While he would really love it, he is not getting a car (or a motorcycle or a dirt bike) for his thirteenth birthday. So we did the next best thing we could think of. We took him to Laguna Seca to watch the American La Mans race. Not being race regulars, we just went with the goal of wandering around and watching the race from the different well-known view points. There were several classes of cars racing at the same time, which means there was a lot more passing than in most races. When there was the rare spin-out and a cloud of dust along the track, or a car went into the pits to change tires, the announcers really got amped up. For the most part, the cars roared around the track and I really had no idea how to keep track of what car was in what position for what class.
There were far more people working at the race in various capacities than there were spectators. There were ID checkers, parking lot attendants, bar tenders, race officials with the flags, vast amounts of pit crew and other kinds of crew who moved all the equipment around, medical and safety staff, announcers, TV crew, fried artichoke vendors, popcorn vendors, photographers, lots of people selling things from cars to car cleaning products to old car posters to fancy custom made earplugs. There were a few tall skinny girls in skintight "racing suits" posing for pictures, waiting for someone to buy them a drink, and I even saw one driver (there was no mistaking the suit nor the strut) walking around like a rooster. A diminutive rooster. This is such a foreign culture to me, there was so much to take in. The race itself was quite thrilling and deafeningly loud at close range near the fast straight of way and at the turns. I had no problem hearing everything quite well even with earplugs crammed in my ears as far as they would go.
|The birthday boy with a car that is much easier to photograph than one going 173 miles an hour.|
Laguna Seca is located in Monterey, California, and thus they offer Talbott chardonnay to sip on, in plastic glasses. The artichoke vendor ran out of artichokes. The food and drink choices were a disorienting mix of high end and county fair. The most popular snack seemed to be something touted as a French hot dog, which was about a quarter of a baguette hollowed out, with a long floppy hot dog jammed into it with at least a couple inches of the dog sticking out of the top. It was a phallic meal for an event screaming with testosterone. You would never see this in France. Even if I thought it would taste good, I'd be embarrassed to carry it around and eat it. Sadly I didn't get a photo of someone holding one of these.
|Race spectators with a great view and a can of cheese whiz|
|Four amateur photographers taking the same shot through a rare window in the chain link fence surrounding the track|
We did have fun and my son enjoyed it immensely. When we left, he said, "I can't wait to feel the connection between the steering wheel and the asphalt." He has three years before he turns 16 and will feel that connection. Even if he turns out to be an excellent driver, I think we are safe: he's already too tall to fit in that Ferrari cockpit.
|This was my favorite vehicle at the race, the Ferrari vespa. Cute and badass at the same time. Fast but not fast enough to catch on fire.|