Thursday, March 19, 2015

My experience with live racing events

The past few years have been a struggle for me as the demands of school began taking their toll. I decided it would be nice to treat myself every once and a while, and for me that was to begin checking things off of my bucket list. My personal bucket list is various automotive events/races I have always wanted to go to. As luck would have it, Circuit of the Americas (COTA) opened in 2012 that would enable me to be within distance to a proper race track. In 2012 a friend and I decided to attend the first Formula 1(F1) event at COTA, which had been on my bucket list since the dominant days of Schumacher at Ferrari. I finally got to see a live F1 race, and one of my racing idols race in his last F1 season. The sound was extraordinary and the track itself was amazing, but for a true race fan, it was a bit disappointing. One really got the sense that an F1 fan was not the main focus, more so the well off or upper class were. It was a race for the people who wanted to be seen, and the true fans were left off to the side to fend for space. Access to drivers was nearly non existent, and getting nearly the cars was a pipe dream. I have since formerly denounced my fandom of Formula 1, for that very reason, everyday fans do not matter to them.

It is now 2015 and I just recently attended my 4th event at COTA, which was Pirelli World Challenge, but before I dive into that, let me go back and explain 2013-2014. In 2013 we went and watched the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), which was in its last season, as it was to be merged with the continental series. As it always has in its 15 years of being around, ALMS delivered quite nicely. I personally MUCH prefer Grand Touring (GT) class racing to any other form, because they are the most similar to the street versions they are derived from. If you know me, then you know my brand favoritism, and thus must know that I would be a fan of Corvette Racing. I followed Corvette racing from the start of their runs in 1999, and still do. In 2014 I went to see the United Sports Car Championship, which is the newly formed series after ALMS and Continental series merged into one group. Though the excitement from ALMS has yet to carry over to this new series yet, it was still a great event to watch. Better yet, both events also came with a bonus, the World Endurance Challenge (WEC) would also run a race that very same weekend, which is a special treat because it is a European league. All of these experiences were top notch, but the best part was the series' making the everyday fan feel at home. The access to drivers, cars, teams, pits, paddock, etc were unparalleled. I was able to get autographs from my long time racing idols, which I will cherish forever. As an engineering student and a gear head who long to be in this community career wise, access to these people to ask them questions and get feedback was phenomenal.

Lastly, is my most recent trip to COTA to see the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC). This series is composed of strictly GT class cars, no prototypes like ALMS/United has. Again the access was awesome and the racing was great. This particular series has gained even more traction lately as several teams are jumping from United and into PWC. I was able to meet two more long time racing idols in Johnny O'connell and Andy Pilgrim from Cadillac Racing and got an autograph for the collection.

Although the past few years have been tough, nothing takes the heat off like treating yourself to something special every once in a while. For someone like myself, that something special is enjoying the company of like minded people at an automotive or racing event.

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