When _______ reaches out to you last minute, and asks if you’d like to come down to the Long Beach Grand Prix, there’s really no choice but to say yes. Not because you want to stay on their good graces, but because you know lots of people would kill for such an invite, and on some level it’d be insulting to them not to take advantage of such an offer.
And take advantage I did! Well, as much as I could. As it turns out, there is another level of credentialing that would have made the experience way more enjoyable as far as getting good photos, but now I know, and knowing is half the battle.
As for the access I did have, it didn’t exactly suck. I shot some decent photos, met a few interesting people, and touched things that gen-pop doesn’t get to touch, which makes any trek worthwhile in my book.
While I’m not sure if I’ll go back next year, I am sure that it’s an event worth checking out at least once. It’s worth hearing the roar of the cars firing up, feeling the pedestrian bridge shake when they go under it, and catching a whiff of the toasted tires when they’re brought to the paddock.
It’s even worth shelling out the annual salary of a Nike factory worker for a giant turkey leg, a mountain of fries, and cold-ish beers to share with a friend.
In fact enjoying a day at the races actually has very little to do with watching the race itself, after-all, the best seat for race viewing is on your couch, but that’s no substitute for experiencing it first hand.
What makes an event like this memorable is all the stuff going on in the periphery, like drunk people on “hover boards”, or a homeless guy kicking a port-a-potty.
Sure, watching a race on TV can be exciting, but being at the track is exhilarating, and if you enjoy racing, even in the slightest, you’ll want to know the feeling of being there. Whether that means going out to Long Beach, Watkins Glen, Bathurst, or your local dirt track, just go, savor the experience, and then decide if you ever want to do it again.
At least then you’ll know what it’s like, and the next time you’re watching a race on TV, the sights, sounds, and smells will come flooding back, thoroughly enriching the hours spent in your skivvies on the couch.