If you told me I would turn into a Formula One car racing fan last week, I would have called you a liar. In fact, I would have bet a lot of money that I would walk away thinking the event was a whole huge waste of time, but then I would have lost that bet – BIG TIME! Here are some of the myths debunked and why women love Formula 1 racing:
Myth #1: Formula 1 is for Men only
Expecting to be one of the few women attending the Formula 1 events, I was in for a shocker when we checked into our hotel, The Barton Creek Resort. Women were everywhere dressed in super cool Circuit of the Americas’ Formula 1 sponsored logo shirts and or jackets. I dismissed this group thinking they were family members of the sponsors or drivers of the race. How wrong I was because there were women of all ages, ethnicities, and nationalities everywhere at the racetrack. All 50 states were represented and 40 foreign countries and from what I could see, the crowd looked to be at least 30% women in attendance. Women into fashion will love the logo gear for sale which is very chic and feminine (flattering cuts) but still very similar looking to the male counterpart fashion, thus authentic to the sport.
Myth #2: It is not really a sport
How difficult could it be to drive around a track for a couple of hours? We’ve all had those days where our commutes to work turn into stop and go torture sessions. This going around and around a track must be a piece of cake. Wrong again! The speed at which these athletes drive (200 mph), the duration for which they drive for (56 laps or two hours, whichever comes first) and the sometimes sweltering heat that comes along with the territory mean that these drivers must have incredible concentration and stamina. A split second lapse in concentration not only enables another driver to pass them, it could mean a deadly crash for all involved. For a couple of hours you are strapped into a death machine where the only time you stop to adjust is for 5 seconds or less – pit stops can take less than 3 seconds (including replacing all four tires!)
Myth #3: It is boring watching someone go around and around on a track
Watching on television gives viewers very little perspective on the drama and excitement that goes along with the Formula 1 Races in person. Maybe it is the volume of noise the engines produce when whizzing past, combined with the details you can see with your naked eye verses the lens of the cameras’ covering it for TV, that heighten the thrill of seeing these machines in person (2 g-forces on drivers when accelerating and 6 g-forces when braking – or twice the force put on astronauts during Space Shuttle launches). There is very little wiggle room for drivers to pass one another so it happens rarely, but when it does right in front of you, it’s amazing! The crowd of 117,000 universally cries, “Oooooo” and those cheering for their favorite team or driver either follow that up with a cheer or sigh in unison. The thrill of victory is palpable and the agony of defeat is heartbreaking when live.
Myth #4: It is not a family sport and reserved for the “Ricky Bobby’s” of the US
Yup, guilty as charged. I was super wrong on this one on every level. The only familiarity I had with car racing prior to this weekend was watching Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby and the cheesy people portrayed in the movie. Although I knew that car racing in Monte Carlo attracted a wealthy crowd for the Monaco Grand Prix, I had no idea how popular the sport was around the world and with every socio-economic group. The crowd I witnessed in Austin was an eclectic one. Whole families attended with their kids sporting the latest Formula 1 smart looking t-shirts or jerseys with jeans, and the International crowd was a super chic off-the-runway, jet-setting, great looking group of folks who also wore logo gear with sophisticated designer jeans or slacks. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and very conducive to taking kids along. Women with kids love the layout of the event where you can spread out a blanket to picnic and walk to different parts of the park where there are hands on events for the little ones when they need to get the ants out of their pants. If you ask me, it is a better sport for families than most others in terms of civility of the fans!
Thrilling speeds, drama and fantastic fans made my inaugural visit to the Formula 1 event a winner in my book. I would attend again in a heartbeat!
Photos property of Priscilla Pilon unless otherwise noted. Must obtain permission before