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Posts from the ‘Western Europe ’10’ Category

Where a hero died

Twenty years ago today, in the wee hours of the morning, I was watching the San Marino Grand Prix live on tv and saw my favourite racing driver suffer a horrendous crash. Read more

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Monza revisited

It’s the Italian Formula One Grand Prix this weekend and we’ve been reminiscing about our trip three years ago where I fulfilled a long-time goal of seeing a F1 race.

This was one stop on a month-long visit to Europe. I want to revisit the trip for this blog (original posts are on a private orphaned blog and I would like to rescue and consolidate the content over here) in more structured fashion, but I will dip into it now with this segment.

I started following F1 in about 1990 though drifted away a bit with the death of my favourite driver, Ayrton Senna, in 1994. Nevertheless, it was still an ambition to get to a grand prix. I was excited when our planning showed the Italian GP would work in with our rough timing and itinerary, as Monza is one of the most historic F1 venues. We were online as soon as the tickets went on sale, bleeding a little at the cost but this wasn’t a time to go ‘budget’.

I.am.here!

I.am.here!

Milan isn’t far away so that’s where we stayed, navigating our way to the track on both Saturday and Sunday.

Zoom view from our expensive seats to the end of the front straight. You can also make out the start of a banked corner on the historic circuit

Zoom view from our expensive seats to the end of the front straight. You can also make out the start of a banked corner on the historic circuit

The old disused circuit was another massive drawcard for me as I love ruinous and abandoned structures. I couldn’t wait to see the old banking up close.

A support class grids up for a race on Saturday

A support class grids up for a race on Saturday

When the F1s came out in dribs and drabs for a practice session it was one of those surreal moments to finally see them and hear them in their ear piercing glory (at the same time noting that I needed to find better ear plugs for Sunday).

The lunchtime rush... argh...

The lunchtime rush… argh…

In Mike's opinion the crush was worthwhile

In Mike’s opinion the crush was worthwhile

On the hunt for the old oval track

On the hunt for the old oval track

Found it! We would have walked around it further if not for the officious security people. Party poopers

Found it! We would have walked around it further if not for the officious security people. Party poopers

The track is incredibly steep - neither of us could make it up to the barrier. It would have been AMAZING to see cars race around here

The track is incredibly steep – neither of us could make it up to the barrier. It would have been AMAZING to see cars race around here

After some pretty heinous accidents, use of the banked oval ceased in the 1960s.

Another more visible section of the old track the following day, somewhere down the end of the front straight (the current track is on the other side)

Another more visible section of the old track the following day, somewhere down the end of the front straight (the current track is on the other side)

On Sunday the trains deposited us at one end of the track rather than the station, so we didn’t have to faff around with an additional bus but still had a lengthy walk to get to our seats. It was another glorious day though, any fears of our expensive tickets being a wash out long since gone.

While hunting and hunting for merchandise on Sunday we found tyres... no need for those wets this weekend!

While hunting and hunting for merchandise on Sunday we found tyres… no need for those wets this weekend!

By early afternoon Sunday the build up to the main event was underway. From our blessedly shaded seats we had excellent views over the start grid and the thronging crowds of race teams, drivers, media, marching bands, the very-well-looked-after punters up in the Paddock Club, and… am I missing anyone?… oh yes, the grid girls. Heaven forbid there should be a race meeting without them.

Our patch of the start grid

Our patch of the start grid

Among the stuff going on in front of us was a media scrum around Michael Schumacher

Among the stuff going on in front of us was a media scrum around Michael Schumacher

Formalities over, it was race time, and time finally to hear all the F1s together at full noise. Amazing. (And those new earplugs did the trick!)

It took a zillion goes to get a reasonable shot of a car down the front straight, between the fence posts no less

It took a zillion goes to get a reasonable shot of a car down the front straight, between the fence posts no less

It was an efficient race with no incidents so it finished well within the two hours scheduled. Ferrari did the ultimate and won at home, all the more significant as they hadn’t done too well in recent times. That was quite something to witness.

Ferrari win!

Ferrari win!

Ferrari win at Monza

Surveying the sea of red below

Surveying the sea of red below

We stayed up in the stands for the podium presentation watching the spectacle of the crowd invasion, the Tifosi unfurling a massive Ferrari flag and dancing and chanting under the podium. After a while we became invaders ourselves and spent a memorable hour or so walking around the track.

Just like ya see on telly!

Just like ya see on telly!

I hope that didn't go to waste

I hope that didn’t go to waste

Finish line!

Finish line!

Tifosi, Monza

As we near the end of our track walk, another fabulous view of the old track crossing above the current track

As we near the end of our track walk, another fabulous view of the old track crossing above the current track

My F1 initiation was complete.

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