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Taking the Checkered Flag

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Making a convincing argument for F1 / By Clay Nichols

For Austin dads, the debut of the United States F1 Grand Prix presents a unique opportunity for some quality family time. But because the folks at Circuit of the Americas are understandably proud of their shiny new track, investing in a day at the races (three days, actually, as individual day tickets are not available) may require a bit of a sales job.

My sons can recite the turns on the Top Gear test track in order and from memory (also in convincing accents), so recruiting them is about as easy as scooping up top execs from Yahoo. Convincing the wife and daughter will be more like making dynamic adjustments to the rear spoiler under full throttle coming in to Turn 12. Tricky.

For my wife, I am developing some arguments that go like this: “Honey, think of the awesome Christmas card potential. What would be cuter than all the family members gathered in Turn 9 wearing noise-protection earmuffs? It worked for Drew Brees and his kid!”

Or: “Imagine the networking potential! Our kids can hang out with little Princelings of Brunei and Duchlets of Monaco and Matthew McConaughey. In the concession line. Probably not on the berm where we’ll sit. But still, it could happen.”

Or: “Compression ratios, apexes, drag coefficients— the thing is practically a math class .”

Or: “Here’s the budget option. We get two berm seating passes for $318. Kids under 12 can go watch qualifying for free with an adult. I take the kids that day; they can see all the cool displays, feel the cars run, get the whole experience. Then you and I could go back on Sunday for the Grand Prix, and the whole thing will cost us less than taking all the kids to a home UT football game .”

For my daughter, it will probably go like this: “You’ll love it. It’s a lot like soccer, only Europeans understand it.”

Or: “It’s the closest you will ever come to being a Track Babe.”

Or: “I hear most of the spectators commute in on helicopters.”

Or: “Race cars are for boys? Who the hell ever said that? Tell that to Danica! Or Kay Bailey and Hillary Clinton, for that matter. Or Ann Richards. You should go to this e vent simply because somehow, someway you got the message that it was for one gender and not the other. And make that a general practice for the rest of your life.”

I’m not convinced this proposal will ever see a green flag. The general responses I’ve seen to the U.S. F1 Grand Prix have tended to fall in to one of two categories: 1.) Those that couldn’t imagine paying that much to sit in a traffic jam waiting to watch fancy, fast cars in a traffic jam, or 2.) Those who say, “People have no idea what a big deal this is.” I’ll let you guess which statement attributes to my wife, but I once read a study that claimed that people who spend on experiences versus stuff tend to be happier. So while I may have had cheaper ideas for a family outing, I’m putting this one through qualifying anyway. Here’s hoping I will see the checkered flag.

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