A lads’ weekend to the Spa Grand Prix… and me

I wasn’t originally part of the foursome headed to the 2009 Spa Grand Prix but when one of the quartet became ill, someone needed to step in, and I, of course, was happy to oblige.

I’d been going out with my boyfriend for a couple of months so what better time to go with him on a lads’ weekend.

All four of us piled into a small car in London, chugged down to Dover, ferried it to Calais and drove to Belgium for a night in Bruges.

Ferry Dover to Calais

Boys (and me, photographer) on tour.

Bruges is wonderful, I’d been a few times and it never disappoints.

Bruges buldings

Bruges architecture (and a couple of wallies).

Famous for its Belgian beer we headed to a pub with a gazillion types that had the boys’ salivating as they perused a thick menu full of wonderfully named beverages.

I asked for a wine list. The barman looked at me. ‘Red or white?’

Bruges-Spa-Grand-Prix

In Bruges… you drink beer, alright.

Onwards 250km to the track at Francorchamps on the Saturday we forgoed the qualifying race and set up camp for the night right next to the track.

Evening excitement
Night-time entertainment at said campsite included watching some fellas laying on a steadily disintegrating sofa as it was dragged behind a car being driven round the field.

Campsite-Spa-GP

Another use for a hatchback…

Boys-at-campsite-Spa-GP

The boys were impressed.

Oh, and when I say the campsite was right next to the track, I mean right next to as in the 7am alarm call was the guttural, bone-shaking roar of a Formula One engine. Good morning.

Race day
So Sunday, race day, we set off to find somewhere good to sit. A good view on a stretch of the track where some good over-taking could happen was our prime requirement.

The opposite of these folks, basically.

Fans'-view-Spa-GP

A race lasts around two hours, yeah?

Find your own flaming tree, alright?

A friend from work was there in an official capacity for Sport magazine and came over to say hi, stayed for three minutes then wafted back off to the VIP area for free food, comfy seats and a cracking view of the track.

Lawro Barretto Spa Grand Prix

Lawro graced us with his presence for three minutes before unsurprisingly retreating to the VIP area.

What, you mean you didn’t want to stay with us here, Lawro?

Fans-at-Spa-Grand-Prix

THE most uncomfortable place I’ve watched sport from… EVER. A slope and stones.

Nevertheless, we had a good view.

We particularly enjoyed the first lap when we waited for British drivers Jenson Button, then leading the championships, and Lewis Hamilton to peg it round.

We waited. Watched all the other cars go round. Then waited some more.

Turns out they both crashed on the first lap. Didn’t see them at all. But that’s okay fellas, no really.

One vision
Our experience would have been enhanced if we had managed to find a place closer to the big screens, which give you some idea of what’s going on during the race.

Big-screen-Spa-Grand-Prix

Drama often unfolds at the opposite side of the track to where you’re sitting.

Turns out, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen won with Force India’s Giancarlo Fisichella second and Seabstian Vettel of Red Bull, third.

We did watch as Rubens Barrichello’s car started emitting smoke, which we knew was not a good sign. Apparently the car then caught fire in parc fermé but not before he’d finished the race in seventh.

What’s to love? Plenty
But what I love about being there is the noise thrumbing through every fibre of your being, the camaraderie of spectators and a better understanding of the speed and the forces drivers go through driving round the famously undulating track.

The corner known as Eau Rouge, “is one of those fabled corners that drivers and fans always talk about,” says Button, “but it really is that special”.

Watch my video below – it really was cool.

If I may be so bold as to recommend further blogs like this:
Bear claws and cat paws – Canada winter sports just got interesting.
I go surfing and turtle saving in Costa Rica
I head to Snowbombing, the ‘mountain-top Glastonbury’

Author: Jo Gunston

Roving blogging superfan shares behind the scenes stories of her sports life and the best of those from like-minded souls.

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