Besides being a reporter for The Commercial, I am also a fan of pretty much anything that features a large group of vehicles racing around some sort of track.

Besides being a reporter for The Commercial, I am also a fan of pretty much anything that features a large group of vehicles racing around some sort of track.


One of my favorite motor sports series is Formula One. My guess is that Formula One automobile racing is not at the top of most people’s favorite sporting events. As of now there are no American drivers, which tends to limit its interest in this part of the world. In addition, to be a Formula One fan in the central United States means either waking up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning or staying up until the early morning hours overnight Saturday to watch races televised live from such far-flung locales as Australia, Monaco, Japan and the United Kingdom.


A wonderful thing happened in 2012 with the inaugural running of the United States Grand Prix from the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas race facility on the eastern edge of Austin, Texas. To finally be able to watch a race at the civilized hour of 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon was a welcome treat.


While I was unable to be in Austin last year, I was determined to make the trip in 2013. This past weekend it became a reality as I made my way down to central Texas to witness the amazing international spectacle that is Formula One. I am in awe of the magnificent machines fielded by such names as Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren, as well as several relative upstarts, including the as of late seemingly unstoppable Infiniti Red Bull Racing team.


The best talent from around the world, including engineers, machinists, technicians and mechanics create cars that are both technological wonders and at the same time incredible works of art. These creations are the fruition of every little boy’s (and yes some little girls’) fantasy of the ultimate go-kart. Open wheel and open top; whipping almost instantly from a standstill to more than 100 mph on their way to more than 200 mph and back down again to barely 30 mph in less distance than the length of most residential driveways.


Ear plugs for drivers, pit crew members, officials and spectators alike are more than a simple recommendation on race day; they are an absolute requirement, unless you happen to enjoy having your hearing permanently damaged by the earth-shaking roar and whine of what I can only describe as a herd of enormous angry hornets roaring by lap after lap for two hours. Now, don’t get me wrong; this is not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is a great thing!


My seat for the 2013 F1 U.S. Grand Prix was near the top of a grandstand positioned with a view of the cars as they crested into view over a rise and then raced downhill before being forced to rapidly decelerate into a hairpin curve. As each car roared out of the turn, its driver punched his accelerator to the floor, unleashing a thunderous roar that reminded me for all the world of the sounds made by the pod racers featured in the Star Wars films of George Lucas. These cars roared by with such incredible force that I could actually feel the sound waves wash over me as they passed.


Infiniti Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel — who secured his fourth consecutive World Championship at the Indian Grand Prix in New Delhi Oct. 27 — was the winner of the Austin race, making it eight wins in a row for the 26-year-old German. His teammate, Australian Mark Webber, who is retiring from F1 at the end of the 2013 season, came in third and thanked the fans for their support by launching into a series of spinning burnouts next to my grandstand during the victory lap. That it was unexpected made Webber’s performance all the more exciting.


In keeping with the international flavor of F1, I had the pleasure of speaking to fellow fans from the United Kingdom and Italy as well as quite a few folks from right here in the U. S. A. It was an incredible experience and one that I hope to enjoy again in the future.