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Day at the Races

March 21, 2009

This is what I call a serious bumper.
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We spent the afternoon at the Dubai Autodrome because Paul’s boss Omran and his brother were racing and we thought it would be an interesting experience. Just driving out there was an experience in itself. It is far from the city and is surrounded by construction. We missed the turnoff due to vague signage. We had to go quite a ways to an enormous ROUNDABOUT (my favorite thing) and come back to a different turnoff. Then we wondered around driving generally toward the grandstand which we could see at that point. When we got to what looked like the entrance to the grandstand, it looked deserted except for a few cars parked out in the street and on the sidewalk. We found a parking lot, which was a significant walk away (through construction), so we decided to join the cars parked on the street right outside the entrance.

As we were walking in I saw a sign that said “Ear plugs 5 AED.” This was truly a sign as you will see if you play the videos with the sound all the way up. There was, however, no one in the ticket booths selling tickets or ear plugs. So, we just sauntered in and found a seat in the grandstand. There were only a few other people there as you will also notice in the videos. Racing hasn’t quite caught on here yet. The addage “if you build it, they will come” is taking a while to come to fruition. They built this big race track about three years ago and it’s only now that they are seeing enough racers to make it interesting. It hasn’t caught on as a spectator sport, yet. It hasn’t caught on with sponsors either, so the drivers are those who can afford to finance their own cars.

Here’s a overall view of the race track.

The bike race was first. This shows them coming in from their warm up lap, lining up and then starting the actual race.

Then the first of two car races. My camera doesn’t cope with the speed, so it looks more like stop action animation than live action.

Then the Formula One cars raced. They take their warm up lap behind a pace car staying in a particular order, then start the actual race without coming to a stop.

During that race we moved over from the grandstand side to the pit side.

Above is the back side of the pit area. Below are Omran, Crystal, Magnus and Paul chatting between races.

CentimeterCube – Omran’s architecture company and publisher of Shufflegazine. Notice the circles in the bumper. They have cut these holes to improve the speed.
Filling the gas tank – three guys, a gas can and a funnel.
We got a peek under the hood.
Even Hello Kitty gets to go to the races.
Here is Paul hanging through the gap in the fence to get pictures. The guy behind him is Magnus, doing the same.

Apparently, the day wasn’t quite exciting enough for Paul. He watched part of the second race from the fence behind the pit area near one of the curves. He also dropped his camera phone on the other side of that fence down between the tires piled there for cushion. So, after the race was over, he snuck onto the track to try to retrieve his phone, which turned out to be just out of reach. After some consulting and brainstorming for what tools might be available to reach the wayward phone, he raided the emergency kit in our rental car and found something he could use as tongs to reach it. So, snuck back onto the track a second time to grab his phone.

We had a really great time. It turned out to be nothing like what we expected, but those are usually the best experiences.

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