excitement began to build up inside me as the sun ever so slightly began to make its way through the fog. You could now see clearly, all the people making their way into various gates at the race park while shuttle services continued to move people to and from. Our group then had to walk about a short distance to our shuttle area so we could be taken to the entrance of the Formula One PADDOCK Club entrance. As we waited on shuttles I began to start taking pictures of the beautiful stadium with my Q10 and Z10. The stadium was enormous and built very well. The Grandstand was as grand looking as it could be towering over the track like a giant. I also was able to get some decent pictures of the race fans that lined the field viewing area and the Grand Plaza from a distance.
We were able to load into our shuttle about 5 minutes later making our way to the PADDOCK Club. As we made our way through the park, you could now start to see just how big this event was going to be. You had several security and police working the area as well as the park employees. Everything seemed in order and ran smoothly as we finally made it to our destination.
Once we exited the shuttle you could hear the engines begin to roar and I mean roar. We made our way to the first check in spot as we had to sing our waivers and get our tickets stamped. We then were escorted into the main gate entrance were they put on our purple Formula One PADDOCK Club wrist bands. At this point I really started to feel VIP. We then made our way through the security check point and into to the main foyer of the club. When I say beautiful folks, I mean this place was laid. I started taking pictures of everything I could, from the paintings on the walls to the flower petals in the water fountains. We then had to make our way up 3 flights up steps to the 3rd floor and by the time we reached the 3rd floor I was pretty much exhausted. Now I know that’s a shame but hey, I’m not as in good of shape as I should be. Once you reached your floor, they had servers there with lemon water and orange juice, now that was a blessing and I quickly grabbed a glass of lemon water as I was in dire need of some fluids after them stairs.
We then began to make our way to the Mercedes AMG room, escorted by a BlackBerry representative. As we walked down the corridor on my right I could see the observation tower. Now this building was very tall standing over everything 250 ft. I was in awe of its stature and size and was just plain old blown away by it. I stopped and took a couple of pictures of the tower and then proceeded to catch up to the group. We then finally made it to the Mercedes AMG PERTRONAS room and were greeted with a warm welcome reception from the staff. We all had to sign in our tickets and then received a gift bag that contained some ear plugs, magazines, pictures of the Mercedes-BlackBerry race team and race track information.
We then were escorted into the main room greeted by more of the staff. They had this place looking so wonderful it was amazing. Each table had its own bottles of wine, water and champagne all on ice and ready for consumption. This was a beautiful elegant setting well put together and one that I will never forget. I made my way to a table closet to the observation window and close to a wall plug. From this view you could see the seating area directly on the other side of the track.
I began to put away my personal items while brain storming on which BlackBerry device I wanted to use primarily for capturing photo’s. Well I decided to use all four, the Playbook, Z1O, Q10 and Dev Alpha C (I love the camera on that device). After getting the Wi-Fi pass word and drinking a couple of glasses of orange juice, I decided to put on the ear plugs and make my way to the viewing area outside. Once I made my way outside all of a sudden it hit me, I was really at a Formula 1 event live and in person. I took a couple of deep breaths of that crisp morning race track air and immediately started taking photos.
After taking some photo’s I was startled by what sound like thunder. I took a look over the rail as we were right above pit lane and that’s when that beautiful Mercedes AMG race car took off out the pit area like a jet. Explosive as it was the adrenaline then began to pump in my system. About 1 minute later you could see some of the other race cars begin to pull in and out of the pit area one by one. These cars were so loud that the ear plugs did little to reduce the noise level. You could now start seeing the excitement in people’s eyes and body language as the realization of what was about to go down was real. About 3 minutes later after the last car pulled out of pit lane, around the final curve prior to the main straight away along came a formula 1 race car accelerating at a very high rate of speed and zoomed right passed us. When that happened I just started screaming, Holy Shit, Holy Shit! The cars engine was so loud as it went by it shook my soul eternally. I have never in my life witness anything like that with so much power and speed it was mind blowing. One by one various race cars continued to blow past us at phenomenal speeds as all you could do is move your head from right to left.
After getting my fill of watching these race cars zoom by us we were then escorted down to the pit area. In the pit area they showed us all the details and what is required to run a formula one race. It was very detailed oriented consisting of a team of 15-20 crew members. They had people on computers analyzing car data, mechanics and all other sorts of detail positions. We then were able to see the different parts of the car and how they put it together. They also let us go down into the actual garage pit were the cars were actually being worked on after the 1st morning practice runs. It is amazing just how much it takes to have a car race in formula one.
By the time we were finished with the garage tour it was lunch time as we were feed very well. They had a buffet line with 2 chefs that offered variety of delicious foods and deserts. After lunch we were able to go on the pit walk which fans were able to walk the pit stop area view and take pictures of all the teams’ cars and garages. That lasted about 45 minutes and then it was time for the racers to start the final session of the day.
We made our way back to the Mercedes club house and continued to enjoy the rest of the race for the remainder of day. It was now close to 5pm and our time at this wonderful event had now come to an end. I must say that this was a day that I will never forget in my lifetime. If you ever have a chance to go see Formula One I would suggest you do. Unfortunately I was unable to personally meet Nico and Lewis but my overall experience made up for that.
I would like to personally thank everyone from team BlackBerry for allowing me this opportunity. I would also like to thank the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team for their hospitality and the entire staff at the race park. I had a great time and look forward to doing this again.
Check out the video below done with BlackBerry 10’s built in video editing app called ” Story Maker “.