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#1 jonpollak

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 22:23

Catalan Ramblings
Jp sneeks off to the Spanish GP
Barcelona 2004

So, after viewing Imola from my easy chair, the eternal optimist in me had envisaged a straw of possibility on the Prixmat, which meant that with some 15 days left before I trudge back to work, ....I find myself on an EasyJet to BCN Saturday morning. As is my usual tact, this will not be a race report but rather a continuance of my 35+ year sojourn of travelling trackside to attend 'Our Lady of 19000 revs' or whatever factitious formula and incarnation is in residence.
Just like in the 'real world, 'our 'religion' is in crisis. Our faith is in doubt. But these weighty matters are for the deities on high, the experts in the theology of compelling competition, not us plebs in the pews. We just need to soak up any crumbs of delight we can these days.

We came out of the clouds to the sight of the Pyrenees covered in snow. I had cut it fairly close, but as my £35 flight left on time, I arrived at the Renfe station across from Terminal A with an hour and a half till the qualifying session. Nice trains they have here in Catalonia. It's a rich and proud land in more than just tactile terms. The platform at Sants filled up really fast and in the crowd was a gentleman with that red paddock lanyard sticking out of the pocket of his freshly pressed white shirt. This turned out to be the account rep for Sonax, a German who spoke Catalan as well as Castilian and Italian. He had a wealth of information on sponsor duties and why certain companies like to associate themselves with the images portrayed by certain drivers.
"The best ones are those who are inaccessible to the rest of society because they offer something of fantasy to the target market....Also it's good if they don't talk too much, so they don't screw up their own image" As I absorbed this info the train was filling up at a rapid pace with fans. Sitting across from me was Seriphina and her mom. She kept making racing car sounds. Funnier still was the fact that they got out at Montmelo with the all the other parishioners and got into a FIA stickered car which awaited them while the rest of us headed up the crowded central promenade of Montmelo en masse. No shortage of hawkers and souvenir joints specially for the local hero and ..wait a minute,.. is that Matt Bishop pondering a purchase?

I then realized I was lollygagging in the atmosphere as time was moving rapidly towards the qualifying hour so I picked up the pace through the crowd and left our Sonax rep in my wake....(stupid me as usual...I forgot to ask his name!).
The 2.5 km trek was a real good workout.
When I arrived at the ticket office at 10 min until 2pm I thought I would be fine....NOT
There was a screw up with some tickets and people in line were fuming.
I got to the window sooner than I would have guessed to find my General Admission ticket was gone....
So I asked the girl in my unfashionable Castilian '¿que puede usted hacer para mi?.'
She looked at my passport and laughed "Eres de California?....valle"
2 seconds later I had a grandstand seat for the price of GA/Pelouse 'Gracias para todos' I said and walked off to the entrance.
Very happy I was when I saw that I had been given a seat at the very top of stand B which afforded a view of the speedy exit of Campsa as well as the new tightened turn into La Caixa. Surprisingly, it was busy in the stand for qualifying as the favoured Renault driver had the locals sporting the gloriously coloured Asturias flag which BTW is a well needed respite from the red wash that permeates most of our places of worship. I actually enjoyed single car qualifying for once as they all screamed out of Campsa and into the new corner with tyres blazing. Then the squirt through the little S before Sabadel. Just as the action got exciting I turned around to see Jenson blow what would have been a fine lap indeed. JB runs wide and Qual2 report
Takuma and JPM did give us reason to hope but as things transpired MS lap was hours ahead of everyone else and at that point I kind of gave up on my dream of 'something to look forward to'.

After quals were over I wandered out to the Pelouse area to see what I would have been able to see and.... there he was, the same guy I saw at Imola last year I reckon he had bought a new phone since we last met...unfortunatly the lens was on the back of the phone and he kept taking pictures of himself during the eventful and exciting F3000 race.

'Time for refreshment' said my brain and off back to town I wandered to soak up the tasty afterglow of things to come. On the way I saw the marshals having a post session debrief at Curva Repsol in their mini curved post fashioned just like the main grandstand.

When I arrived in town I stopped at a bar whose clientele spilled out into the street. A bottled beer was €1 which is about €4.50 cheaper than at the track. The feeling there was fabulous. Many fans of all different nationalities were joining together expressing their preferences for cars and drivers. All except a drunk Englishman who HAD to pick a fight with a Connie Montoya wannabe. Needless to say I was for the girl, however, she did not need my support. She saw him off in a barrage of sexual inadequacy jokes that left the unwitting 'SHOEMACCA' fan reeling and the gathered crowd cheering as if Juanito had just overtaken Michael at the finish line.

Yeah,...as if.

It was at that point I thought out loud..."Ya know, they really should end the weekend here and now."
What with the stage set as it was and the possibilities for Sunday, it made an appetizing evening of anticipation.

My thoughts then turned to my long suffering hosts who had so graciously offered me their fabulous farm house at l'Esperia in the hills above SILLS as sanctuary. As the sun was setting I absorbed the luscious countryside that changed from drenched Bayou to lush mountain forests full of cork trees.
Jose Maria Pratt and his wife Melanie were waiting for my call and had a real Spanish farm house dinner prepared for me as I sat in the 200+ year old kitchen with massive fireplace. This fresh food was possibly the best I had ever tasted. After that treat and some wonderful conversation, I retired to bed.


I awoke Sunday morning as Melanie served an authentic Catalan breakfast. I commented on how I just had the best nights sleep I could ever remember. Jose Maria, without even glancing up from his plate, mentioned 'Everyone says that.' Then off to SILLS station we went so I could make it to the track on time. I arrived to find the town as bustling as yesterday but there was one strange addition...Those irrepressible Chileans and their pan pipes world tour had set up shop right in the middle of pirate F1 swag headquarters.....Man oh Man do this lot get around or what?

The main entrance looked like some sort of rock festival with food and drink vendors and bars all proclaiming 'BUY NOW and avoid the extortionate prices inside.' I noticed something fishy at the bottom of the Vodaphone/Ferrari entry arch....That bloody Clear Channel is even horning in on my beloved F1...BERNIE BEWARE.

[Jp on ramblas mode]I really do enjoy spending time at the circuits. Watching people coming, going, their expressions and body language. Watching weather develop, watching sunsets and shadows fall. Do other people naturally get this passionate imbibing their surroundings? Is this a church going experience for them too? Under usual circumstances I hate crowds but when I am at the track they really do hold some fascination for me. I usually try and seek out areas and elevations to watch practice sessions from not seen by the TV camera angles provided. There are so many different vantage points to submerge into. These would be places I would put TV cameras. Places that convey the people in their element.[/Jp off ramblas mode]

See what happens when you go all gooey eyed....It's nearly race time and I am in a daze, being swept away by the crowd wandering behind the main grandstands. It's at least a good 15 min trek. I'd best get moving.

With 3 mins to go till the roll off I arrive in my seat to see 'Fan Freedom' here in Grandstand B reaching it's climax. Fan Freedom is kinda cool in these days of PC 'no you can't' BS. Here we have smoking, drinking, klaxon blasting, flag waiving, camera hamming, airhorn blowing. All in anticipation of what is to come. Sadly (and predictably) the anticipation was to be unfulfilled yet again. Although when they took off on the formation lap I yelled 'LOONEY ALERT'
Perfect thing to throw up a wild card...I was licking my lips..too bad he came too early, just like the Connie Wannabe was talking about last night. Reality brought us down to earth quickly though.

This race was rubbish and I don't mean pedal bin kinda dull, I mean overflowing rubbish dull. As far back as I can remember I do not think I have been to a more boring F1 race EVER...(and that's 50+GP's).

Well folks, I spent most of the race, after the first pitstops, chatting to Irina from Moscow while she filmed her documentary for college credit. (Damn, now that's a class I could have done with. Go to races and get credits?)
The poor kid sitting in front of me lasted 10 laps then proceeded to use his time more effectively.
My youngest son rang me about then and asked if he could stop the videotape machine and switch the channel over to Nickelodeon? I said YES without hesitation. It kind of reminded me of two weeks prior when I sat in my front room dozing off during the San Marino GP only to find he had switched the TV over to MaryKate and Ashley.

At this point I noticed I was not the only one totally disinterested in the on-track 'action' as we got a shot on the TV screen of Ron surprised by cameras on the Maclaren pitwall ....
Hey wait a minute...perhaps this lack of attention is the reason things are so abominable for MacRon this year?
It then occurred to me, are we SURE we are getting the same TV feed as they do?
Whatever... it ain't making them Mac's any quicker is it?

This was the first race I have ever attended that made me think...'can't wait till this is over'
....And so it was..The few people left in the stands turned to watch some mad Dutch kids having beer cooler races down the steps.
I then walked back to the train station to find the massive queue to get inside.
Cue my return to the main street bar, where the locals were really enjoying this opportunity to rake in the cash.
I sat in a quiet corner to see all the fans come in and attempt to order uno cerveca.
One loaded down chap came in wanting to sell some swag to the punters enjoying their refreshment.
'Don't come in here hawking your wares as if it's the medina' said the proprietress behind the bar....I burst out laughing...so did she.
I met a rather nice couple from Finland Jyrki and Tuija. We got to talking about all types of things,
as one does after 37 beers, and at some point Tuija said 'This is my first race'.
"Good lord" I replied..."What chance have you to become as passionate about this as I am ?"
We said our good bye's and I headed to a now vacant train station where I took the train into town to meet Melanie at her gig http://www.lapaloma-bcn.com then headed home.

Next morning the rain started as I left for the airport and flew home to Gatwick.
Elaine and I prepared a lovely Mediterranean supper in our garden drenched with early evening sunshine.

Lets hope this new F1 takes care of the problem, sooner rather than later
My only reservation is...... I hope they don't destroy the sound of the cars.



EDIT: Place holder for images

Edited by jonpollak, 18 July 2017 - 04:03.


#2 masterhit

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 23:20

Well done JP!

You have a real skill for expressing and observing how individuals act in the (World F1?) Group, telling the tale of a true race goer's first hand experience.

How on Earth did you recognise the same guy as last year? :eek: Talk about observation skills. Small world!

The McLaren pit cam gag is priceless, as are the WF1G stickers spreading the good word.

There's some real arty poetic stuff in there. :clap:

#3 wawawa

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Posted 12 May 2004 - 23:31

Great read! I loved the bit about "Serephina...making racing car sounds" :lol: And, of course, those McPictures :D

#4 D-man

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 00:16

I couldn't agree more about the last line.....

#5 gerry nassar

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 08:21

Great read Jon :up: :clap:

#6 Garagiste

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Posted 19 May 2004 - 14:39

Ah memories! Loved that bar in Montmello, we waited there for the queue for the train to die down too.
Great Patisserie in the village too - 2 crossiants and eight small cans of beer for the price of one cup of Skippy P!ss at the circuit.

Good job, Jon. :up:

#7 jonpollak

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 18:11

Milwaukee Mile Smile
Jp goes to the night race in West Allis

After watching the 9+hr INDY500 coverage that SKY Sports 3 presented us in the UK with, I got to thinking about ovals again. I mean really, how much studio banter, weeper-cam close ups and qualifying highlights can one stand during a rain delay? And to be truthfull in the meantime I did walk the dog, cook dinner, wash the dishes, put the kids to bed, take the rubbish out all before glancing in to see they DID stick with it... Hats off to SKY Sports. :D
Good thing the IMS crew did such a great job with their weeper rags and all after the passing monsoons to actually get the thing underway. I was dreading it going on to Monday seeing as I was leaving for Chicago bright and early in the morning... TV knee-jerking urgency playing into my hands for once...whood'a thunk it?.

I am lucky my ducks are in a row on this reincarnation of the 'cultural folk event of 2003'.ie:...my day job
So with that quiet confidence, and a good weather report Saturday night, I headed off to the Milwaukee Mile on Sunday.
On a whim I rang up a friend to see if she could get me in.... 'Good news Jp,...Iv'e been promoted'
was the reply..so, on the back of that revelation I was offered 'Hot Pit' credentials like long ago in the days of yore.

Never in my life have I awoke on a race day at 1pm and thought,...8 hrs till they're off!!!
With that laid back approach I eat a leisurely lunch which led to a releaxed drive up the Interstate for an hour.

I still arrived way early but used the time to best effect by trawling for my usual stupid photo op's..which I must say, with the access on offer in this series, is not difficult nor too taxing.
For instance..
The 'top price best seat in the grandstands' ticket is still cheaper than the lowest price GA ticket to an F1 race
The price for a pit pass..(yes Irene, you CAN purchase one) is 65 dollars.
Beer is half the price as at an F1 race AND you get twice as much AND it was a local brew,Leinies!! not that joey swill. Needless to say,...I par-took plenty.....and off on my CheapDigiPix® safari I went.

Down at pit exit were the old faithfull .
Wrapped in some strange conflict it seemed, was an unhappy Bordais. He was second to hit the wall during the race..so hindsight behind this portrait, I see why he was.
Just up the pit lane was another unhappy soul Justin Wilson who, from the look of it, had his trepidation prescribed as well. He was the FIRST to hit the wall on lap 1.
Walking down that pit lane I found a lot of women working in middle to top end jobs to do with the cars directly
My favorite was Mario Dominguez's engineer Tess. She had these cute pigtails of blond hair at the sides of her headset, not to mention being exteemly attractive as well.
Another engineer at Walker was really expressive. She seemed to be enjoying the chatter on the pit wall. I saw a really busy girl working for Bridgestone around Carpentier's pit all day. There was however another attractive lady with a mic and an ENG crew looking deperatly to interview someone...anyone?..about anything?..anything at all?
I eventually found her something to report on...
Bill and Betsy's wedding!!
And why not...? These two were getting hitched in the paddock!!..(I can just see that middle finger 1/4 of an inch from my nose had I even mentioned that idea at my house)... how sweet.
Having seen my get the newlyweds on film routine, another person with a mic was passing by and laughed at me and my exploits.
Don't get me wrong..there was real attention being paid to the cars but many of my Fav-o-writes were willing to take the time to shoot the breeze or catch up on old times. Thirsty work this paddock lark. Cue Leinie round two.
While out looking for even more exotic beers I ran across this poor guy spending his mortgage payment on ChampCar swag for the entire family...only for them to be the one and only A+J Portinga.. nice to have met ya'll (Jamie's daughter is a doll).

Speaking of doll's, my favorite female driver strode passed me on the way to her pit with a look I have not seen since seeing Senna glide past me in '90@ Silverstone...(totally focused and determind), not even hearing the calls for autographs and pictures on the way through the paddock. Danica did well to make up two spots in an Atlantic race that saw every car doing virtually identical laptimes throughout it's 60+laps

Nightime fell quickly, and saying it was eerie would be akin to saying Hitchcock made scary films.
The floodlights made a strange and foreboding environment for these turbo slingshots.

Rather than being the 'fan in the stands' tonight I thought I would watch from the pits on the TV monitors and experience it from the caulderon, if ya know what I mean. A very exciting option It was. so much so I forgot to snap any pix, outside of this one of Mr Forsythe himself waiting for his only race contender to serve a drive through penalty for god knows what.
Ryan Hunter Reay did an amazing job and in my estimation should be a candidate for a fast track into the Big Time.
We all cheered like mad as he made his way to the podium. His girlfriend Becky was wetting herself with excitement and who could blame her. Funny thing was the site of Patrick and Michel J waiting for ages till the boy actually made it throught the throngs of well wishers to get to the poduim.

Racing sure is fun when you are right on top of it like this.


EDIT: Images...yeah, I'll get to it one day...maybe

Edited by jonpollak, 18 July 2017 - 04:00.

#8 masterhit

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 16:55

Crikey JP, you DO get around :eek:


Good stuff again, anyone who does not read this is missing out! :clap:

#9 jonpollak

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 16:14

A Free Man in Paris
Jp attends the Race of Champions

Saturday morning broke sunny and bright.
My wife spent the night on the sofa bed seeing as I had invited the gang from the pub back to mine for the rotating 'after hours do' on a Friday night...(it's only been 7 months since it was my turn but she still detests that lot.)

I arrived at Clapham Junction at around 10am to transfer to Waterloo. The Eurostar was rather empty and I only saw 1 chap with the slightest sign of "racegoer"emblazend upon him. I transfered straight from Gare du Nord to the Metro and it seemed to me as if every punter on that line got off with me at La Plaine.It was only a short walk down the Promenade to the Stade. It was really freezing cold as we all saundered down towards our destination,it was at that point I wondered if I had pilled on enough layers to ward off the post sunset temperature drop. Unperturbed, I stopped for a hot café and encountered a few rabbid Loeb Fans as they prepaired to get jiggy with their hero. I was soaking up the atmosphere when I got a tap on my shoulder..."Êtes-vous un Américan?" and as I turned around I was accosted by the sight of 2 French Johnson Fans.
Well...needless to say I started laughing like a hyena. "Ce qui est si drôle?" they said. "I would have never guessed there would be any NASCAR fans here in Paris...Way to gauche non?" was my retort..... Quel Surprise Jp.

We all instantly decided it was BEER THIRTY and I treated them to a large 1664 each. The crowds were starting to swell outside the gates and as it reached 4 pm I thought we had best go inside....Not so fast Jp..
The officials had no intention of letting us all in on time,...good god no....We were all made to wait untill 10 minutes before the first race when they decided to open the gates.
Yet it was only one person at a time through 2 security & ticket checks. As I arrived at my seat the first race was just starting. I was shocked to find the place fairly empty.
This is not acceptable for any venue let alone at what is supposedly the 'shining star' of France.
I was told later that they let in all the people with VIP/PRESSCredentials first.
I watched the first race then as they set up the next one I ran downstairs to the bar to buy a brew.
OH NO, guess what...THEY DON'T SELL REAL BEER...only that crap No Alcohol stuff....STRIKE 2
later I turned around to see the throngs STILL waiting to get in at 5:05pm with 3 races gone already.


The racing WAS good fun however. My favorites were Loeb vs McRae and the hysterical fact that the no name last minute replacement for Jeff Gordon, Casey Mears, BEAT David Coulthard in those buggy cars...
But really the most entertaining thing was Heikki Kovalainen beating Schumi in the Ferrari 360's(and his celebrations on the roof afterwards) and then beating Loeb at his own game and in HIS own car!!! I am a big fan of this kid now...
The lull between the ROC and the Nations Cup was a waste of time accept for a few demo laps by Ekstrom in the RedBull Audi A4.
After that all the stadium lights were dimmed out and we were presented with a Nations Cup parade with the drivers on the back of pickup trucks with some French cheerleaders....This stupid event had THE WORST lighting I have EVER seen. They placed the follow spots way too low and as soon as the drivers passed by the audience stood up and blocked the lights from hitting their targets...end result?...The entire parade took place in TOTAL DARKNESS.
I spent that time checking out what little local talent there was from my dark and cold position in the stands (it never ceases to amaze me that promotors have yet to learn that when you turn the lights out in a large place.... people feel they get cold!!!)

The Nations Cup races were great entertainment and it's a good thing they were as I saw may people filling out in disgust after the lighting debacle (well, who can blame them). I was cheering for the Finns and Brazilians and this was not accepted well by the partisan crown. So very parisan they seemed to be as well. At one point Jean Alesi responded to a question in English over the PA (as he was asked the question in English) the crowd booed and hissed like it was a British Christmas pantomime. But out on the track he was their darling along with Sebastian Loeb. I left as soon as Heikki's car faultered on the startline in the final. I stopped at the tent outside the Stade that sold real beer..the queue was 15 people deep so I hi-tailed it to the Metro and the warm and cosy room I had booked over the net.....

Not so fast Jp,
My room had been given away to whoever got there before I did but I was offered a room over at their sister place near the Arch de Triomphe. Serandipity at it's finest was this inconvienience.
When I walked in to the place the chap behind the desk said to me "Enjoy the ROC?" I said I had and he then asked if I had heard about the run down the Champs-Elysees in the morning?...NO I HAD NOT !!
So with that new info I tucked up in bed and though 'oh sod the booze I will have a nice kip and wake up early.'

I awoke at 10 and after a quick breakfast in the lobby I walked up to the Arch expecting to see loads of fans all over the place...
Not so fast Jp...
This is France and ain't nobody getting out of bed for no procession down some tourist street.
Nope all I saw was 2 COPS waiting to hand out tickets for multiple lane changes in a roundabout.
It seemed quite a long while untill a crowd of about 15 people showed up on the other side of the street
Then all of a sudden they blocked off traffic to the arch and toodling past came Sebastian Loeb and Carlos Sainz
then in a flash of commotion and sirens came some guy in a red car. As you can see there must be some film of this as they had a large film truck with cameras/AD/continuity/make up/wardrobe/associated hangers on and loads of folks on scooters surrounding him like flies on dung.

I retired to find a nice lunch then arrived at the Gare du Nord in time for my train home.
As I walked out to the Eurostar some guy ahead of me had a luggage crisis and scattered his many bags all over the platform.
I helped him gather his stuff and as I presented him with one of the bags he looked up and said "Hey thanks"
No problem I said and we boarded the train. We chatted for ten minutes or so till he started dozing off.
I figured I had best leave him alone for a while. We arrived at Waterloo.
I helped him with his bags and he sheepishly thanked me as I offered him the best of luck for next year
...and I meant it.


Edited by jonpollak, 18 July 2017 - 04:06.

#10 philhitchings

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Posted 07 December 2004 - 13:48

Thanks JP! makes it sound very tempting

#11 petri

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 13:06

Originally posted by jonpollak
We arrived at Waterloo I helped him with his bags and he sheepishly thanked me as I offered him the best of luck for next year...and I meant it.

Jp [/B]

A good example why you should always have a camera available.
Great reading & watching, thanks!! :clap:

#12 jonpollak

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 03:38

Why do you dream flat tyres?
Jp soaks up the highs and lows of USGP 05

Starting my sojourn to the racing capital of the world I had little notion of what was going to transpire over the weekend.
Leaving Philadelphia at 4AM on Friday morning was not an easy feat for this race fan as I had suitably drowned the sorrows of a San Antonio Spurs loss to Detroit in game 4 with copious amounts of that fizzy hop drink.
The Amtrak station in Philly has a wonderful statue which wholeheartedly portrays the state of this weary traveler. Fading in and out of consciousness on the way to Newark airport I was early on my arrival to the check in desk and the Delta agent asked if I wanted to take an earlier flight..."OH YES PLEASE" I said thinking about the 2 hour wait otherwise.

My last attendance at Indy was right after 9/11 when I was one of 8 passengers on a 757 from Gatwick to Cincinnati.
That drive west on I-74 was nice and relaxing so I aimed to recreate that same peaceful feeling again.
Driving down 16th Street, bathed in hot sunshine, I turned into the track underpass, with 5 minutes till first practice, paid my $10 dollar Friday entry fee which includes parking in the infield and walked back under the track to take my place in the stands at turn 13. I was surprised to see all the stands closed around that corner but was not dissuaded in the least as I winked to one of the yellow shirt volunteers as I jumped the little rope barring my access....
Being the only one sitting there throughout the entire corner was a weird and wonderful feeling.
I watched as Scott Speed and a few others did their Installation laps

When Pedro De LaRosa did a flyer I got all choked up with the sound of that glorious V-10 screaming around the banking.

[Jp goes into dreamy Joni Mitchell mode]
The sound of flying engines is a song so wild and true it scrambles time and seasons if it get through to you. Then your life becomes a travelogue, full of picture postcard charms, Amelia, it was just a false alarm
[/Jp goes off dreamy Joni Mitchell mode]

I noticed how low to the ground some cars were running around there and the wooden planks on the Toyotas were being chewed up which made a real woody barbecue smell along with the Toluene aroma. Speaking of Toyota....I took a quick snap of Ralf thinking about his tribulations last year..... Little did I know.

I moved along to the end of the banked turn, still no fans within sight near me. I wondered if the FOM cameraman operating on the exit had any apprehension regarding his position there.
At least the FOPA snappers could duck out of the way were anything to happen.
The session ended and I took my $10 ticket out to 16th street to mingle amongst the atmosphere. I thought about a quick getting bite, for about .1 of a second, at the Wild Cheri ShowClub but figured the place would be rammed with yellow shirts playing hooky. I bought the obligatory turkey leg and gnawed on it for a minute like a hungry dog..OK enough of this I thought...have to last the whole weekend ya' know. Passing the Speedway Coffee stand I remembered back to the first 2 races held here and how the IMS brew made me see visions like Carlos Castaneda then run to straight to the toilet. No wonder there were no takers for this Java!!!
Wandering under the track tunnel I happened upon the Credentials office and asked if it wouldn't be too much trouble might they just whip me up a laminated pit pass. I got the feeling it was not possible as a pretty girl smiled politely and said 'OUT YOU GO SWEETIE' .

Unperturbed, I went to the loo before the next session and who did I find there sorting out his headscarf in the mirror? Miracle of miracles, it was the world famous SITH on his last leg of the SITH World Tour
We exchanged our mutually gracious hello's and I said I hope he might be able to wangle his way into the SPEED party that night. He laughed and said THAT'S NO PROBLEM MATE as we went our separate ways, him to the pit lane me to a grassy mound, to enjoy second practice.
Little did I know...

Unaware of the unfolding drama I went back to the hotel after the delayed session to freshen up and prepare for the party put on by the USA's F1 broadcaster SPEED Channel .

My dear friends Tracy and Lori arrived from Atlanta with die-hard Phil Calvert in tow. Rossco and Kelly joined us and we all set off to queue up behind the velvet rope to gain entry. After the rigourous entry procedure we were steered to a table full of badges bearing the names of all the guests. I noticed there was no badge for David Hobbs but was relieved to find David waiting inside wearing Bob Varsha's badge. Bob thought better of burning his voice out before the weekend came to a climax and therefore sent his regrets.

The Free Booze and Food was a welcome break from track food so we all dug in.
Typically, just as things started getting wild and crazy... guess who showed up?
Shortly thereafter the cops came in closed down the festivities with a cordial....OUT YOU GO RACEFANS!!

Can't remember much after that but I awoke Saturday morning early and read Tony Dodgins wonderful article on AtlasF1 called All Tyred and Emotional. Little did I know...

Upon leaving the hotel, heading trackside, to again hear...
[Jp goes into dreamy Joni Mitchell mode again] The caressing rev of motors finely tuned like fancy women in thirties evening gowns [/Jp reluctantly goes off dreamy Joni Mitchell mode]
I saw SITH and his pal Jeffery waiting for a ride so I said get in and it's a good thing I did as Jeffery had passes to the Cheever suite and a parking pass. From that vantage point I wondered why the majority of runners that morning were driving through the pit lane. Still cluless, I was.
After eating a luscious fresh fruit plate I went to have a look at the TV Compound
I chatted to a few very happy and chirpy FOM staffers who seemed very pleased to be doing the gig and I can't blame them. One of the lads said "Go in there and have a closer look mate..."No Problem" I can still hear those chaps laughing as I said "Just wanna have a look inside" to the guard outside who seemed in on the joke from the start.

I made my way towards the manicured garden area where my friend Jim, an FOM camera man, was shooting He asked me If I had made a fool of myself yet?..."Not in the last 30 seconds I hadn't" I replied proudly. He was really having a great time and said how great the director and crew were. It all bodes well for a return to FULL FOM PRODUCTION SOON.
Qualifying came and went ZOOM ... I was kind of curious as to how Jarno did that lap so quickly.
On my way back to the hotel I was thinking that IMS got the wrong number 16 on pole.
It should have been the 16 from a few weeks back.

That night I went out to the Hard Rock to meet some folks and saw Rossco, Spence, Alex, Hal, Nicole, James and Robert from Ardennes Productions. The talk was of the uncertain situation for tomorrow.
But we all thought they would have a real race.... Little did we know...

Race day dawned to yet more sunshine.
I asked Tracy to keep the scanner close at hand to try and decipher WTF was going on from minute to minute. We tuned into the SPEED and ITV production channels and heard all manner of rumours and theories being expounded.

Meanwhile the grid girls made their way on to the track with the crowd ignorant to the disaster about to unfold.

It was about 30 mins left till the off when we realised that, with no new tyres were in the pit lane and no silly chicane being built, we were in trouble. Then we overheard the ominous statement on from Martin Brundle's radio the Michelin cars would pit after the formation lap.
This was really horrible news but not near as bad as the fact that the 120 thousand in the stands had no clue what was transpiring. The ones near me thought I was crazy when I told them only six cars would start....I told the nearest yellow shirt that there will be a lot of unhappy people in the next 10 minutes and he had better inform his superiors. He had no idea whatsoever of what I was saying. When all the cars took to the grid and the crown cheered I felt stomach churning worse than the bottom of the IMS coffee pot. As the cars pulled into the pit lane the outrage was palpable. I left my seat as soon as the red lights went out.
I saw Rossco exiting the underpass as well. He was as livid as I was. The crowd poured out of the stands soon enough. I figured I would go back to the Paddock entrance and make my feelings known. Rejected yet again
Seems I never really bother to Read the signs do I?

An ITV crew was busy picking up fan reaction and as I stood there listening I realised I was too close and was likely to be in the shot...they panned to me and I proceeded to let rip with an outburst of derision so virulent the air turned blue
No surprise ITV failed to show it. OFCOM would have sent them a massive bill for every expletive and all those Coronation Street viewers awaiting there soap would have had coronaries.

I arrived back at the hotel to find most F1 websites had crashed so I watched a few laps of the Champ Car race until I got a call from my long suffering wife back in England asking me why I was not at work. I said, I beg your pardon? What do you mean? She mentioned that on the ITV evening news my mug was clearly visable during that impromptu vox-pop in front of the paddock entrance and what the hell was I doing there instead of being hard at work earning the money?. 'For christ's sake Jon', she went on, 'even the neighbors commented on it'.
I knew she never watched racing but she always watches the evening news....Damn that ITV!

After hearing the rants on Wind Tunnel SITH rang asking if I wanted to go to the RED BULL PARTY with him.

I met various of drivers and F1 personalities at the party and had cooled down enough to be sanguine about the whole thing. They all seemed so unconcerned by the unsavoury events that transpired only a few hours before. They just wanted to party the night away. Bob Constanduros told me there was no way we could have informed the crowd to what was going to happen, they would have rioted. I disagreed saying that American's are well generally mannered.
I asked him if this travesty had transpired elsewhere... wouldn't the reaction have been a bit more violent?
He seemed a bit incredulous at that comment.

Later on that night on the way back from the Red Bull Party I met that very same TV crew who asked me to calmly recant my earlier ravings to them, which I did. I am afraid it was still a bit charged and will never see the light of day on a commercial broadcast but they had smiles on their faces as I delivered the diatribe. I ended my vitriol with the phrase....Better luck next time F1.

Early next morning I departed back to my day job with an empty feeling while driving back to Cinci recalling the lyrics of a song called Borderline

As I sat down in the seat of my Continental flight CVR-EWR I noticed a man sitting across from me who was rather familiar looking. I said excuse me but you look familiar what's your name.
Tony Dodgins he said....I almost eat my boarding pass.
Sitting next to me was the man who wrote the article which set the scene for Sunday's farce.
I did not know where to start.
We chatted about everything from children, social and ethical values to our two nations differing interpretations of sport and diversion. When the subject of the debacle came up he offered his opinion which seemed to amount to spoiled children taking the ball home.

Good thing I have no desire to be a credential holding correspondent......YET.

He asked who I liked to read I offered my opinion and at the end he asked about Peter Windsor.
I said I didn't care all that much for his self assured delivery in print but enjoyed him on the box as a pit reporter and the like. I then said how I really enjoyed the work of one Mr Mark Hughes and his Trackside reports, F1's Inside Line. When I saw him in the ITV booth during the Monaco broadcast I thought that perhaps we were in for a treat as he would be replacing a certain loud mouth soon? As I was waxing lyrical about Mark's observational style he pointed to the seat behind me. Sitting there with a calm grin was the man himself. Hello he said. I almost **** myself there and then. Tony rolled with laughter. There was no way I was shutting up now and the three of us carried on right up to touch down...At one point the talk turned to music, most likely brought on by the explanation of my profession, I asked Tony who his favourites were he said he didn't really have any but Mark lit up like a beacon at the thought of a discussion of a real love of his. As I turned to him for his opinion he reeled off some great bands and then after a pause said... Joni Mitchell.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as I yelled "JONI MITCHELL"????

There he was, my favourite scribe, extolling the undervalued genius of the single most important musician in my life. I told him how so many of the artists I had worked for were so seriously influenced by her journey through music and her unbelievably delicious and descriptive lyrics.

The vindication I felt walking off that plane was a once in a life time high.


Edited by jonpollak, 18 July 2017 - 04:02.

#13 Jackman

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 13:47


You make even that sound fun - get thee to a race in Europe presently, I beg of you.

#14 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 16:35

Wonderful photo essay... Love the shots of the F1 signage, the miscellaneous saturnalia that innocuously sets the mood that tells you "you are at an Grand Prix Race"... (or not, as the case turned out...)

What a naughty rapscallion you are, getting thrown out of so many restricted areas....

Sorry I couldn't make saturday night.... Off to check my own 400+ pictures, video - and I hope my minidisc recorder didn't clip too bad..full multimedia experience and all that....

#15 maczippy

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Posted 23 June 2005 - 19:42

There is one crucial thing missing...The odd phone call to me about Charlie "W"....

Wonderful read as always Mr JP...

#16 philhitchings

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Posted 24 June 2005 - 10:56

nice one Jon

#17 The Kanisteri

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Posted 02 July 2005 - 10:52

Good one Jp! :up:

#18 Option1

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Posted 03 July 2005 - 02:16

:p :up: :up: :up: :rotfl:


#19 jonpollak

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Posted 04 July 2005 - 20:46

I failed to add...
Tony Dodgins included parts of our conversation in his article covering the historical event.
Payback Time


Edited by jonpollak, 03 March 2015 - 12:01.


#20 philhitchings

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Posted 05 July 2005 - 11:43

So speaks the chap on the plane! :cool:

#21 jonpollak

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 11:54

The Circle Game
Jp checks out his first gI.R.L.race

Having a few weeks off in the middle of the summer, due, in part, to the impending collapse of the concert touring business, I find myself in Colorado Springs visiting my mother.

As I get older my musical intolerance allows me the freedom say...'thanks but no thanks' to things I can't get excited about anymore. The realisation that family is so much more important than wasting time punching some clock for meaningless rock shows is liberating. The trade off is financial devastation.
Having said that, I was "dubya-ly" devastated having to turn down the Sissor Sisters gig a few days ago.
Mother is 86 years old and... ya only have one mum.

The Marriott Fairfield is way out of town but it has SPEED channel nestled centrally in the best basic cable service I have seen anywhere in the United States and free Wi-Fi, so I jumped on it.
As I threw open the curtains of my ground floor room I was confronted with the sight of Mobile Satellite Broadcasting.
I ventured out to investigate and was treated to the sound of recorded engine noises in the distance.
Comically relevant I thought.
I crossed the parking lot to follow the sound of this scratchy type recording.
I almost broke down in hysterics when in front of me stood Hooters with a generic IRL car parked in front.
The Orange Shorts greeted me with their patented cash extracting smile.
I ambled passed to find a few guys with freshly pressed collared shirts at the bar. SINDEN RACING are the peripheral peoples team. These guys are party to the IRL promotional Battering Ram which is rather evident throughout Southern Colorado at the moment.
After a few drinks they offered up a couple Free Tix

If my friends could only see me now,....
99 cent pints and free race tickets just for following the sound of a bad recording...

If I had my **** together I could of had all of my various accounts sat in the back of every damn oval opportunity that presented my rolling gypsy encampments so I could beg the chance to take a 2 seater ride at Watkins Glen. :D

Quit daydreamin' jackass.... go to bed and wake up @ 4am.

The road was empty on the way there. ...From off in the distance a shimmering oasis ,...

Wait...who am I kidding, it's like what Bernie used to describe Phoenix as "a shitty little oval" situated a stones throw off the highway.

I checked out the TV compound located in the general admission parking area. I then realised I was now inside the track without having used my free ticket.

I walked underneath the track up into the infield and out of the bushes came lurking the now obligatory RedBull thingy .
Wandering down near the pits I found Danica's personal pit grandstands
'IRL marketing hard at work here.'
Later on, they rolled her car out and cheers went up from those sitting there.
I kinda laughed and thought..OH PLEASE!!
She is probably doing an in-store or TV piece to camera or whatever

Into the garage and tech area I strolled
Very thorough these UnderTechs are.."Hey Virgil they got that sticker under there?"
I met my friend here and we talked about the Turkish track and what an absolute PEACH it seems to be.
His eyes grew larger under his sunglasses as he recalled the multi apex left hander.
He sorted me out with yet another free ticket just before getting pulled away by a reporter

Dan Weldon passed by and recalled to us how, in 2003 at this track, "he couldn't get out of his own way"....
Man, was that ever a funny phrase.
Just then Robin Miller walked by to survey the hilarity and it all went to hell.

I wandered over to the edge of the turn 4 onto an access road ..
It was scary to see how close it was, way too close...'SECURITY... get this idiot outta here'
Saturdays at the IRL are all about race set up and pole qualifying is not all that important so I strolled around and met Talia , a lovely young girl on the swag stand outside the track.
We chatted for a while about music and racing. 'This is so boring' she said.

I was gonna stay for qualifying but the clouds came in and I reckoned a visit to moms was in order just then.


After watching that PEACH of a GP2 race and the Grand Prix from Turkey I thought a few more minutes sleep would be on the cards. Damned if I could get back to the land of nod though.
So off to the free breakfast and away to the track where clueless volunteers directed me to a dirt parking lot.

I walked in again without anyone even glancing at my pass and strolled down pit lane to watch the morning warm up. These two were in a real animated discussion about getting around the make weights that inhabit the back end of the grid.
These 1 mile tracks mean that manoeuvring through traffic is almost as important as top speed, which by the way does not look as fast as it is from the spectators perspective.

I was rather impressed by how Ms. Patrick went from complete head scratching mode to topping the morning time sheets!
Perhaps she went for a pee of something??
Meanwhile things were going to plan in the Arca-Ex pit. All adjustments made the required predictable changes to handling. Ambling down the pit lane I stumbled upon Chris Hogue the son of a well known production manager who I worked with on tours such as Prince and Aerosmith. His kid works for Red Bull Cheever and is Pat Carpentier's front wheel guy...I later told Pat about Chris's dad and he said he had no idea and as a musician, he's a drummer, Pat would soon quiz him over his dad's accomplishments.

Practice ended and I went off in search of shade...the relentless sun beating down and the altitude was taking its toll on me.
On the way to seeking solar solace I saw the Jim Beam promo bus with 2, count them 2, Mobile satellite dishes...(pre dual LNB obviously)
I found a picnic area under the grandstands. What did I find there?.. A bunch of TV's showing a rerun of the GP on SPEED channel...not that there were many people interested but a few folks gathered round and asked me stupid questions.

Once the race was about to begin I snuck out on the track with ease and had the obligatory portait taken en piste. I was able to sit in on an impromptu drivers meeting taking place behind the introduction rostrum and then walked back into the pits to watch the action.

All was going well until I took out my Cheap Digi Pix® special to catch my pal's last pit stop...As I snapped the shutter I heard a large CLUNK... A cold wind blew through "my room with a view". The engine died and the temperature in that pit box dove to below freezing. I felt a knot of desperation in my stomach.

I immediately headed for the exit, not caring about the result any longer and drove off for another few hours with my mom.

Great to have the primary reason for being in town waiting as back up to distract myself from this unfortunate racing mishap.


Edited by jonpollak, 03 March 2015 - 12:52.

#22 Jackman

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 15:38

Great job once again Jp. Get to Monza - the GP2 paddock needs you!

#23 jonpollak

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 16:03

Yes well,.. haven't you got a PEACH of a series to cover!!!!
Ahh... Good old MONZA..Wish I could but it's my dear wife's birthday and she has rented a baronial mansion in the Cotswolds and invited 30 of her nearest and dearest...
I have been told to be on my best behaviour!!!
(but... said pad has large plasma TV with Sky satellite so I vill miss nussink I tell you, Nussink... )


#24 Jackman

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Posted 25 August 2005 - 16:29

That's a disappointment, particularly with the awards show there, but we will muddle along somehow. Your fans in GP2 will be drinking in your honour.

That's right, I used the plural deliberately.

#25 Sith

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Posted 26 August 2005 - 04:38

Originally posted by jonpollak
Yes well,.. haven't you got a PEACH of a series to cover!!!!
Ahh... Good old MONZA..Wish I could but it's my dear wife's birthday and she has rented a baronial mansion in the Cotswolds and invited 30 of her nearest and dearest...
I have been told to be on my best behaviour!!!
(but... said pad has large plasma TV with Sky satellite so I vill miss nussink I tell you, Nussink... )


Best behavior JP?? Can i get any odds ;) As long as it's nothing like the IndyF1 RED BULL party we were at i'm sure you'll be fine!!! :p

#26 SeanValen

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:23

As requested by Jon Pollak for this thread, my tifosi club article on my IMOLA 2006 TRIP! :up: :cool:

Click here:

As soon as I entered Bologna, I was a tifosiItalian, they injected me with something, perhaps some of it will go the next time I donate blood.

#27 philhitchings

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 05:41

I think it gets into the Marrow Sean, so you'll start producing your own anyway from now on. Thanks for sharing the link :up:

#28 jonpollak

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 14:38

Vill a Nue...Vill A Nue
Jp takes in the Intel London Grand Prix

Well, hardly a Grand Prix ...More like a spin in a parking lot but hey...

This was, most likely, my only chance to attend church this year so like the good parishioner I am off I trudged to Hyde Park in the rain early Tuesday morning.

Upon arrival, I was about 30 minutes early, I found the place like a ghost town with barely a sole around. I wandered over to the VIP area and looked down at the vast number of credentials laid out on the table.
I asked the young girl if there was one with my name on it (knowing full well there was NOT). She poured over her 5 page list and before realising I was not on there. It was just at that moment I saw Anne Bradshaw strolling past and I shouted out "HI ANNE"..she looked at me and said HI THERE..ARE YOU COMING IN?
I told her the poor girl on the desk couldn't find my name on the list and she barked back GIVE THE GUY A PASS....

Job done..I was in with a Press pass

I then got a text msg from my friend Paula asking if I was up at the JV fest...
"I sure am girl and you should get here too ASAP."
She arrived in about 5 minutes and we marched over to the credentials table to get her a pass as well
(By now the girl behind the credentials desk would have eaten razor blades had I asked her)...
Just then my pal ToneXIR from Digital Spy called saying he was gonna be a bit late.


Well he was right on time and he has written a wonderful account of our day..
so... take it away TONE XIR



Edited by jonpollak, 02 March 2015 - 18:17.

#29 Sith

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Posted 15 June 2006 - 05:33

Good to talk to you and Bumper when you were both there dude! :up: Saw the steelydan pics, that's some wig you're wearing!!!!! :rotfl:

#30 Melbourne Park

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Posted 16 June 2006 - 03:26

Originally posted by jonpollak
Vill a Nue...Vill A Nue
Jp takes in the Intel London Grand Prix... Upon arrival, I was about 30 minutes early, I found the place like a ghost town with barely a sole around. I wandered over to the VIP area and looked down at the vast number of credentials laid out on the table.
I asked the young girl if there was one with my name on it (knowing full well there was NOT). She poured over her 5 page list and before realising I was not on there. It was just at that moment I saw Anne Bradshaw strolling past and I shouted out "HI ANNE"..she looked at me and said HI THERE..ARE YOU COMING IN?
I told her the poor girl on the desk couldn't find my name on the list and she barked back GIVE THE GUY A PASS....

Job done..I was in with a Press pass

:up: :clap: :clap: :lol: :cool: Envy: :mad:

#31 fastlaptime

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Posted 28 June 2006 - 19:43

:up: :up:
well said!!

#32 wilsonf1

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 13:16

hey there

ive been kindly refered to this thread by a gent who says this is the right place for looking for people who have travelled to grand prixs!

if you can check this thread out for what id like check here:

would really appreciate it

many thanks

#33 jonpollak

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 17:37

A quick flashback to Imola in 2003
(if for no other reason than to keep this tread alive)


Hysterical original thread found HERE

Why is it that every time I go to Italy I fall in love?

It's either with a Girl or the architecture or the food or the lovely and sensuous environment that breeds the best existence on earth. Some will argue that assertion, I will not listen.

Forget those TV fear merchants telling you about the War on Terror or Middle Eastern Mullas with a bullhorn and cross to bear!!
Yep...Just ignore what you are told by your "ministry of information"...

Imola,Easter,and the smell of the flora and fauna in the Parco delle Acque Minerale have conspired to seduce me in an orgy of the senses.

Arriving at the circuit on early Saturday morn I asked the old boys gathered outside the circuit on a street called via Rivazza where to buy a ticket..."Lascilo vedere. Su là " they said so I walked the 1/4 mile to a white hut where
I bought my General Admission ticket for a paltry €50,
Crossed over the bridge at Rivazza and there I was.... FINALLY.. at the track I had lusted over only 2 weeks prior.

Step One was some powerful Italian Cafe Badabimu
...and what would greet me as I walked up the hill from Rivazza to the Variante Alta?...
An alfresco cafe right next to the exit of the chicane!
'WOW..this rules' I thought to myself, as I supped up the tasty brew.
The PA system was playing Sade('I still really really love you') as Charlie W rumbled past in the course car...
a seductive chill runs down my spine
I finish the java and watched the start of the first session from there and then strolled down the hill into Acqua Minerale where I walked behind the grandstands to find a surreal scene as if from a Monet painting.
I sat under the stands for the rest of the session and thought to myself...
'Man, what a find if the rain does come down!!'.

When the session ended I walked down into the center of the circuit,following a long tree lined path, at the end of which I could just make out an elongated AGIP sign meaning only one thing...Tamburello, today bathed in an equally unreal hazy sunshine.
I decided to go down to the entry of the corner from the start line straight...It was there I met Gianni.
He had an obsession with sending his mates Live pics from the track via his 3g phone.
The poor sod never got the think to click when the cars were in frame!!!
I said Divertirsi mio amico and made my way back towards the Villeneuve chicane .

Of course while I was walking down the path lined with beautifully fragrant plants and flowers I remembered that here is where the Senna statue was.
No sooner had I realised that did I spy a young woman sobbing her eyes out in memory of Ayrton. It was just then the cars started the second 45 min session and the site of her wiping the tears away and the sound of the V10's screaming through brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat.

I hugged her and said ..'Este é quase demasiado para mim demasiado... (This is almost too much for me as well...)
It was then I heard Bob Constanduros mention over the PA that Elizabeth Schumacher was gravely ill...
I had to go sit down and gather my emotions
Just before I made my way into the parkland area...
I saw the statue.
Cue the waterworks....

I sobered quickly..but then,

Half way through the session I spied a woman trying to control her two young boys with massive amounts of BREWSKI
..My mood changed instantly when I saw that and I decided to JOIN IN
Who cares if I withdrew my kids college fund to buy a six pack at the track...Big deal...They get good education from TV like all the other kids right?...

So off I went down to the Villeneuve chicane...my mood lightening with each step and gulp..
As I reached the exit of the corner I spied the perfect vantage point for tomorrow.
On the right before the underpass is a high bank next to a fence
This affords a view of
1) a LARGE screen
2) the exit of Tamburello and the straight into Villeneuve
3) the exit of Villeneuve into the braking zone at Tosa..
It's gonna be where I where I watch the race from, No question..

I pass under the bridge and decide to forego walking up Tosa in favour of a walk by the river up to the point of Senna's impact
(morbid perhaps, but I just felt pulled to the right instead of left.)
So back up the track I walked staying close to the fence all the while....Many fans were camping on the other side of the river bank and playing the WORST MUSIC EVER... I came upon some marshals at post 4 having lunch
the chef was working that barbie like JPM through the Piratella..His creations smelled devine.."Buono Appetitto" I said and headed downhill to see the plaque and scrawling on the wall there just below the impromptu lunch area.
Tributes  I jumped the now torn 2nd fence to see the track from the outside ...
Chills-a-plenty here folks!!... AGAIN.

About this time I felt the Fosters guiding me into the paddock area...In search of a little mischief...
"DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT" said Hans the Austrian pincer in charge of the Paddock Club entry...
Jast moof alonk please ...So I did .
I then saw another German speaking paddock dweller Christina from Koln trying to calm the local polizia down...
I passed along the alley where the TV compound was where I saw THIS ...I had a thought for everyone here when, after downing the last tinnie, I walked by the ITV compound and offered them our BEST WISHES

Just as Qualifying started I had to return some of that Fosters..
It came as no surprise that the well equipped toilets even afforded a
peek at the track as well as toilet paper and a clean seat...Very impressed I was.

Qualifying came and went ...zoom

I watched a rather good F3000 race from Variante Bassa when over we went back to Rimini to eat drink and sleep etc..ready for the race tomorrow.

Race day dawned clear and sunny ..I brought all the rain gear though
I arrived early again and walked from the other side of Rivazza past the houses you see on tv ending up near the start finish area and intended to stroll around to look at...Uhh..NO YOU DON'T Jp
This is race day and everyone was taking themselves very seriously...
(except me of course) :p
While taking my time strolling towards Tosa I hear a mighty argument in progress...
Some crafty locals had set up their own grandstands for their mates...(or paying customers!)
The authorities made him pull it all down...killjoys!!

I took up station at the exit of Villeneuve and listened to the marshalls tell their stories to the fans pressed against the fence.
I turned around to see the Tosa hill behind us a bit sparse...
At around 1pm the TV feed to the big screens focused on Michael as he was dealing with his Mothers death.
I could not watch for too long as the poor guy was fighting back the tears..
Very moving...
So incredulity suspended, I found myself cheering for the man and his Brother.
I was in good company...
everyone else was as well

The race came and went ...zoom

I must say however that the circuit TV coverage was WAY BETTER than what I watched on tape from our beloved ITV upon my arrival home last night!!! They had detailed corner entry/exit comparisons during the race as well as quals and constant in-cars front and rear..

After the race everyone invades the track...
I did too
The place was rammed with everyone who bothered going to the event this year...
I did manage to hear some guy asking a Ferrari tech person for a piece of the car to take home to the kids!!!
His reply involved a gesture well known in these parts!!!
Finally I walked past the TV compound again just to see what pass gets you where...
As my camera battery died just then... I was just able to catch the pass list
I left the track and went back to the room thinking..
If this WAS the last F1 at Imola..
I am glad I went...

Edited by jonpollak, 28 October 2020 - 09:30.

#34 Jackman

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 08:01

Man I miss Imola - I was seriously thinking about getting a cheap flight to Forli this weekend just to hang out in the environs despite there being no race this year.

Hell, I even enjoyed Imola hospital, which is saying something.

#35 Jodum5

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 13:25

Well Imola is a beautiful track (on TV as I've only seen it but obviously in person given the pictures) but it was a rather shitty F1 track as of late. Hopefully it'll be successful for other categories.

#36 jonpollak

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 13:51

The Three Great Stimulants
Jp pimps his USGP weekend

Ok..What do I want to write about?..
How the McLaren's were head, hands and feet ahead of everyone else and how this was supposed to be Ferrari's best chance?
(yeah right I'm the guy for that report huh...NOT)

How Jp keeps getting thrown out of all those places the rich people go?
Been There
Done That
Old jokes are just that...OLD
(PS.. the poor guy standing at the FOM security point had to pay a £250 deposit on his wardrobe)

No, this time I think I am going to talk about the most powerful thing in the world LOVE.

That's right... LOVE
So before you hit the little X in the top corner of your browser... take a breath and dig deep to the back of your mind.
Is there is any correlation to the passion you have for this 'thing' we obsess over and the what you hold dearest in your lives?
I bet there is.

To me.. Car Racing is like going to church.
The bastards even put it on a Sunday.
It IS my religion, along with music and the beauty of a woman, it pervades virtually every morsel of my being.
They are, for me, the three great stimulants

I hold the bizarre belief that the gods above actually guide a silly peripheral diversion like racing.
I also believe that if you love something to such an all encompassing and absorbing degree it becomes part of the fabric that drives it .
The power of the collective breath if you will....NO?
FAN POWER?..go on... it must exist other wise why are we here week in and week out?

For instance..
If I hold my breath till I turn blue the Ferrari's will crash and Milka will get Fernando's seat at Mclaren...Right?

Oh Dear... I can't help making fun of my own beliefs. (possibly the only way to stay sane in this myopic trance.)
God enjoys the self-deprecating..It means they "GET" life.

"They muddy their waters that they might appear deep"

Yeah no ****...and while perhaps the perception is that of someone on the shallow side,
Love drives my life and sees no sign of relenting any time soon.
I am easy prey for those who would pluck my heart strings.

I remember as a child, when my dad was working on the movie Grand Prix, I caught a glimpse of something that would enslave me forever.
A combination of 2 of these powerful forces in my life
Stick a fork in me Françoise..I'm DONE.

OK OK....enough
[Jp off rapturous, euphoric, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, blissful mode/]

I awoke on the Thursday morning to a dry mouth and a police sirens wail.
Ahh the joys of New York City.
The previous night had been spent celebrating the end of the Steely Dan US tour at a bar which advertised the following.

Time for a leisurely breakfast before my Carey Bus to LaGuardia
The man behind the counter was shouting the breakfast orders into a microphone which was connected to speakers all around the restaurant.
I kid you not he sounded just like Flavio...completely indiscernible
"Give me amber, soft regular, over whiskey down"
Whiskey down?...Good lord...I ordered scrambled eggs...it's 10am
I was reading the equivalent of the free METRO paper and saw that they had a 3 page spread on Leilani Münter.
She was talking about the recently raised profile of IndyCar racing as opposed to NASCAR.
The article talked about how her future lie in Open Wheel racing rather than fenders.
I called a few folks in the know and they said she is all set for an Indy Pro Series drive later this year...

The guy next to me made some crack about Danica and how the IRL must be working on getting 12 girls in so they could flog a Christmas calendar.
I turned to the back page of the paper, out of habit, to see my lovely San Antonio taking more heat for being boring.
This john frickin' maddens me to no end. If these supposed sports writers had vision past there noses they would realise that it ain't the Spurs that should be taking the heat..It's "King LeBrick" .
But I digress....(how unusual)

I finished my meal and bid 'breakfast Flav' bon giorno..."I'm Greek damnit" he said.
A quick check of the old E-mail and a glance on Autosport.com showed a story of how Bernie feels the USA is not a market F1 HAS to be in.
Wonder what the manufacturers have to say about that?
He did mention that old Chestnut 'a race in New York City' which made me think of that GranTurismo4 track leading up Broadway around Columbus Circle then east bound on Central Park South turning right at the Plaza hotel and back down 5th ave.

At the airport I hopped on the first flight to Indy I could blag my way onto.
(LGA is famous for shutting down the airport at the first sniff of bad weather)

San Antonio SPURS WIN...cue massive celebrations....well, not too massive as we gotta wake up early for Friday practice. I loved the SPEED channel Thursday show. Varsha really knows how to get the drivers to relax and open up.

My friend Spence , who so graciously offered for me to share his room at the Indy branch of the Moscow White House, said he was bringing another serious fan with him.
When they arrived at the hotel room from their reconnaissance manoeuvres at the Conrad bar I met RACE ANGEL
I felt nothing out of the ordinary upon that first encounter yet I was unaware of the effect our combined power would soon have.

We set off to the track early on Friday Morning and upon arrival I picked up my KangarooTV.
They certainly have that together now.
I got my own rent a model dressed in skin tight black spandex to show me how it worked.
I kept asking for additional instructions until she realized I was just staring at the protruding outline of her lower waist.
"NEXT PLEASE" she said.

Race Angel quipped she didn't know Camel was still involved with F1
I shot back at her..."they are only keeping a toe in it."
From that moment on I knew we would be clicking.

So off we went to watch the start of FP1
Race Angel and I sat on the grass mound at entrance to the banked turn and soaked up the sun and sound

I noticed a rather large influx of guys taking pictures of her as we were watching practice .
She seemed to deal with it in her stride and I was too busy watching the form as drivers screamed out of the last right hander up onto the banking to notice.

Cool place to see the first session I thought. Quite a few drivers let it hangout a little too much, sliding wide onto the grass or runoff area.

We discussed our thoughts after the session and remarked on who we wanted to do well.
I recanted my usual preferences to her and she proffered that while Fernando was her fav she wanted Heikki to do well.
(little did I know what was going to transpire)

We all moved into the empty stands to eat our lunch and discussed how after the accident she saw last weekend, she was amazed Robert did not have a sore head.
Yeah, I told her, I was transported directly back to '99 and the feeling I had when my friend Greg Moore was killed at Fontana.
The Angel said she knew 'Bobby would be all right' cuz she said a prayer as it was happening.
The Angel also said that from where she was sitting she could see Scott Speed in one of those camping chairs just a few feet away from he retaining wall as the BMW came smashing into it. When we got back to the hotel we scoured the net for THIS PICTURE.

After a nap we hit the town.
We whisked past the looky-loos and rubber neckers that crowded the sidewalk and strode right into the Conrad hotel bar for a few cocktails.

We watched as Bernie and Slavica stood canoodling while waiting fro the lift to the penthouse.
I winked at Slavica just before the elevator arrived and saw a rather tired looking Flavio,Yes the real one, who sashayed aboard for their ascent to the heavens.
My pal Sean sent me text me shortly after and we hooked up a few minutes later.
He had in tow a group of guys from MTV3 in Finland in including the wonderful Oskari Saari
We discussed all matter of cosmic occurrences and when Race Angel mentioned her being Canadian they laughed that her presence was definitely the deciding factor in Heikki's performance in Canada. I wondered out loud if Race Angel could be of any benefit this week?
As the night wore on we had quite a lot to drink and we ended up baying at the moon and doing Indian peyote chants... I think?
I looked at Race Angel before the nights end she looked back at me as if to say 'Yeah..Let's effect positive a result'
SO... I pitched the idea to Finnish TV hoping the 'bird time' we just burnt was prepaid as I offered up my RACE ANGEL to the gods of RACING LOVE

Saturday Morning dawned hot and more humid than the day before.
Just before we left the hotel we watched the Start of the 24 hrs of LeMans
When arrived trackside we went high up the South East Vista stand to watch FP3 and were very impressed by the teenager and his Blitz run to P2

Just before the end of the session I took Race Angel to the footbridge on the back straight where she heard the cars pass underneath her. The smile on her face was only upstaged by the sight of goose pimples on her arms and legs.

During the course of the 3 days I try and look for places to position my little Art Project pictures around the Speedway. These pictures are scattered around the world in places that mean something to me. They are in the form of annoyingly impossible to remove stickers. Clickez ici to visit Jp's Art Project.

We moved back to the front staight grandstand after Lunch and settled in for the enthralling qualifying session.
A varied assortment of fans were in attendance up there. Haters and Lovers were in ample supply.
I spied my friend Jim, who works for FOM productions in the distance, on top of a crane and thought of the hours I used to spend chained to a lighting desk with no restroom breaks. Takes a very Zen state to endure that situation.

We were hoping all our favourites do well and when Heikki qualified 4 places ahead of his team mate The Angel and I looked at each other and said
...could it have been our offering to the gods last night?...
I for one was pleased my pick had grabbed the pole and we all waived and cheered as he passed by in the car that ferried him from weigh bridge to the press conference at the other end of the long pit lane.
With that luscious result in the bag we headed back to our hotel to freshen up and watch more LeMans action.

So, armed with RaceAngel kitted out in in a cute lil' skirt and high heals we set off into town to further our mission of good karma. Just before we started gathering at the now de rigeur Conrad Hotel Bar we went in search of my pal Rossco and, as is now the way the weekend was going,as soon as the hotel van dropped us near Monument circle I said we are looking for a guy in a green shirt. 'Fat chance of finding that in this crowd' was the general consensus, when I closed the door to that van as it drove off I turned to see Rossco sitting at the table of an alfresco restaurant less than 5 feet from me!!!!..'Hi Jon' he said and I was like...How much closer can the planets align?.
We walked over to the hotel where the crowd of star gazers now spilled out into the street. As RaceAngel and I walked through the wolf whistling throngs we settled into bar to find that most of the drivers had decided to call it an early night...except of course Vitantonio who was working the crowd of barflies like Lee Evans at Blackpool. A jazz guitarist was playing on a little stage there and every 3rd song was a Steely Dan cover...Oh the Irony!!

Oskari arrived and we went for a meal next door. Just before my meal arrived I took a phone call from a friend. The reception was poor in the restaurant so I walked outside. As I was finishing up the call who should stroll across the street with security guard stopping traffic to smooth the way? Bernie, Slavica and Flavio again.
This time I said a few words and offered my hand to Bernie...He laughed and shook it. As he and Slavica walked past a rather wasted Flavio saw me counting my fingers and started laughing. He mumbled something indecernable yet again...It sure sounded like "Give me amber soft regular over whiskey down".

I left RaceAngel to go about her magic.

Sunday morning arrived and although I had little sleep,due to extended LeMans watching, I felt rather refreshed.
Spence however was feeling under the weather and decided he would drop us near the track and come back later to pick us up after the race. I said this was not a good idea knowing the feeble Indianapolis Police traffic plans. But he insisted. So off we went and as we did Race Angel got a text saying a 'pass' was waiting for her....
She smiled and said how fortunate she was . I said fortune has nothing to do with it and gave her a high five.

We got inside and the Angel went off to meet her destiny.

I went off in search of my pal Rossco who had given me a pass to meet him in the Hulman suite for Sunday.
On the way there the temperature was soaring into the high 90f mark and a few folks were passing out.
I saw a kid purposely knock over a large cart of ice just so his Mom could cool down.
Needless to say everyone got in on the act and soon the ice was just warm water.

I needed to get going and stop lolly gagging in the atmosphere but just as I was going up the stairs to the suite I got a call from a friend in England saying ..."Jp that obnoxious James Allen is at it again. Could you PLEASE go find him and drive a stake through his heart?"

So, knowing the broadcast booths are right under the start finish grandstands, off I went on my mission of mercy.
As I arrived there I found a queue of people with knives, daggers, hatchetts and blow torches attempting to bust down the door and save the world from this terrible fate...when It was my turn a young black man grabbed me and said ...Oh No you don't granddad.. it's MY turn to save the world
"Right you are my son "I said and let him fight the good fight and set off to that suite.

As soon as I arrived I was greeted by Rossco sitting comfortably in the air conditioned luxury, plate of food in hand. We gorged on all the free food and when the race was seconds away from starting took our seats in the first row overlooking the fastest part of the track.
Speaking of great seats, the girl standing next to me made it difficult to concentrate.
But just then Race Angel called me on the phone, as if she was monitoring my gaze toward something besides the track, to say mission accomplished she got the pass and had made sure the results would be to our liking.
Bless her,..I think she enjoyed herself back in the paddock and wherever else she went.

I didn't miss a thing even though I had 37 free beers and countless trips to the toilet ..(I knew that thing would come in handy!)

The race was great. Mr.K got "best of the rest" thanks to Race Angel.
Lewis was superb. We witnessed, right below us, Alonso's attempt to pass.
Some other observations were Davidson passing Jenson, Fisi clawing through the pack and Vettel getting a well deserved point on his first F1 drive by passing Webber.
I watched the Press conference at the suite bar and then headed to the exit to find RaceAngel.
I found her by the souvenir stands and we embraced celebrating our great day.
We strolled leisurely basking in the glory of a wonderful time...It was at that moment I caught her eyes looking into mine and
:love: BLAMMO :love: I was being strangled by cupids choke hold
OMG!!! My heart got real heavy and my body tingled . I had to arrest my emotions there and then before I went any further.
As we set off to the hotel we called Spence who was stuck in traffic.
We decided to walk down 10th street for a while and as each taxi passed us by full I stuck my thumb out as kind of a joke but with Race Angel by my side it was less than 1 minute before a trusting race fan from Chicago picked us up and delivered us to the hotel.

Before she left on her long trip back to heaven RaceAngel and I promised to go to to more races with each other.

I can't wait

Edited by jonpollak, 01 March 2021 - 17:06.

#37 Jackman

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 14:30

Bravo sir! Now I don't feel so bad that my RB friend didn't come through until too late...

#38 kar

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 14:36

Gold :up:

#39 Bumper

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 14:43

Sounds like you made a new friend Jp ;)

Cool story as ever.


#40 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 14:48

Uh oh, someone sounds jealous.

#41 Chris G.

Chris G.
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Posted 21 June 2007 - 16:14


#42 Rubens Hakkamacher

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 17:27

Excellent, as per usual...

Love the contrasts, the introspective preamble that sets up mystery of "what did he see...?" that follows...Inclusion of spontaneous moments like Lemans on tv, the serving of lunch, combined with geek images (ITV, Suite interior), the regales of Close Encounters with Illustrious Beings is a nice gumbo. The arc of the structure feels classic as well.

Brevity in writing that still conveys the right.... hmmm... I'm sure there's a french word for what I want to express...? The "vibe of the instantaneous, transient moment" - is a great skill to have.

#43 jonpollak

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 18:20

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Uh oh, someone sounds jealous.

Well 'someone' shouldn't be....
it's a synonym for her .

#44 sailqueen

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Posted 21 June 2007 - 19:27

:clap: Brilliant!!! Great race report JP. Sorry we missed you in Indy but you obviously had a ton of fun.

Cheers man. :p

#45 F1Lurker

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Posted 22 June 2007 - 15:57

Cool Story!!!!

#46 gerry nassar

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 01:44


Brilliant as usual JP! :up:

#47 philhitchings

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Posted 25 June 2007 - 07:22

Keep it live JP :cool: :up:


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Posted 26 June 2007 - 15:36

Originally posted by sailqueen
:clap: Brilliant!!! Great race report JP. Sorry we missed you in Indy but you obviously had a ton of fun.

Cheers man. :p

Agreed. Missed you, Jp. You should post this on the LOTI boards. :)


#49 manmower

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 18:16

You wouldn't happen to have anymore pictures of Françoise Hardy on the set of Grand Prix.

Would you?

And whose Ferrari is that she seems to be having a nap in, and what model is it? I seem to recall the movie didn't use the real F1 cars of the time?

#50 jonpollak

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 19:40

Well then...
Having not been to a race, or in the mood to convey my thoughts on this site, for a while I thought this thread might have been "archived" in the switch over to the new format.
Nope...it's still "LIVE"

So ...I had better post something then hadn't I?


You wouldn't happen to have anymore pictures of Françoise Hardy on the set of Grand Prix.

Would you?

Check this thread manmower

Edited by jonpollak, 04 January 2016 - 22:34.