F1 (H20 Style) Comes to Liuzhou
More than 20 F1 powerboats are scheduled to compete this weekend in the China Grand Prix right here in The Dragon City. I am lucky enough to be covering the races for a couple of publications and spent most of today in the paddocks interviewing drivers and crew members and taking lots of photos. To be honest, until a few months ago I knew nothing about F1 Powerboats and I am still far from an expert. Suffice to say, it’s a bit like NASCAR, except of course all the racing takes place on the water. I don’t think you’re gonna’ see Jeff Gordon barreling through a hairpin turn at 140 MPH, battling the wake and chop while bouncing off other boats. These guys are a little crazy. I hope they make a lot of cash.
The race course is laid out on the Liujiang River, between Wen Hui Bridge and The First Bridge, right in the middle of downtown. The course is relatively short for F1 standards. At only 1.5 kilometers in length, it will be what the drivers call a “bull ring”. That should make the show exciting not only for the spectators but for the drivers as well. The event is supposed to be sold out, and while I am sure all the tickets have been “allocated”, it will be interesting to see if the locals do indeed turn out. You only have to look back at the sold out Beijing Olympics to know that the Chinese are a notoriously fickle lot when it comes to watching sporting competitions. The tickets are steep for most folks here, 380 RMB, which is about $55 US. I am hoping the spectacular weather holds. Viewing the races from either of the bridges is prohibited and most of the riverbank viewing area is only for ticket holders. These guys got a bit of a free show today as they watched the Swedish team work on their boat from behind the paddock fence.
Watching The Swedes
I’ll be doing a feature on the Qatar Team and American driver Jay Price. Price is a Louisiana native and the current points leader through the first four races of the season. The head of the Qatar Team is Kahlid Bin Arhama Al Kuwari. Kahlid is one of those people you sometimes meet in life that you are immediately drawn to. He is a Board Member of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. as well as the current leader of the Formula team. I got the distinct impression he was rolling in it. Still, he was approachable and kind and an interesting guy to talk to. I’ll have more about him tomorrow as well.
Kahlid Bin Arhama Al Kuwari
So, more to come on the F1 China Grand Prix. Let’s see, what else for today? I may be going to Shenzhen to see my friend Bob Lio next week. I hope to spend a few days with Bob and hit Hong Kong for the first time while I am there. I also hope to hit a Burger King, a Wendy’s and I am really Jonesin’ for some Mexican food. I haven’t had as much as a tortilla in more than 14 months. Those of you who know me well know just how difficult that was for me to type. I am not sure I’ll be able to pull everything together in time to go but man I really want to have a Western experience for a few days. I also desperately need shoes and buying size 13 kicks most anywhere in China is impossible.
In related news, I understand that Krispy Kreme is coming to China. Franchises will be open soon in Beijing, Shanghai and Tian Jin. Another reason for me to see Beijing. The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and Krispy Kreme. Not necessarily in that order.