Velogal's Blog

Saturday, July 30, 2005

So busy yesterday that the blog had to take second seat... But I did get a news bulletin that Lance is back in he US. Here is the news bit (courtesy Newswire):

“Bombardier Flexjet, the fractional ownership program of Bombardier Aerospace, paid tribute to the company's most celebrated aircraft owner, Lance Armstrong, by hosting his flight back to the United States, Friday, July 29, 2005 at Teterboro Airport in NJ, following his unprecedented seventh Tour de France victory. For this special occasion, Flexjet arranged a flight from Nice, France to New York on Bombardier's top-of-the-line business jet, the ultra long-range, high speed Bombardier Global Express.” Only way to fly, I guess. Sure beats how I got home....

Well, I suddenly realized that we had a really big deal event going on here in downtown SJ this weekend - a First-Ever. The Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San José (they are using the accent mark over the e). My TWS heart fluttered, but then I realized it’s a NASCAR thing.... But then I decided to go check it our last evening - Hey, it’s on wheels isn’t it? Yikes - how desperate am I? This is symptomatic of really bad TWS, huh?

The race organizers were still putting the course together - it’s right in downtown SJ and the place is barricaded off like a high-security prison. Grandstands everywhere, and tons of cement barricades and tires all along the streets and corners. Double security fencing and that damn green netting stuff so nobody can see the race unless you pay... And I mean PAY... The admission is not cheap!

I tried yesterday to get a press credential - a dozen unanswered phone calls. I finally got thru to some overwhelmed person at the Race Hotline. He told me that they had prepared 500 media credentials and have given out 600 and good luck - he didn’t know what to tell me to do (other than leave him alone with his dozens of calls on hold). Tough beans for me - No credential for sure....

So I took two cameras along, just to look official or something, and headed downtown - it was pretty late in the evening. I had a helluva time finding a parking place, but then I scored a couple of blocks north of San Pedro Square. Security was tight - you’da thought that Saddam was in there or somethin’. No, no - you can't come in here.... So I just walked along the perimeter until I found an opening and started walking the course - I didn’t have my cameras particularly set up for night or anything. I just shot some stuff trying to get something before dark.

The place was crawling with workers, heavy equipment and tons of folks tearing around on scooters, golf carts and shiny new trucks. Hard hats were the mode of the evening, but I forgot and left my white Red Cross hard hat at home. Nobody noticed anyway - they were all so frantic about getting stuff ready - and they were really off-schedule as far as I could tell. The population behind the barricades was divided into two groups: Hard-hat workers and non-hard hat bosses. Guess who did the standing-around thing?

So I pretty much wandered around wherever I wanted to go. I got invited to go up in the service elevator in the Convention Center and strolled in to some kind of Officials or Workers dinner party. Some guy came over being a bit huffy, but then he let me go and look around the terrace to see if it was a good place for shots during the race. It wasn’t: high barb-wire fencing and trees. I walked around until I found stairs to the exit - chatting with Security and SJ police guys - nobody ever asked to see my credentials.

Then I saw this huge, huge tent that was bigger than a football field - It was The Pit - where all the race cars were. I just walked in a side door. It was amazing - like a humongeous Overhaul set. Cars were in bits and pieces and there were guy’s legs sticking out from underneath cars, and guy’s behinds sticking out from engine cavities.

I took a bunch of shots and BS’d with a few wrenches. The guys working on the car in the photo told me it would be back together and runnning in two hours. Just needs a little oil, they said... One guy told me that the practice run for his class car was supposed to be a 8 am, and they all sat on their cars on the course until noon before it happened. Kinda confirmed my assessment that they were a tad behind schedule.

Anyway, I walked around the entire course - totally dark - and guys swearing and running around doing all those last minute chores. Like sponsor signage.... I heard squealing tires and got over to the edge of the barricades. A bunch of old guys in a dozen or so brand new official race convertibles came flying (they thought) around the course. I guess taking a practice run or somethin’ - maybe they all had a few beers too many. They were showing off like a bunch of adolescents. And a few of them nearly chain rear-ended as one cautious guy in front slowed down for a turn right near where I was standing - I was close enough to see the panic looks on the driver’s faces as they slammed on their shiny new brakes in the dark. I’m sure that visions of crumpled front ends on those Jag convertibles sobered them up.... It was really funny.

I’m not a NASCAR or race car fan at all, but maybe I’ll head over later this morning to see what’s going on... TWS..tws..tws...

So I’ll just put up the SJGP shots I took in a non-cycling gallery on smugmug. Follow the link if you’re interested.. I can’t say that they are particularly good shots - just a point-and-shoot Night-Before photo documentary.


  • yeah. they stole our race name!! There was also a bicycle race called the San Jose Gran Prix. It was at the track; on the same day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 11:48 AM  

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