Race day, the day we’ve all been building up to and, despite the organisational difficulties that have come before, I actually feel reasonably prepared for what we’re about to do.
We’re about to help run an F1 Grand Prix.
I am still dressed in combats and a teeshirt, the FIA having utterly flunked out in providing me with a pair of fire-proof overalls that I can actually wear. I have a chat with one of the bosses and between the two of us we agree that I’ll work in what I’m wearing and that “If there’s any chance of fire, stay away.”
Oh trust me mate, I’m a green-suit, I’m a world champion in keeping myself safe at the possible detriment of others. Also? If I make too much of a fuss about things, I have a nasty feeling I’ll end up in the clinic handing out Immodium to Marshalls. I want to be track side.
The day trips past at a fair lick until tea-time when the Formula One boys are scheduled to race. The crowds pile in to the stands and, from our vantage point at the bottom of the VIP “Sun Tower” we watch a steady stream of helicopters and limos deliver a steadier stream of tall men in dishdash arrive, flanked by shaven headed gorillas in black suits.
The F1 cars have zipped past all afternoon, practicing or qualifying or something. I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned cars go vroom-nyeow past us, they’ve been doing that all week; other than the audience of 50,000 people – how is tonight going to be any different?
Bryn and Mark plug their laptops into the cigarette lighter on the car and hijack the WiFi from the Sun Tower, there are websites out there that track races minute by minute and I listen to their excited chatter, recognising the occasional name or team.
Personally, I don’t even know what colour our team is wearing.
Lewis Hamilton drops out because his car breaks, or something. I wait excitedly to see if he’ll call the RAC to come and tow him back to the pit, but like the big spoilsport that he is he just casually cruises back to his team mates and goes off for an early bath. Other than that, I’m completely oblivious to the race’s progress and I wonder how spectators manage. Is there a commentary, or are they, like us, just watching cars going vroom-nyeow? Do they go home and read the results online?
The race ends, chequered flags wave and flash and the hotel alongside the track flashes checks across its illuminated surface. In the excited crowds that throng the pit lane, nobody notices Bryn and I slipping in. We stand under the balcony as the winners are presented with bottles of champagne and it’s only because I take a short step backwards that I avoid tasting it as they spray bubbles over the crowd. It strikes me that there are 50,000 people here today who would kill to be standing where I am now.
And then suddenly, it’s done. We make one last lap of the track and head back to the clinic, where the whole place is a flurry of staff stuffing clothes into kit bag from their lockers and bug out to the gig.
Because the F1 was great.
But we have a date with Aerosmith to be getting to.
At security I discover the best way to smuggle a camera into the gig is to bury it in my bag first under my stinking, sweaty clothes and then laying a tourniquet and stethoscope on top of them all. The guard zips open my bag and stops.
(well…not really, but…)
“No, no camera. Laundry.”
He tentatively reaches out for the clothes before the whiff hits him. He zips it shut and waves me through. Thank god for lying and smuggling. What’s more alarming is that at no point did they find my shears/hammer and lock knife. Security indeed. Pshaw.
It turns out I know more Aerosmith songs than I thought and with the lubrication of the occasional light ale, we become increasingly raucous. The photos will remain private for the sake of our professional reputations.
Back to the OV for dinner an drinks, I chat to Gus and Hurls about the Desert Challenge 2010 and they let me know that this year’s team will be cherry-picked from those participants of previous years’. I learn that my strop-fest over evacuating a patient who wound up having a skull fracture has earned me a space already.
Not having to get up in the morning, we all congregate in “the green room” a collection of sofas and tables that have been set up around the cabins. It’s pushing 0300 before I roll back to my mattress for my final night.