Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Four wheeled fun

 F1 Grand Prix Monza 2023

WTF you ask? Zio Lorenzo's a two-wheeled guy, whether motorized or pedaled. But he used to like watching car racing, only bailing-out on F1 back when they made 'em race on those awful grooved "tractor" tires many years ago.

He watched a time or two on free-to-air TV here in Italy but the races seemed to be boring parades with final placings determined more by tire management and ticky-tack penalties than actual racing skills. He didn't bother with the "mock-u-series" Drive to Survive but did have some interest in seeing the iconic Monza circuit at some point. And why not combine it with an actual race? WSBK races there but Heather has zero interest in motor sports so who can he scare-up to go with him?

How 'bout some Sicilian friends? Like Sergio and son Lorenzo, the two guys in the back of this photo? They talk about F1 a lot when Zio visits with them but never have seen a race live, in-person. When he proposed the Monza idea they said "You'll never get tickets" but when general admission tix were available their bluff was called and plans were made.

We met at the tour operator's hotel on Friday afternoon and made plans for Saturday. Zio wanted to walk around to see the modern and historic track, especially in places the drivers were slowing or turning, same as he did back-in-the-day at Long Beach, CA in the early 1980's when it was Andretti and Lauda putting on the show.

THIS is what Zio came for (above) and after Saturday his dreams were fulfilled and he let Sunday be for his friends - wherever they chose as a venue to watch the race was OK with him.

Sunday was race day! With Imola cancelled because of flooding in the area, this was THE F1 GP in Italy for 2023 and it seemed everyone was there, including a bunch of Italian govt. bigshots.

The boys chose this venue for the day, a spot along the back straightaway with a big-screen visible (sort of, due to sun glare) across the track. While it was difficult to see any real racing action or follow what was going-on, the "being there" part was unforgettable. While someone watching TV at home is probably more comfortable and knows a lot more about how the race is unfolding, they don't get the sounds, the smells or any part of the atmosphere of events like these.

It that worth the travel, expense, the walking from the bus to the track (and back) the broiling in the sun, waiting-in-line for overpriced food and beverages (though of course being in Italy the food was pretty good...and the beer was cold!) while never really seeing all-that-much, unless you coughed up the stratospheric price for a reserved grandstand seat?

Hell yes! Now Zio can say he was there when Verstappen made history with 10 wins in-a-row. Does he have to go back next year? Hell no! As they say - "Been there! Done that!"

Zio ended his adventure with a classic risotto milanese and cotoletta for dinner on Sunday evening before flying back to Sicily on Monday morning. 

Mille grazie to Sergio and Lorenzo (and Mauro Mondonico - that's him in front of Sergio meeting us for drinks on Friday evening) for a great weekend!


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