The Australian Grand Prix

The week after the Great Ocean Road was relatively uneventful. Classes went as good as they could go. Lectures are becoming more bearable as we move into actual subject material but I simply cannot get over how informal the entire system is. It is luring me into a false sense of security about how difficult the classes will actually be. It doesn’t help that for the entire semester I only have two tests, two presentations, and four papers which is practically nothing compared to what I would have in a semester at Bellarmine. The papers themselves will be a lot different, as well. As an Economics major, I usually don’t have many papers but the ones I do are usually 6-10 pagers or even longer and are strictly formatted with a required number of sources, etc. But here at Swinburne my longest paper will be 2500 words and there is practically no guidelines or rubric. In other words, the word count and basic formatting is all I get. I am completely paranoid about these papers, the first of which is due right after my Spring Break, because I have no idea what they are expecting for them. It is this paranoia that has led me to already gather (some) of my sources for my International Business paper a full three weeks before it was due. If I was at Bellarmine I would probably be writing it the morning it was due. Due tomorrow = do tomorrow. AMIRIGHT? Tuesday I (re)broke my toe at footy going in for a tackle so between that and an impending $180 player fee I may end up dropping out of that little group. I really don’t want to but it’s just not worth the money to never play and walk like a duck week after week.

Saturday I went to Brighton Beach (but forget my camera, like an idiot) with Ben, Zoe, Olle, and Rachael. Hadn’t been to the beach in Melbourne for awhile so it was nice to finally have the time and weather to bust out the volleyball. It was St. Patrick’s day so before we caught the train to the beach we stocked up on some beer and rum. It sounded like a good idea at the time. Volleyball was a bit harder to play that afternoon for some reason. I got back to the apartment with just enough time to demolish a Subway pizza sandwich before heading to the Castle with Olle, Ben, and Zoe. We introduced the Swedes and everyone there to some drinking games and hung out for a few hours. When they all went into the city I walked back to my apartment. Didn’t want to deal with the St. Patrick’s day crowds nor did being hungover for the Grand Prix sound like a very appealing option.

Sunday was the final day of the Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park. The actual Grand Prix would be held later in the afternoon but there was a full day of races and entertainment at the park. The gates opened at 10:30am but Matt, Olle, and I didn’t head into the city until around noon. We caught a train and tram to the park, which functions as a golf course when it isn’t hosting the Grand Prix, and joined the crowd as we made our way through the gates. I was a bit surprised at how the race was set up because I thought that F1 races took place on roads instead of tracks but the entire course was an permanent, enclosed track. Of course it had much more than the jaw-dropping, adrenaline pumping four left turns that NASCAR has and we would end up sitting on the back third of the track while the race was on. But before the gentlemen started their engines, we walked around the grounds to the various booths and stores. Racing gear is fucking expensive, in case you were wondering. A tshirt was about $50 on average and if you sprung for a polo it was gonna cost you three digits easily. Absolutely ridiculous. We walked through some future tech building where there were some great looking cars on display but the real gems were in the historic area where old Ferraris, Aston Martins, and Mercedes were set up down the aisles. A joy ride in one of those would be priceless.

We stopped at the Renault tent to get some free goodies and of course I was the first person the man decided to start asking questions to over his mic. He asked me who I thought would win and I just deadpanned him and told him I had absolutely no clue. He seemed offended but gave me my free hat and poster anyways. BaBoom. Not quite ready to eat and find our seats for the big race the three of us walked over to the Action Zone where a company called BagJump was letting people jump 7 and 10 meters into one of their, you guessed it, giant inflatable bags.

With nothing better to do, we got in line and waited for over an hour and a half for the opportunity to jump. We watched a Cage of Death show where a bunch of motocross riders drove around inside this huge metal sphere and right before we did our jumps the qualifier for the BMX jump competition started so the time passed kinda of quickly. The jumps definitely took too long though and we once we were back on the ground we found that we were about half an hour behind the rush to get food and seats. We grabbed some sandwiches and drinks before sliding our way to the outside of the track and looking for a good spot to view the race. There was a hill close to the halfway point of the track that we dropped our stuff on and as the race progressed we moved closer and closer to the track. Before the race started there were three flyovers; one by a group of front prop planes, one by an Australian military jet, and a final one done by a Quantas 747-700.

The sound was deafening. I hadn’t bought earplugs and don’t really think I needed them but there was no way to hold a conversation or follow the announcers so I spent the entire thing wondering what was going on and if we had missed anything exciting. About halfway through the race, which was an hour and a half long, we went searching for a different and better vantage point. We found one just on the far side of the second to last turn which gave us a great view of the cars entering the turn and speeding away into the final turn. There were actual seats here as well so that made it more enjoyable. The entire time I attempted to capture the cars on my camera as they zoomed past but it was practically impossible. When I did manage to get them in the frame they were always a blur. I snagged a few videos as well but neither of them do the speed or noise of the place any justice.

All in all, the Grand Prix was a ton of fun and completely worth it. If I went again I would definitely be a bit more prepared or even splurge to get seats in one of the grand stands, but it was a lot more interesting than the Indy 500 experiences I had done before. This is coming from a guy who has absolutely no appreciation for what he experienced, too. I’m not an avid racing fan (I didn’t even know who was racing) and am not a brain child about cars so for me to enjoy spending an entire day with both of those things speaks volumes at to how exciting the atmosphere was.

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