Still tripping down memory lane

The first Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season is in three weeks.  Ooooh, I can’t wait.

Last month I posted about my experiences at the 2005 US Grand Prix.  That story got something like 500 hits in the days right after I posted it.  That was kind of a surprise.  I’m not used to people actually reading this thing.

That post also got me thinking, much more fondly, of the 2006 US Grand Prix where the organizers bent over backwards to say they were sorry about 2005 and could they please make it up to us?

I mentioned in a previous post that I had once thrown up from excitement before meeting Fernando Alonso.  This is that story.

So while I was surfing the F1 forums and whatnot trying to make our plans that year I discovered that there would be driver autograph sessions on Thursday, during pit walkabout.  Driver.  Autograph.  Sessions.  Oh.  My.  God.  One of the drivers scheduled to participate was the lovely and talented Fernando Alonso.  I love him.

Needless to say, this was now priority number one for the weekend.  But first, what to wear?  I needed something to make me look skinny and cute.  I knew he would barely look at me, and I knew he wouldn’t really be paying attention, but I didn’t want him to look up and think to himself “wow that woman is really fat” only, of course, he would have been thinking that in Spanish (he’s from Spain).

The details said they would be handing out wristbands for the autographs starting at 8am, and that doors to the Speedway would open at 7am.  I decided I needed to be in line at 5am.  Tom is the best sport ever.

I woke up at four, and made Tom get up too.  I showered and made myself skinny and cute, and Tom tried not to kill me.  Then we got in the car and headed for the track.  But wait!  Our usual parking spot (The Speedway Methodist Church) was not open for business.  Why oh why?  I’ll tell you why, because it was Five O-Clock in the Morning!

At this point I was an absolute nervous wreck.  Tom suggested I run into the gas station across from the speedway and ask about parking.  So I did.  I ran inside and asked in my most hysterical voice “do you know where we can park?”  I’m not sure they even understood me.  They said, “uh, no”.  Now I was moving beyond hysterical into sone unknown territory of stress non-management.  I went back to the car.  Tom took one look at me and said “you threw up didn’t you?”  Yes, yes I did.  Oh, like you’ve never puked from nerves ever in your life.  Jeez.

To shorten the story, Tom dropped me off and went to park the car.  I stood in line chatting with the other crazy people in line so early and waited for them to open the gates. 

Then at seven, the gates opened and I ran.  I ran like I have never run before, because I never have run before.  I don’t believe in running.  It is my firmly held belief that you should only run if someone is chasing you or you are fleeing a burning building.

There was running.  There was a lot of running.  There were a lot of people doing a lot of running.  Oh the crowds.  Oh the excitement.  Oh the searing pain in my side and the throbbing in my knees and ankles from running in cute sandals.  Finally I reached my goal.  The wristband tables.  But I couldn’t find Alonso’s line!  Ohno ohno ohno!  I ran up to a track volunteer and asked, or maybe more like shrieked “where is the line for Alonso?!?”  At least, that’s what I thought I said.  Judging by the look he gave me, I might have been speaking in tongues.


I finally found the right table and dove for my spot.  I was first in line!  First in line!  Can you believe it?  I was doubled over, gasping for breath and I asked the lady behind the table “is this the Alonso line?”  She said yes and I held out my wrist to be wrist-banded.  I still have it.  Here’s a picture.


It is my luckiest lucky charm. 

I called Tom and told him I was first in line.  It was still only just after 7am in Indiana, which meant it was too early to call anyone else.  So I just stood there happily shaking and trying to catch my breath.  That took a while.  I had to stand there for almost an hour because they were not supposed to hand out the wristbands until 8am.  While I was waiting I chatted with the other people in line, and the track volunteers.  At one point a man came up the line asking if anybody wanted to sell their spot in line.  I told him he didn’t have enough money to buy my spot.

When the time came for the actual autographs I was a happy happy bag of nerves.  I could hardly speak I was so overcome with excitement.  (I knew that would happen).  When my turn came I was beyond shaking, I was vibrating.  I managed to squeak (literally squeak) hello and thank you as he signed my copy of F1 Racing Magazine, but that was it.  So he didn’t think I was fat (I’m assuming), just an idiot.

I don’t remember a single other thing that happened that weekend.

Post Script – I got his autograph again in 2007.  I did better that time.  I didn’t throw up, and I actually managed to speak to him.  Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what I said to him.  Probably something like “oh my God, I love you!”  or, “you are SO beautiful”.  Something very intelligent like that.  All I know is he looked up and smiled at me – the real smile not the polite smile-for-the-press smile and said “thank you”.  I thought I was going to have to lie down right there on the floor in the autograph line. 

I don’t remember much more about that weekend either.


3 thoughts on “Still tripping down memory lane

  1. OMG Kathy, this is so like the you I remember when we were kids going to Wham concerts. It’s so funny that we still get like that no matter how old we are.

    And you have never been fat a day in your life, don’t make me drive to Iowa and hurt you :-P.

  2. Pingback: F1 links: BWin tipped for Brawn deal | F1 Fanatic - The Formula 1 Blog | F1 video | F1 pictures | F1 news | Lewis Hamilton | Fernando Alonso

  3. I can completely relate to this story! I managed to turn into a shaking mess the first time I got near Alonso…

    I was at Indy 2006, near the drivers’ parking area and he walked to the gates with a crowd around him. I managed to squeeze in and had my arm over Alonso’s shoulder hoping he’d sign my program. Didn’t get the autograph but when I realized I had TOUCHED ALONSO (!!!) I nearly lost my legs underneath me! I actually took a photo of the mark that his shirt’s shoulder seam left on my skin!

    At the last Indy race, we ran into Alonso outside of his hotel in downtown Indy. I was much more composed and actually asked if I could get a photo together. He obliged and gave me a warm smile – then put his arm around my shoulder for the photo! Here’s that pic:

    Somehow I think you and I would get along great! If there’s another race here in the US, we’ll have to meet up and stalk a few drivers together! 🙂

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