What Makes An American Grand Prix

Illustration for article titled What Makes An American Grand Prix

Formula One, like soccer, is an international sport and thus not for Americans. At least that's what they tell you. It's what some people need you to believe. Will the young people here, stretching over the rails as a vintage Lotus screams by, feel the same way? I think they won't.


Sure, the trappings of American-ism are here in Austin. There's the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Van Halen blaring over the speakers. The shitty beer and rich poseur assholes. There's a large contingent of people who don't have the context or the history to understand what they're looking at, whereas I'm sure some of the German fans who made the trip could tell you exactly who drive every vintage F1 car in every season.

But does it matter? History begins anew each day and the people who came here fresh to the sport will start their own history. They'll remember the winner, and maybe the losers. They'll remember that sound. Those smells.

They'll remember the tremor at the root of your body when the grid charges up turn one and it feels like every molecule of your existence is about to explode into a million pieces.

America, historically, has never gotten anything right the first time. We've had two constitutions, a massive civil war to correct a terrible evil, and we even made the Chevy Volt the Car of the Year once.

We've had bad F1 races, too, but we're removed from all that here.

What gives me hope now is that looking across at the suites and grandstands you see the expensive seats and they're mostly empty. But as you twist your head up the first turn to the general admission areas you see a mass of people. The lower the cost of your ticket, the higher probability you were here when the gates open. It's not that the rich shouldn't enjoy the race, it's that even in a society where so much is economically stratified, most people have access.


What makes this an American Grand Prix is the spirit of the people here, from different backgrounds, and different countries more than coexisting.

The League of Nations may not have worked, but here, this weekend in Austin, the Finns and Mexicans and Russians and Texans are united in a common joy.



We went last year and the best part of the event, at the track anyway, was making friends with the guys from Mexico City sitting in front of us. They had a Camelback full of whiskey. We had Cokes. We all shared. We sat there for two hours after the race to let traffic clear out and talked F-1, politics, aviation and more F-1. It was great fun.

When we went to the races at Indy it was fun talking with people from all over. You had the crazy Columbians rooting for JPM, the Brits and the Germans pulling for Schumacher. It was pretty great.

We aren't able to be there this year for a number of reasons, but we will try and get back. This is the first USGP we've missed since they started running at Indy. Today we are watching with four 6 year old, he is an Alonso fan, and our 3 year old, she is for Vettel, and we will enjoy the race in a different way. We are also trying to bring up a couple of kids where being interested in the wider world is a good thing. This is just a small part.