Well as planned I got up at 6:00 am
(with the aid of the Hotel "wake up call"). Did the three S's....packed
the back pack, made sure I had some Cold medicine with me and pulled the
Friday ticket out of the safe and hung it around my neck. Decided to wear
my USGP jacket from 2001 and headed out.
As I walk passed the front desk everyone
says "BonGea!" (I don't know how to spell it, but that's how it sounds),
Out through the spinning doors of the
Hotel passed the Doorman, "BonGea!" I say and carry on to the Taxi stand.
I think the driver already knew where I wanted to go as he opened the door
for me and I said "Interlagos Por Favor." Damn I'm doing good with
Portuguese! :) He says BonGea, closes the cab door and gets in the drivers
The traffic is not bad at this time of
day, but this cab needed some new dampers and springs! "MotoBoys" are
flying down the roads as usual, ignoring all traffic rules. I am just
staring out the windows looking at everything going by. Oh Wow! there is
the tunnel dedicated to Aryton Senna, uniquely named "Ayrton Senna
Tunnel". I was unable to take a picture because my cameras were safely
packed away in my backpack. :(
There is this beautiful piece of artwork
(statue) I believe, representing a Formula 1 car, that could be mistaken
for a Dolphin. We didn't go through the tunnel though. Wish I had a
picture of it.
Traffic is beginning to build up as we
get to the outskirts of the City and the "Beep" "Beep" change lane tactics
come into play. Three lanes of "Bumper cars" not actually bumping into
each other, mixed with MotoBoys.
We cross over a river which does not
look too clean, I think it carries all the sewage going by the smell.
Across the bridge is the wooden sheds all stacked on top and next to each
other, all next to the river. Then a strip of shops, well
businesses of some kind all the way up the hill, with a couple of high
rise apartment buildings along the way.
I suddenly realize I don't know where
I'm actually going, my ticket doesn't tell me, and how to get the driver
to understand. Luckily there was quite a bit of traffic as we got closer
to Interlagos and I just said Aque! Aque! Obrigado! The driver pulled up
on the sidewalk! Only to be told by the Police to move and drive around
this little street. I look at the meter $42.00 Reais, I'm happy so I give
the driver 50.00. He starts to give me change and I say No! No! Obrigado!
He is over the moon! No one tips in Brasil. He handed me a business card
with his name on it and his cell phone so I could call him for a ride
home. Very nice, but how would I tell him where to find me at the end of
I walked across the street to the track
to find an entrance. It was obvious I was early as no gates I found were
open. There was also a lack of information as to where to go with certain
tickets. Finally one of the first gates I had seen looked like it was
about to open, so I figured I would ask there. As I walked up to the gate
the Police stopped me. He says something in Portuguese and I just answer
"You speak Englese", "No".
I pull out my
ticket and show him and shrug my shoulders (the international language
for "Where do I go?" or "What did I do?" Thankfully he understood the
first one. :) Took my ticket and went over to the gate and asked the
workers where to go. Methinks this is going to be
interesting............the cop trying to tell me where to go. :) He comes
over, hands me my ticket, holds up seven fingers and says "Setch! Setch!
Setch!" then points down the road. So OK I know the direction I have to
go, so I'll just follow the wall until I reach gate 7 or 777.
Sure enough it was gate 7. Still no one
speaking English. There were three parts to this gate and don't you know
it...it was the third one I was supposed to go in. It was still not set up
but they let me into the track anyway. The gates have a magnetic reader in
them so you have to swipe your ticket to gain entry. But as I said they
just let me in.
I walk about 100 yards down this road
under a bridge, (which I discovered later was the front straight and Pits
above.) to my stand :Orange Tree Club". They were still trying to set up
their electronic gate as well. There was no sign to say that this was the
stand so I ask and show my ticket. Once they realized I was a foreigner
they knew they could not explain anything to me. So they let me in. I ask
the security guys if they know where I can get something to eat and some
coffee. Nothing! Well of course they don't speak English, so I gestured
drinking and said "Cafe" in my best Spanish. They just pointed me around
the corner, where the food and drinks area
was still being set up. I'm dying for some coffee at this point.
There are these two girls at one end of
the counter trying to set up. They look up at me and say "BonGea" I return
the greeting followed by "Can I have some "Cafe"? Crys for help from
"Fabio". Fabio turns up and says
"Morning, what would you like?" "Coffee please I'm dying for some". He
told me they were not open but he could make me some espresso for now. 2
cups later and a little conversation with Fabio, I tried to pay. He said
come back later. This was only about 7:30 am. I left the Orange Tree Club
and went wondering to see where I could get to for photographs (the entry
gate was still not working yet).
I almost got up to the Pit Lane, but had
to show my ticket and was turned away. I stopped at souvenir booths to see
what was available and found that at least one girl could speak some
English. So I bought the mandatory T-Shirt and a couple of hats and went
back to the Orange Tree.
The gate was operational now. Security
motioned for me to swipe my ticket and come in. Unfortunately the gate did
not unlock! We tried three times. Then Security said "you leave" along
with motioning swiping the ticket. I'm positive he meant "Did I swipe the
ticket when I left" so I said No. He walks me around the gate to the
inside and motions for me to swipe the ticket as if to leave. The machine
beeps and the gate opens and OUT I go. :) Turn around and swipe the ticket
to go in.....Nothing! Everyone scratching their heads and chattering in
native tongue. Finally they ask for my ticket and send me into the stand.
So I get more Coffee. I am still the first person at the Stand. And now a
few of the workers want to hear me speak whatever language it was I spoke
and had a good laugh when I tried some of the Portuguese Fabio had tried
to teach me.
So while no one was around I decided to
figure out where I was going to sit and the best vantage points for
Photo's. The first pictures of the track where the cars first come into
view and then
follow round in
front of the Stand and trough
"Larange" with a panoramic view from
where I sit.
I climbed up to the top of the stands to
see what kind of view I could get of the last turn coming onto the front
and a picture down to the food counterNow
it's time to get ready for the first practice and see who else turns up.Well
I'm begining to find out there are no Ugly or Fat women in Brasil. :) But
lets see who's on track.
(My friend Alex said he
was enjoying the story until all the photographs on Day 3 and the story
stopped here!) It is still a work in progress Alex. :) Love to all the
girls; Karen, Tayla and Jasmine.
I had bought a new digital camera (Nikon
D70) after the MotoGP in Monterey, CA. thinking it would solve my problems
from there. WRONG! I still have to learn how to use it properly, so these
are the only pictures I deemed good enough. (Yes I deleted an extreme
amount!) I have since adjusted the eyepiece for my eyesight and learned a
few other things with it.
First practice was GREAT! To see all the
cars come out on there installation lap, no big deal, but after that
everyone seemed to drive for different reasons, which they were, for
The Toyota's were very twitchy on the
front end when they came into the corner right where the "Friday Drivers"
are as it had a few bumps as it shows in the Photo of Juan Pablo. :) All
other cars had the front suspension adjusted to absorb the bumps enough.
Toyota still had the front end pretty stiff all weekend.
As the session moved on it was evident
everyone was trying to find setup for speed. Each time past the drivers
were taking slightly different lines and braking at different points.
Michael was trying really hard very
early. I could see he was pushing to the limits. My guess he was working
on Aerodynamics and suspension setup. He entered the corner faster and
faster each lap and I could see it happen as he came around on the limit,
hit the white line at Larange and spun, Cheers could be heard from all
around at his misfortune. (pictures which did not turn out) But in true
Schumacher fashion, never hit anything and carried on without stopping,
silencing the crowd.
I was surprised to say the least, that the only things on
track for Friday were the morning and afternoon free practice. So here is
the lunch break. I go for another walk for as far as I can, which takes me
to the "Formula 1 Village". Not what I had expected, it was a BIG tent
behind these stands that were more
expensive than mine. These ones were in the region of $2,500.00 US.
The Village was a sales tent with "Official GP of Brazil"
stand, a Ferrari stand, a Petronas booth and another stand for Williams.
Not very exciting, except for the girls working them. There was this one
person dressed in a Ferrari drivers suit standing next to the Ferrari
stand having his picture taken with all these people that thought he was
one of the drivers....(Michael!) wrong!
I am still trying to get an official
Program, hoping that these 6" x 4" programs are not the official ones.
There was not even a schedule in them.
The sun had come out for a while and it was very pleasant.
I had to roll up my USGP jacket and strap it on my back-pack as I was too
hot in it.
I strolled back up the
hill to the Orange Tree Club and tried to have a chat (in PorSpanGlish)
with the staff at the food counter, indulging in more espresso and a
sandwich (which I thought I knew what I was ordering). It was not what I
wanted, but I could not loose face as I had ordered it right off the menu
"in Portuguese!". It was still very good.
I figured I still had enough time to stretch out in the
stand and have a little nap before second practice.
People milling about woke me up. Perfect timing for the
second free practice.
that Alex in the McLaren MP4/20
is the man running the most laps and FAST! consistently, you can see the
effect of the bumps in the corner. :) The others missed most of them
Alex taking a slightly different line avoiding the bumps,
Massa hitting them all (or is that me
making them!?!) and Luzzi,
Michael with a different setup,
Alex blurring speed again,
Kimi trying to catch him,
Alonso doing well, but did not seem to do
I think it's pretty
amazing seeing how the cars load up the left
side tires around this curve. You can see how much the left side tire
are getting depressed and the right side are barely touching the track.
Tako getting in plenty of laps,
Rubens trying to find the break away point
on the rear with the Bridgestone's, Jenson
playing catch-up. Ms. Friday not happy
with the proceeds, but then her sister
has a different idea. They were both very friendly and spoke some English.
It's now getting close to the Pit walk as the practice
session is over. I keep asking the security guys when the Pit walk is, but
I'm always asking the ones that cannot speak English (all of them!) :) I
finally get one guy that tells me in broken English that we would all
gather by the gate and they would call us when ready.
A large group exit and I ask "Is this it?" No not yet. So I
hang out with the food/drinks serving staff (My new adopted Family). Again
another large group leave. "Now?" I question. Not yet. Finally the
security guy comes over to me and grabs me and says "now". I was surprised
there were not very many people going on the pit walk.
That was a long slow walk all the way over to the Pit exit,
where after a little hassle we were all let in. Unsupervised! There were
no drivers on hand of course, but here was this guy again strolling down
pit lane stopping to have his picture taken with anyone that asked. Maybe
Ferrari bring him in as a guest to take the heat off Michael. I could see
the resemblance if I closed my eyes. The mechanics had some things to say
when they saw him walk buy, not very praising, but put big grins on their
What I found really
interesting was that although the bodywork on the cars is all very
Ferrari, it's what the teams
do to save weight at the wheels with the unsprung weight. Axles are quite
different in diameter after the threads, and the different construction of
the disc brakes for cooling.
I had been in the Pits for almost 2 hours and decided I
should probably get back to the hotel when this Brazilian guy came up to
me exclaiming "Filme!" Filme!" I thought, Who would go to pit lane and not
have any Film in their camera? He starts pointing at my camera, I say
"Digital", he exclaims "Filme!" again. I tell him "Momentito" "Un Moment"
while I take my back-pack off as I know I have some 35mm film in there. He
opens his camera and says "Filme!" again. "I know! I know what you want! "Calme!"
I have no idea if he understood. But at least he stopped speaking.
I pulled out one roll of film, Black and
White, no good. In another pocket there was two rolls of Kodak 400Max. I
gave him one and he stopped dribbling enough to say "Quanto?" "How much?".
I think I could have got his first born for it, but as the back-pack had
been through the airport screening I just "Nada". He was so happy! I hope
the film processed OK.
At the end
of the Pits was the Bridgestone tire area and they were working on Jordan
wheels. I stopped to have a look and a chat with the guys, if they would.
I'm looking at one of the wheels when I noticed a
second valve 180 degrees from
the other and more on the inside of the rim.
I interrupted the Jordan mechanics saying, "this is
probably a really stupid question for you, but what is the second valve
for?" One of them explained that there is another part to the second valve
so that on pit stops they can adjust the pressure up or down in micro
pounds, helping with the handling. Another laughs and says "Yeah! it's
great when it works!". Just then the Bridgestone guy comes over to the
Jordan Mechanics and asks "Is this the set for Helium?" they all take a
quick look around at the different wheels and reply "Yep! that's them."
I took a couple of
pictures and left, still with the question in my head that I did not
want to ask..."Are you serious, Helium?"
As I left the Pits Formula Renault racing series cars were
taking to the track right opposite the
Pit exit and one immediately
ran over the front wing of one of his competitors. And that was just
pulling onto the track!
I did not stick around for that as I had to get back to the
Hotel and then go out to dinner.
I made my way up to the street and managed to "hail" a Taxi
very easily. I was quite tired at this point and just showed the driver
the address of the Hotel. He said OK! and off we went.
At the main street there was a major traffic jam. The
driver turned to me obviously speaking in Portuguese, but also using the
international sign language, pointing at the traffic ahead and motioning
turning right at the light...I just said "Sie" and away we went to the
right. I got to see some different parts of the suburbs of Sao Paulo and
went through what must have been a fairly wealthy area. There was no
graffiti for about a mile and all the high rises were pristine. Before I
knew it we were at the Hotel. $47.00 Reais. I felt Great! I had just done
the round trip to Interlagos for $100.00 Reais instead of the $400.00
Reais the Hotel Taxi would charge.