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Grand Prix of Brazil 2006
Friday October 20th. First day at the track! :) Day 4 of the trip.

6:30 am. Rise and shine!  It's a fairly decent day, a few clouds but mostly sunny.

7:20 am. Gather my belongings, take the Friday ticket out of the safe and head down to the lobby to meet Michel.

Michel has arrived in a Taxi as his car is in the shop, and is waiting with the cab just outside. "Bom Gia" (I've learned that it is correctly spelled Bom Dia.) Good morning! We jump in the taxi and head off to Interlagos.

The traffic is not too bad at this time of day, but still have those crazy "Moto Boys" (Delivery boys on small 125cc motorcycles). These guys have no brains! They drive between cars at the speed limit when the cars are stopped in traffic! Apparently there are a few of these guys killed each week. (Why am I not surprised!)

Anyway, Michel and I have time to catch up on things, talk about the upcoming race and who we think will win etc.  You know the same conversations everyone is having. :)  It is really nice having Michel in the Taxi, as he knows what the driver is saying and what to tell him, rather than me with my Pigeon Portuguese.

From the Hotel I'm staying at this year we take a different route, so I never get to see the Senna tunnel, on route to the track.

The authorities have actually organized the traffic better this year, so the trip in is much quicker and before we know it, we are at Gate 7 where we get out of the Taxi, Michel pays the driver 50 Reais (which reminds me I owe Michel 25 Reais. Ooops!) I'll get you next time Michel!

Michel has to enter in a different Gate, so we arrange to meet in the same place after the practice, or in the Pits if Michel can get in there.

Even the the electronic gates are in the right place, they are definitely better organized than last year. So much so, they won't let me in until 8:00 am.  So here I stand watching everyone around, when I here this English voice.  I turn around and there are two women from England, who are BIG Schumacher fans and made the Pilgrimage to Brazil because it was going to be Schuie's last race. They are going to be in the Orange Tree stand as well. So at least I know I will be able to talk to two people. :)

8:00 am on the dot, they start letting us in.  This year no problem with the electronic gate.  I stroll down the road through the tunnel under the front straight to the Orange Tree.

As I walk in the entrance I immediately recognize the big security guy from last year who wished me "Good Morning" on the Sunday morning.  I say "Bom Gia" and slide my ticket and enter the stand. I realize that all the security people are the same from last year and one of them recognizes me, and says "Hello", "How are you?" Now he never spoke English last year. :)

I walk around the corner to see if I recognized any of the staff on the Food stand.  Bummer! not only is there no one I recognize, but it's a completely different company as the concessionaire.  However, it is the same company as the one in the Mall I went to with Jose and Debora................so Cheese bread balls will be forthcoming. :)  But they are not open yet. I can't even get a cup of coffee yet. :(  So I decide to take a wonder around the infield to the F1 Village and behind the pits, just to see if there was anyone interesting.

Not much going on in the F1 Village. The Official memorabilia stand and the Ferrari stand are setting up. In the far corner is a magazine stand setting up, with three Brazilian beauties, one hands me a magazine and says something I don't understand. So I just say "Englaise?" She looks at me and says NO, then says "Free" "Oh! Obrigado" on reply and "Bom Gia", with a big smile from her and the other two they all say "Bom Gia".  Made my morning! :)  I'm easily pleased.  I open the magazine to find it's in Portuguese, so I put it in my Back-pack and head off to the backside of the Pits. Stopping for a coffee at the next open vendor.

The coffee is what I needed.  I take a walk further up towards the Pits and just hang around drinking my coffee.  Not much going on, the teams are arriving in their minibuses.  I don't really recognize anyone so I head back to the Orange Tree. These are a couple of pictures from just before I get back to the Orange Tree stand, outside the fence. In fact that is the Orange Tree stand you can just see the corner of on the left, with the white cover and blue seats. That makes this a different view of where most of my pictures will come from.

Michel manages to call me on my cell phone and tells me he has no opportunity to go into the pits so he will be going home after 2nd practice, but would pick me up at the Hotel around 8:00 pm to have dinner.

The food stand is open now so I have another espresso coffee and figure out where I'm going to sit as there is no allocated seating again.  I don't actually mind that, here in Brazil, because it's a small stand and every seat has a pretty good view.  Although I don't remember some of these poles in the way.  I think they raised the roof and had to add the cross bars, which do seem to get in the way a bit.  So that will be a challenge when the time comes.


There is not much happening. Well actually there is nothing happening until 11:00 am, which is the first free practice session.  Then nothing again until 2:00 pm, which will be the second free practice session, which lasts until 3:00 pm.  At 3:20 pm is the Pit walk I get to go on. A slow day to be sure.  But I'm going to enjoy it, after all, I'm in Brazil, the weather is overcast, with sunshine in the forecast and I'm at Interlagos for a Formula One race. :) (I'm actually hoping it rains for the race on Sunday)

I hear engine firing up in the Pit lane just behind me, followed by the howl of the V8 at full song coming down the straight out of the Pits.................the first Friday driver is on the track! :) I'm wondering if I will see any of the regular drivers in the first practice.  My guess is no.     But even I can be wrong :)                      And the cars with all the good-byes   Honda really went to town on Davidson's car.  Friday first practice is pretty exciting actually.  These guys don't worry about blowing an engine, so they are really getting after it.  Putting miles on the car, seeing how the tires work and last.  Sometimes it's as exciting as the race. 

I have a lot of pictures from Friday practice 1 and 2, but I'm not going to post them all.  There will be a link after the second practice session that you will be able to Click on and see all the pictures.  I have not reduced them or edited them.......because if I did, I would still be doing that and not getting this story done. :)

12:00 noon, first practice is over.  It's a REALLY exciting day! Nothing else happening until 2nd practice at 2:00 pm.

More people arrive, the Corporate groups.  Not quite sure who they are.  As they come through the electric gate they are handed the mandatory White and Pink shirt plus a Baseball cap. This Company has hired some girls to stand around holding flags.  Poor girls! It's not exactly warm at the moment and they look pretty cold.  In fact one guy even offered his jacket to one who was shivering, but she refused.

It's not too difficult to tell who supports who... The woman who is charge of the Orange Tree stand, never seems very happy.   Oh well! Still a little longer before the 2nd practice, so I'm taking a nap, as so many others are doing. :)

Wake up call! The sound of the first cars on track screaming down the straight from the pits.  BMW, Williams, Red Bull and Honda first out.

And as Steve Matchet calls them "Super Best Friends"   I think it's great to see the different lines they all try coming into the corner, to maintain speed and try to make a three corners into a two apex corner.  It's a great place to be on the track. There is a great overtaking opportunity coming into the first part of the corner. It's not the best picture, but you get the idea. The cars really get loaded up on the left side from through "Larange" and get quite a roll on the body. The rear left tire tends to look a little flat and as if it's going to come off the rim, while the inside right front is trying to leave the ground.  Which to me suggests a softer suspension setting than at a lot of other tracks. Check Jenson out here. There is about 15 minutes left in the session and suddenly there is a mass exodus of the two major Corporate groups.  Click here for all the Friday practice photos, there is quite a few. This is my "Artsy" shot. Normally we call it "out of focus" but the pro's say it's on purpose. :)

I am with the two women I met at the gate this morning, Jacky (who is originally from South Africa, but now lives in London and her friend [ I forgot your name please email me] is from Derby) are amazed that all these people are leaving so early just to get into the pits.  Last year it was nothing like this.  We had to keep asking when we were going to the pits, so I said, "There must be some Corporate thing going on, because the Security will collect us all and escort us to the Pits the same as last year." WRONG!  The women were right!

I take the time to go to the bathroom and when I come out there is no one around so I asked Security where everyone was and when we would be going, and they told me they had already gone...........????????

I head out and up the hill to the pits to discover there was a line, and at the beginning was the Corporate crowds. I walked around the corner and back down the other hill looking for the end of the line, and found Jacky and her friend. Who had also taken the same walk as me. While we are standing there, they tell me they had come out to the track yesterday and managed to get into the pit area and also had Michael sign a banner they had made.  These Girls are definitely Schuie fans! The banner said something like "Thank you Michael for 16 years of excitement in F1" with some pictures on it, plus now, Michael's signature.

We finally get to go into the Pit area.  I'm just giving you a link to the photographs I took while I was there. There is 192 pictures. Enjoy!

You can see from the pictures I spent a pretty good amount of time at each pit.  When I reached the Ferrari Pit, I am gestured to leave and go back.  I try to explain I need some pictures. Then this guy starts blowing his whistle and waiving me and everyone else towards the other end of the pits. As I walk back taking more pictures more security with whistles join in. These are the whistles with the ball in and are really loud and annoying! Even the mechanics expressed opinions about them. But they were doing their job. We were scheduled for 1 hour in the pits, and that is exactly what we got.  Last year, I think I spent almost two hours there.

I leave and head out to find a Taxi back to the Hotel.......................

When I get outside the gate it is just turmoil! Everyone all over the place! And it just looks like Busses on the street. I turn and ask a Policeman if he speaks English...."No"  OK so I ask "Aqui para Taxi" he looks at me a little strange and says "TAX?" Sie. (It is actually spelled Taxi, but they don't sound the i ) He basically tells me to stand where I am and hail a cab. So I wave at every cab going by.

Finally one stops, I jump in and give the driver a piece of paper with the Name and Address of the Hotel on it. He looks at and says "Sie" and away we go into the traffic jam. :) I realize this is going to take some time and just nod off in the back of the cab. I wake up a little while later, and the driver is saying something about me sleeping with a smile on his face. I guess I must have been snoring! :) Oh well! A few phone call by the driver and we arrive at the Hotel.  It didn't really take that long after all and the bill was 52.00 Reais, I tried to give the driver a tip but I needed change from 70. He saw I had two 1's in my hand and gave back the 20 and took the 2. I say "Tabien?" (That's OK?) "Sie". I get out saying Muito Obrigado (Thank you very much) and head up to my room.

Michel arrived at the Hotel at about 8:30pm to take me to his house for dinner.

I have to tell you, Michel's house is a "shrine" to F1!  Not only does he have the mandatory F1 wheel coffee table but the ceiling lights are F1 wheels with tires! There is a Benetton nose cone standing in the corner of the living room.  The living room also has photograph pictures (Large) adorning all the walls.  He is a F1 Fanatic as we all are.  He wanted to show me his collection of 1:20 F1 models, so we go into his office/den, where he has a glass cabinet, floor to ceiling approx. 8 feet long filled with completed models, but not just one of certain models, every variation of the car that was ever raced! One shelf is Ferrari's only and I don't think he has got into the late 90's with that collection yet. :)

Michel is on the left, and that's Alex on the right.

I am given a drink, it is a called a Caipirinha, by another friend of Michel's, who is also there for dinner. It is VERY GOOD! (It's basically a Brazilian Margarita)

Alesandro (Alex) was also at the house for dinner.  He was the A in AMD and Michel the M in AMD.  Alesandro produces all the masters for the ACE models. He is an artist and very picky about detail. He was very proud to show me the prototype of the Shadow DN9B Samson version.  Through Michel (as Alex's English is not vast) he explained the problems they had with the Lion decals, and being able to shape them to the contours of the body.  He showed me the prototype decals, 3 different versions.  The detail of the decals are incredible! Then he showed me the final version which will be included in the kit.  It is in multiple parts for ease of application, but it fits absolutely perfectly.  Sorry, no pictures, I am the first person to see these items before it is completed,  But I tell you...........these models are NICE!

Michel's girlfriend was cooking dinner all this time, and informed us that it was time to eat..  We sit down at the table and she opens a cupboard to get something and I noticed the cupboard full of more model boxes! I thought I was bad! Michel pulls one of the boxes down. It has a finished model inside it. He tells me they are the finished models he has nowhere to display yet. :)

The food was excellent as was the company. They are a fun loving group and many jokes were told across the dining table. In fact although every one of us is a F1 fan, the replay of the race was turned off while we ate dinner.

Time just disappeared and it was 1am before we knew it, and Michel was kind enough to drive me back to the Hotel.

All in all a GREAT! day albeit tiring. :)

Day 5 continues...... Quick Links Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6