It was a busy and tiring weekend, but still a lot of fun. Friday
evening I came home to find Patrick asleep on our couch. He’d worked
all morning and flew up late in the afternoon. He was exhausted and it
took me a long time to get him up. We finally got out the door to get
some dinner after eight. Bill had left around five to drive to Monterey
Park for a police ride-along. Bill met a Reserve Captain in the
Monterey Park Police Department through our friend Ronny who’s a
Sergent with the LGB Police. (Long Beach Airport Police). Bill has been
looking in to becoming a reserve officer with a local department and is
looking seriously at Monterey Park. For those who are wondering, a
reserve officer is basically a volunteer officer who goes through
training and eventually becomes a sworn officer working on a part-time
basis. Reserve officers normally have a full-time day job and work a
few nights per month on their own time. Reserve programs are perfect
for a guy like Bill who has always wanted to work in law enforcement,
but already have a great job. Bill has been looking specifically at
Monterey Park because there is a very large Chinese community living
there, so Bill’s cantonese speaking ability will be benificial. Plus
they have a small police department, so they regularly use their
reserve officers. Much larger departments might not use their reserve
officers very much… except maybe for parades and carnivals. That’s no
fun. Bill had a great time on the ride-along and I might post more
details about it later.
We all slept in on Saturday. Patrick and I stayed up too late watching
Casino Royale. And Bill didn’t get home from his ride-along until
around 3am. We had lunch and went to a law enforcement clothing store
to buy some pants. Bill loves the 5.11
Tactical Cargo pants and shorts. They’re comfortable, very durable and
have lots of pockets. Since we were required to wear black pants at the
Grand Prix on Sunday, he got himself a pair of cargo pants in black.
Patrick also picked up a pair for himself in OD Green. Next we drove to
Downtown Long Beach to check out Saturday’s races. We arrived just in
time for the start of the American Le Mans Series Race. We walked around trying to figure out where our passes and grey wristbands could get us. The grey wristbands were attached to our wrists last Saturday… they’re the kind that don’t come off unless you cut them off. I was able to wriggle my hand through mine, but Pat and Bill had to wear theirs all week. Apparently it was quite irritating. The grey wristbands allowed us to view the race from the pits, which was pretty cool. There was a large screen behind us showing the feed from the TV cameras.
Our view of pit road. Here a bunch of cars are heading to the pits during a caution.
One thing that was interesting about the Le Mans race was the different sounds and volumes of the engines. Some were incredibly loud and made popping noises like a Harley idling. (Thank goodness for ear plugs) There were a couple of Audi cars that used a modified diesel fuel, they were really quiet.
Patrick thought it would be funny
to call Dad and let him hear what he was missing. There was a lot of,
“HELLO! IS ANYONE THERE? IT’S REALLY LOUD! THERE GOES A CORVETTE… NO
WAIT, THAT WAS A PORSCHE. THERE GOES A FERRARI, WOO HOO!” Pat said he
could just barely hear Dad laughing in the background.
Here the cars are lined up at the end of the race. The winning drivers are in there somewhere hugging and cheering. We don’t think we were supposed to be there, but oh well.
Pat and Bill said this was some sort of Ferrari and they could tell what it was just by the shape and the little bit of wheels they could see. I’m not so sure…
After the race we visited some of the random booths. There were a couple of radio stations, racing themed clothing, beef jerky, cigars, beer, and a booth selling a “trophy rack.” It was a mounted set of fake breasts in a bikini top, that when you pushed a button, jiggled on their own. Classy. Afterwards we had dinner at Big Boy. It only opened a few months ago in Long Beach and was pretty good. As you can see, Patrick enjoyed his milkshake.
Sunday morning we were out the door at 6am in our snazzy red jackets, white polos, black pants and credentials. As we were getting our shoes on, it started raining. I believe we all looked up at the sky and asked, “Are you kidding me?!?!” Thankfully, it only rained for a few minutes and stayed that way for the rest of the day.
We reported to our assigned grandstand #30, which was right at the Start/Finish line. There were a bunch of Marines who were working with us. We talked with them a little bit and learned that they didn’t really volunteer to be there… they were “voluntold” to work. Our responsibilities were to make
sure that fans with the correct tickets sat in the correct grandstand.
On Friday and Saturday, all of the grandstands were general admission.
But, on Sunday, all but one of the grandstands were reserved seating.
So, as people came to sit down, we inspected their ticket and stamped
their hand if they were in the correct grandstand. We had a few people
upset. “I sat here yesterday!” We even had a guy offer us $20 to let
him sit there. Bill had a couple of guys try to scam him. Mostly we
were there to help people find their way… or to the bathrooms, or the
ATM, or the King Taco stand.
This is the view from the stairs I was guarding. The Start/Finish line is just off frame to the left. Talk about a great spot to be. It was a lot of fun and pretty much everyone was really cool. Everyone was there to have a good time. We even had a couple of fans offering us food.
No one is getting by without a ticket!
I think there’s a car in this shot. They were driving much faster than my camera can handle. The average speed coming down this long stretch is around 190mph.
There were actually a lot of races throughout the day. In the morning there was a Champ Car warm-up and a SPEED GT Qualifying race. Then they held the Champ Car race followed by some laps with the two-seat cars. For $10,000 you could ride in the back seat of a two-seat champ car and ride for three laps. Talk about a fun ride! The main event, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, was at one o’clock with George Lucas as grand marshall. Right before then was when we had mass crowds.
After the Grand Prix, a large number of people left. So, our jobs were pretty much done. We stuck around for a little while and watched some of the Team Drift Challenge Finals. They were fun to watch, but we would have a better view if we’d moved to a grandstand near some turns. The Team Drift Challenge isn’t really a race. The cars are judged on their performance and how well they execute their turns in unison.
This car, a former CHP Mustang, was part of the Team Drift Challenge.
It was fun to watch, but we’d had a really long day. We headed to the store to get some chicken and potatoes for dinner. Bill grilled the chicken, Patrick roasted the potatoes and I fell asleep for an hour while they cooked. Bill grilled slices of pineapple with the chicken that were lightly glazed with basalmic vinegar. It was really tasty.
Volunteering to work at the race was a lot of fun and I think we’ll do it again next year if we can. I don’t think we could work more than one day though. One day was tiring enough. It’s a pretty cool deal though; volunteer to work at least one day and you get admission to all three days. Hopefully we can get Dad to join us next year.