A New Wife, A Honeymoon, And A Grand Prix (Part One)
With the Belgian F1 race imminent this weekend, I’m of a mind to tell you about my trip to Spa Francorchamps, which happened during my honeymoon in 2009. Now I know what you all are saying out loud at this very moment, which is, “What a cold callous insensitive bastard! What newlywed husband takes his wife to a sporting event on their honeymoon?” And you would be absolutely right to say that, except for the fact that it was not my idea to attend a race during the honeymoon. It was my wife’s.
Here is a little background. Tricia, my wife, likes sports, she’s not necessarily a hard core fan mind you, but is an alumni season ticket holder to UCLA’s basketball team the Bruins, has followed the LA Dodgers for along time and knows a good bit about American football. It did not take her very long to get seduced by the third most watched sport in the world right behind soccer and tennis (check that fact on your own if you want).
She did miss Alonso’s coming of age while he was racing for Renault and winning back-to-back championships, defeating Kimi at McLaren and then Michael at Ferrari, since I met her after all that happened. So her introduction was Alonso’s time at McLaren when his teammate was the new kid on the block, one Lewis Hamilton and we all know how that went. There was tension and drama with Lewis right from the start of the season, culminating with Alonso staying too long in his pit box and scuttling Lewis’s final attempt for pole at the GP of Hungary in 2007. Then the cheating scandal with Ferrari and McLaren which resulted in Max Mosley and the FIA fining Ron Dennis and McLaren 100 million dollars (holy shit). Lastly, underdog Kimi scoring enough points in the final race of the season to claim the championship by just one point over both Fernando and Lewis (with Lewis winning the tiebreaker due to having more higher placed finishes). What a year.
Tricia’s education continued in the 2008 season, which was to include Lewis and Massa and the close battle between these two and their respective teams, once again McLaren and Ferrari. More drama ensues. Massa drives off with the fuel rig in tow in Singapore. Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds get caught for being complete morons due to “Pique-Crash, and Race FixingGate” at the same race, although this would not come to light until the following year. Then for an amazing, Hollywood-could-not-have-scripted-it-better finish, we have the last race of the year on Massa’s home turf in Brazil, and the championship comes down not just to the last lap but the last TURN! My wife is pretty much hooked now and so Formula One has bewitched yet another American. And that is just fine by me.
By the time we are engaged and planning our honeymoon, my wife, out of the blue, says, “You know, we should attend a Grand Prix in Europe if one coincides with our travel plans,” and I think to myself, am I dreaming, it just sounded as though my wife-to-be suggested, beyond all logic, that we should go to a race on our honeymoon. Now at this point I am pretty sure that there is a race and I am pretty sure I know where it will take place, meaning it does coincide with our plans. The only thing I don’t know is if we are close enough to get there. She goes on to look up the schedule in her very efficient way and pronounces that since we are going to be in Amsterdam when the Belgian race takes place and it is only a four hour drive, and we’ll have access to a car, it would be silly not to take advantage of this opportunity. At which point I say to myself, “It looks at though I married the right girl.”
To all of this I reply, using my now audible voice, “Baby, if that is what you want to do, you won’t get any complaints from me.” And so tickets are bought and plans are modified to accommodate our new adventure, including booking a charming farmhouse B&B in the Belgian countryside. And although Fernando is nowhere near being able to challenge for a podium, let alone the win, it is nevertheless very exciting that I will be attending Spa, one of the truly great races on the Formula One calendar with my new wife Tricia.
Coming Up: Part Two, Attending My First European Grand Prix. -jp