A First Timer’s Trip to a Formula 1 Race – 2013 US Grand Prix in Review



As long as I can remember I’ve been a huge motorsports fan, but nothing could prepare me for my first Formula 1 race.  Nothing.


I started attending auto races when I was in the womb.  At three years old I battled chicken pox watching IMSA GT racers zoom by at Brainerd International Raceway.  At the ripe age of eleven I had the good fortune to bump into Mario and Michael Andretti in paddock at Road America.   I’ve attended many of other races ranging from amateur club level races to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, yet I never had the chance to attend a Formula 1 race.  That all changed just over a week ago when I attended the 2013 US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas




If you’re not familiar, Formula 1 is the pinnacle of auto racing.   Weighing in at just 1,415 pounds and delivering nearly 750 horsepower, a contemporary Formula 1 car can sprint from 0-60 mpg in under two seconds.  Read this last sentence again.   A short seven seconds later a Formula 1 car will hit 190mph.  The same cars will decelerate from 190 mph to 0 in just over three seconds.   It has to be the equivalent of being shot out of a cannon and into a brick wall.


To say these cars can move is an understatement and their handling is equally impressive.  Much like in aerospace, Formula 1 teams use the same wind tunnels to maximize aerodynamic forces.   Whereas planes rely on lift, Formula 1 cars thrive on down force.  This force allows a modern F1 car to grip the road like an insect to fly paper.   To put this down force into perspective, a Formula 1 car could drive upside down in a tunnel.   Myth busters proved it, so it must be true…but enough about the cars, let’s talk about the Formula 1 experience.


2013 US Grand Prix 2-7


If you could ever ride in a Formula 1 car it would surely blow your mind.  If you think racecar drivers are not athletes, you’re delusional.  I learned this firsthand when I had the opportunity to ride in a legit Formula 1 car that had been converted to a three seater for ride-alongs.  At a small private racetrack roughly 30 minutes from the Formula 1 course, our group was treated to two laps around Harris Hill Speedway with one of two highly qualified drivers.  The first, Jerome D’Ambrosio, drove previously for the Lotus F1 team.  The second, Martin Plowman, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2012.


2013 US Grand Prix 3


Analogous to a sumo wrestler climbing into a Smart Car, I nearly had to ask for some Crisco to ease the squeeze into cars passenger side pod.  Once in, I was sure that I would never make it out.  Martin Plowman fired up the car and immediately high octane fumes permeated the cockpit.  Heat radiated off my back and I suddenly understood how claustrophobics feel in a crowded elevator.  I needed some airflow fast and I certainly got it, in the form of a 750 horsepower jetpack strapped to my back.


As we accelerated out of the pits the sensation was unlike anything I ever felt before.  As we approached the first turn, a sweeping right-hander I no longer had to worry about it, as I was experiencing the most extreme g-forces ever.  I’m certain my internal organs were struggling to stay in place.  As we accelerated out of the turn the wind pulled up on my helmet so much I was sure that like a schoolyard dandelion, my head would pop off.  But again, time would not permit it as Plowman put on the clampers and the car slowed down for the next turn and I could see the road again.  Another game of rib crunching ensued.  Accelerate.  Brake. Turn.  Brutal acceleration.   Rinse and repeat for a couple minutes and we were done.  The video below puts it into perspective.  That is indeed me shoe horned into the passenger compartment…. fat guy in little suit.  Had this been the only thing planned for the Austin trip I would have been happy, but it was just the beginning.


People always say that Formula 1 cars are loud, but they are dead wrong.  When I arrived at the Circuit of the Americas that afternoon for Friday practice I found that Formula 1 cars are downright deafening.  I’m not talking about rock concert at First Avenue loud or turn it up to eleven loud; I’m talking about shoving multiple M80s down your eardrums loud.   With engines revving to 18,000 rpms, the cars emit a high frequency wail that both gives you goose bumps and makes you run for cover.  Never have I experienced something so uncomfortable and heavenly at the same time.   Without earplugs I was certain my ears would bleed.


Upon arriving I knew that the racing gods were looking down favorably on me during this trip.  I had the unique opportunity to call a grandstand suite on the start finish line my home for the three-day weekend.   This home base provided spectacular views of turn 20, a great vantage point of the start-finsh straightaway, a bird’s eye view of the pits, and views of the cars as they climb the monstrous hill to turn 1.  As we arrived for the second half of afternoon practice, I got just a taste of Formula 1 racing.  Saturday I would drink from the Formula 1 big gulp, or in Formula 1 elitist circles, the silver chalice.


2013 US Grand Prix 4


Saturday appeared to be a theatrical mind game.  As the penultimate race of the season, the US Grand Prix represented a best of the rest opportunity.   Sebastian Vettel had already won the driver’s championship in his Red Bull RB9, winning the seven previous races and leaving fans divided.  Some love him, some hate him, but in the end his talent cannot be denied.  When the morning practice rolled around, part of me was happy to see him running mid-pack.  I soon discovered, however, that it was all just a mind game. Through the first 58 minutes of qualifying session 1, someone other than Vettel held the top spot.  Would someone else take the glory?  Nope.  With less than two minutes to go in the session, Vettel snuck up and took a commanding lead.




I’ll spare you the details, but top performers from the first two qualifying session advanced to the third session where the board was wiped clean.  Can you guess what happened?  Vettel, again, snatched the pole position with minutes to go in session, ruining the hopes of many jaded Formula 1 fans tired of seeing another Vettel parade on race day.   Still, attending a Vettel dominated race is much better than not attending at all, right?




We arrived early on Sunday for race day and enjoyed watching two race groups run in support of the Formula 1 big show.   Formula Vintage cars took to the track first.   An eclectic mix of vintage and historic racecars this group put on a good show, albeit one with a large speed and skill differential.  Out front, two Formula Atlantic racecars battled hard for the lead.  Towards the middle a couple of stunning Formula B cars provided great photo opportunities harkening back the golden age of open wheel racing.  After 8 short laps the race was over.




Shortly following the Formula Vintage race, what seemed like fifty Ferrari Challenge cars grid the main straightaway with much pomp and circumstance.  There were scantily clad grid girls.  There were more engines revving than in a Fast and Furious movie.  There were cars of every color imaginable.   This group, consisting of identically prepared Ferrari 458 Challenge cars, showed that wealth and driving talent do not always go hand in hand.  The race did, however, make it clear that with enough money you can fix anything.




Upon cresting the hill into turn one on the first lap, one of the front-runners got nudged, putting into motion an entertaining chain of events.  The nudged car spun, creating an obstacle to the dozen of cars yet to navigate the turn.  Just to add to the excitement the car that initiated the nudge damaged his radiator.  In the heat of the moment he proceeded to drive the next several turns spewing slippery-as-ice coolant out of his car.   As the cars pirouetted on the spilled coolant all I could think of was the Ferrari boys back in Maranello enthusiastically adding up new parts sales.   After the Ferrari Challenge drivers completed their race and sent half a dozen cars to the wrecking yard it was finally time for the Formula 1 race.




At the start of the Formula 1 race there was a bit of shuffling for position.  Vettel got his signature jump on the field, but Red Bull teammate Mark Webber who qualified 2nd, slipped back to fourth when Romain Grosjean snuck by in his Lotus and Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes AMG.    Things cleared out a bit out front, but soon enough the mid-pack Force India car of Adrian Sutil careened into the wall after a bump with Esteban Gutierrez.  Short of a brief yellow flag period, the remainder of the race was rather uneventful.




While the race was uneventful, the pit stops were truly a sight to see.  Whereas it might take you 20 minutes to change a flat tire on your car, these teams can change all four tires in under 3 seconds.  The Red Bull team did it in 2.3 seconds.  Seriously, if you blink you’ll miss a tire change.  The pit crew is a well orchestrated machine that practices their craft over and over and over, probably more than your typical pro athlete practices his swing.

One key to their success is their equipment and having everything in the right place.  By a stroke of luck we got the opportunity to tour the pits pre-race and get a firsthand look at the equipment and tools at their disposal.  I’m guessing that one tire gun costs more than my car.


2013 US Grand Prix 2-3


As the race wound down Vettel maintained an eight second lead over Grosjean, and Webber couldn’t quite bridge the gap to Grosjean.  In the end, they maintained these positions at the end.




As quick as the race started, it was over and fans flooded the front straightaway for the awards presentation.  As soon as the presentation was over, logistics workers flooded the pits like worker ants with forklifts and airfreight containers.  It was truly a site to see and I can only imagine the planning involved to fly the cars and equipment across the world for all 19 races.




All in all it was an incredible experience, unlike any race I had attended before and I look forward to the opportunity to attend another in the near future.






Art Sol | Morrie’s Luxury Auto

Morrie’s Luxury Auto was proud to be a part of the Art Sol show that recently took place in our community. Julie Ann Witt, owner of Julian Design Inc, and her husband Bob graciously hosted the exhibition in their Orono home with hors d’oeuvre and wine selections from Lakeside Wine & Spirits. Event sponsors included Pure Insurance, PHH Home Loans, Coldwell Banker/Burnet, and of course, Morrie’s Luxury Auto.


All benefits from this event went to The Newborn Foundation, head over to their website to read more about how they provide support, equipment, and logistics to under-equipped domestic and foreign neonatal care facilities. Annamarie Saarinen is the founder of the charity and provides the motivation to help infant survivability wherever it is needed.


Morrie’s Luxury Auto donated the valet service and provided a product demonstration on the 2013 Bentley Continental GT V8,  and 2014 Maserati Quattroporte S Q4 to event attendees.The invitations describe Art & Sol as a “privately held, white glove exhibition of over $1 million in hand curated art flown from across the United States and overseas.” We were happy to be a part of such a beautiful event in our community. Make sure to check out the photos below!

Morrie’s Luxury Auto at MN C&C 2013

We had another successful MN C&C event at the Automotorplex this weekend! We want to thank all of you for coming out to the shows this summer and helping to make this event such a great success. Check out some of our photos below. We look forward to seeing all of you next year for MN C&C 2014!

F1 Screening at Morrie’s Luxury Auto

This weekend Morrie’s Luxury Auto held an exclusive screening of the Formula One Documentary, “1″. This exclusive screening included never before seen archive race footage, the most impressive list of F1 Interviewees ever assembled, and an in depth look at the life of an F1 racer.

We had over 50 attendees that showed up on Friday to enjoy this exclusive showing in an a-typical movie theatre setting. A few historical racers even made an appearance at the event including a 1960 Lotus 19 and a 1969 Brabham BT-29, make sure you check out the photos below.

Guests enjoyed catered appetizers and drinks before the screening began at 7:00pm and then eventually took their seats before the lights dimmed and the movie began. By 8:30 the crowd was applauding and the documentary had finished. Following the screening of the documentary, a Q&A session with “1″ Producer, Michael Schevloff, was held. Fans had the oppertunity to get up close and personal with the man who created the documentary that highlighted the golden era of Grand Prix Racing

The sound system was enough to make attendees feel like they were at a real live F1 race. A projector, Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Series tower speakers & an Amplifier brought this screening to life, adding that movie theatre atmosphere to the show floor. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped to make this event such a great success!

Morrie’s Luxury Auto at the 5th Annual Wayzata Rotary Motorsport Show!

This past weekend Wayzata community members gathered downtown for the 39th annual James J. Hill Days celebration. Since 1975 James J. Hill Days has been celebrated in honor of Mr. Hill himself, owner of the Great Northern Railroad Company and well-known historical figure. Wayzata’s James J. Hill Days is an annual celebration of the town’s history, which thanks to Mr. Hill, is a thriving Lake Minnetonka community.

This was the 5th Annual Wayzata Rotary Charity Motorsports show at James J. Hill days and we were excited to be in attendance once again. There were hundreds of classic, exotic and vintage cars at this year’s show, which by the way was free to the public. From 10am to 4pm attendees walked down Lake St. to enjoy checking out some of the most beautiful vehicles in the Twin Cities Metro.

Money was raised to benefit local and international humanitarian projects by collecting $20 per vehicle displayed at the event. We were proud to be a Platinum Presenting Sponsor once again. Check out some of the photos we captured at this year’s event and make sure to share them with your friends and family! We look forward to seeing you all next year for another successful show!

MN C&C | September 2013

It was another beautiful Saturday morning at the Automotorplex this weekend for MN C&C! The turnout was great and we saw a lot of great vehicles make it out bright and early for the event. We saw everything from a gorgeous black McLaren to a few Lamborghini’s and of course some timeless classic’s. If you haven’t made it out to this event yet this summer you should definitely mark next month’s date off on your calendar. October is the last event of the season and it is bound to be a busy day at the Automotorplex. Bring out your vehicle or just come as a spectator, either way your sure to have a great time. Stop by the Morrie’s booth to grab your free pair of sunglasses, a cup of coffee, or bottle of water. We have had a great time as usual this summer and look forward to the last event of the season next month. Thanks to all the attendee’s for helping to make MN C&C a success. For more information on the MN C&C event head over to their website.