Sunday, November 1, 2009


And so it was that yesterday--Happy Halloween, by the way--Mrs. Blog and I headed to the race track for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Our first impression: It seemed kind of unfinished. Lots of roads to nowhere, gravel instead of sidewalk and newly planted vegetation. But our shuttle bus dropped us off exactly where we needed to go, and we headed inside.

Our second impression: F-1 cars are LOUD. And high-pitched. A knowledgeable co-worker told me the engines run at about 18,000 rpm, which is ridiculous. And loud. Did I mention loud? Fortunately they handed out earplugs at the door.

We were close to the track, but not this close.

But despite the brutal power of the F-1 cars, impressive enough in its own right, I guess, the qualifying laps, Saturday's main event, just weren't that interesting. Probably because we had very little clue what was going on. An example: At the end of the last qualifying round, a car crossed the finish line and the stands erupted in cheers. Mrs. Blog and I looked at each other. Shrugged. And later learned that the pole had just been won in some extremely cunning fashion. Okeydoke.

The undercard race, a bunch of souped-up Porsche 911s, was much more interesting. And since our seats in the South Grandstand were right at the end of a long straightaway, we got to witness some jostling for position and spinning out. Good times.

Actual racing.

Outside of the cars going fast--and the beautiful company and weather--I have to say that I was underwhelmed by the track experience. The food wasn't great, but whatever... it's stadium food. Beer, though, you could only drink in the beer tent. Not in the stands. And there was a line several hours long to get into the aforementioned tent. And although there were volunteers all over the place, the operation wasn't very organized.

This was most evident after the post-race Kings of Leon show (which was great, and pictures of which I will post as soon as I have them in hand). There was a massive herd of buses waiting to take people away from Ferrari World, where the concert was staged.

But the vast majority of the buses, at least when we came out, were empty and not moving because they were lined up in a single-lane parking area. The buses we needed to get on were all the way back by where we had entered the track--maybe a mile from the concert venue--so we shrugged and instead of waiting on a bus for an hour we went to a nearby hotel for a cocktail.

And then, after paying a stranger to cart seven expats to Abu Dhabi in his shiny new Tahoe, we retired. Today we will watch the actual race on TV.  And tomorrow Abu Dhabi will return to normal.

Or maybe after tomorrow.

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