FORMULA 1 ROLEX GRAN PREMIO DEL MADE IN ITALY E DELL’EMILIA-ROMAGNA 2022
My interest in Formula One has waxed and waned since the early sixties, spiking at milestones like Frankenheimer’s “Grand Prix” and camping at Watkins Glen to watch Jackie Stewart run away from the field in 1970 only to be felled by a broken oil line in his first race with the new Tyrrell 001, allowing an unknown youngster named Emerson Fittipaldi to win his first Grand Prix. Later, the Canadian Grand Prix became my home F1 race, Montreal being less than a five hour drive from Boston.
Naturally, when the Miami Grand Prix came to light I immediately put my name on the waiting list. The day BEFORE tickets were to go on sale the organizers emailed to let me know that the event was sold out. Just as well, because for ~ $350, a fraction of the single bleacher seat ticket price at the Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix, I got to enjoy a four-day pass to the Rolex 24 at Daytona (which included the Roar), a three-day pass to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and a four-day pass with infield parking at the WEC/IMSA Super Sebring weekend. Besides, I’ve never watched a road race from a grandstand in my life and can’t imagine ever doing so. Instead, I upgraded my home viewing options with the addition of F1 TV Pro. A few days ago a limited number of “campus” tickets – otherwise know as general admission – went on sale for $900 a pop. No doubt they’ve all been snapped up by now.
Fifty-two years have vaporized since I first set foot at a Formula One event, the aforementioned 1970 Watkins Glen Grand Prix. Standard procedure back then involved rounding up two or three friends and packing them into my 1971 Colorado orange BMW 2002, often at the last minute, and driving the 379 miles from Boston to the Glen, buying tickets at the gate. We’d live in and around the car for a muddy few days then trek back home, eventually making it to class at Mass Art, Harvard or Holy Cross. The color photos were taken in 1974, the year made famous by “The Bog Wants a Bus.”
The black & white photos from 1976 were taken in the middle of the night inside the Kendall Tech center at the Glen where for $2.00 – with nobody but a single, sleepy security guard around – one could literally reach out and touch Niki Lauda’s Ferrari, Mario Andretti’s Lotus, James Hunt’s McLaren or Jody Scheckter’s six-wheel Tyrrell. It seems unimaginable that such an experience ever happened, but it did.
The sums involved in Formula One today stagger the mind. From thedrive.com:
“According to Mercedes-AMG’s yearly report, as told by Motorsport, it took $459 million to make sure Lewis Hamilton and the Brackley squad won their seventh respective world titles.”
Naturally, tickets to a one-percenter gala like the one in Miami Gardens start at $900 (with no place to sit down) for the privilege of mingling with the greats, the near greats and the ingrates for a day. The broader theme – today’s wealth gap – affects more than motorsports but in the decades since Formula One made its last appearance at the Glen I’ve found ways to satisfy my need for the smell of racing fuel and the sound of popping downshifts that simply doesn’t translate via mic to my TV… without breaking the bank. For instance: the Roar, with its infield parking and garage access. Or 8:00 Friday morning at St. Pete when the first IndyCar ladder series hits the track against the stunning backdrop of Tampa Bay. Or Super Sebring, with back-to-back world-class enduros and tons of support races.
Grumpy old fartism aside, I eagerly await the Miami Grand Prix, which I’ll enjoy from my sofa. Check out this virtual flyover/flythrough of the Miami International Autodrome nearing completion for the first of two visits the Formula One circus will make to the States in 2022 – May 6 through 8 – with a third to follow on the Vegas strip in 2023.
A world away from slogging through a muddy forest to watch the Wee Scott streak by a dozen feet away with nobody in sight behind him, no?