Have you ever been at a race, had a great time, and then looked online to realize that everyone had actually hated that event? Or, alternatively, you were absolutely miserable because you got sunburned or frozen or way too drunk or what have you, which means you didn’t appreciate what was apparently a very good event? I want to know. Tell me how your perception of a race changes when you’re actually at the event.
I found myself having a good time at last weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, but I think part of that was just the fact that I’d had a few drinks and was there in person, where you’re not listening to a goofy or distracting broadcast, or you’re not watching a birds-eye view that shows how far apart the cars are.
That being said, I’ve also been to some boring races. I went to the Canadian Grand Prix back in 2017, and it was cold and miserable, and with no heat in the tires, nothing really ever happened. I cannot tell you a single thing that happened that race because I spent most of my time counting down the laps because it meant I’d be able to get out of the biting wind and rain. It was also the same weekend as Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden’s awful Texas Motor Speedway crash; those two were my favorite IndyCar drivers at the time, and I couldn’t get over feeling sick. And we stayed in a hostel with a man who snored so exceptionally loud that I don’t think I slept a wink. Maybe the Canadian GP was good—I have no idea. I thought it was awful.
It does, I think, have a lot to do with the experience (obviously). Do I bitch about having to wake up early for F1 races? Yes. Do I still proceed to wake up at 4am during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend, one of the few weekends airing at a reasonable time for us Americans, to drink mimosas until the gates open, then run full bore to the general admission zones to secure my best spot? Also yes. Would I want to get there that early if I was going to the race alone? Probably not.
All that other stuff tends to impact our experience of an event more than anything else. It helps the racing feel a hell of a lot better because you’re already in a good mindset and not, y’know, being jaded while watching from the couch.