Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vroom … Vroom …Vroom …under Flood Lights in Singapore

From my office at the 21st floor of Suntec Tower in Singapore, it looked like a pearl necklace strewn over a beautiful black velvet blanket. It was not an imagery from the top of the skyscraper but the reality down below of the first night racing of Formula 1 cars in Singapore. The necklace was a string of 1600 white lights - four times brighter than used in soccer - fitted on the aluminum truss that run parallel to the either side of the circuit spanning 5.06-kilometer track that encircled the down town of Singapore over few sharp bends and a run over a bridge without causing any sign of penumbra.

Things started fitting into the playing arena as the D-day approached. It began with the relaying of street tops, putting up the facilities, arrival of equipments, fitting of night-lights. We walked through the streets adjoining old parliament house. Final touches were being given to search lights, alternating red and yellow plastic bucket seats and the safety barricades. As the
DHL chartered planes started descending Singapore airport unloading the Ferrari, Mercedes, BMWs, another one ferrying Bridgestone tyres, I realized the enormity of the task and the money power involved. My journey from the office to home in the evenings did pass through the part of the racing circuit. As I drove my Honda through basking of white lights- I felt thrill even at 60 Kms/hour. However, thoughts did persist ‘how is it possible for racing cars to overtake in three lane narrow downtown streets of Singapore’?

A day before the event, road were sealed leading to the track. Even residents of glitzy hotels like Conrad and Ritz Carlton had to travel by taxi with approved stickers. I had to know about rules of Formula 1. The help came from Formula 1 website that answered most of my questions. I was amazed at the pricing of the tickets and amount of money splurged by the sponsors. Nevertheless, question remained in my mind ‘How a person sitting on a bucket seat can capture a car whizzing past him at 300 Kms/hour”. I asked a colleague of mine who is big aficionado of racing cars. His answer was’ Just smell the engine and hear the noise ‘. I kept wondering if I would spend S$600 plus to just vet my nose and ear?

On Friday afternoon, noise started emanating from my office window. A whirring sound with increasing frequency. It sounded more as if it came from a diesel generator in action. From the window, I could see pygmy cars going one behind the other. They looked like colorful toy cars and their speed appeared ordinary. I guess they were just sizing up the bends of the track. Next day, we reached office to feel the noise but we were in for a big surprise on our return. When we reached the beginning of Benjamin
Sheares Bridge – a thunderous roar ruptured at the breakneck speed from one side of the bridge to the other side. Racing track passed just below us. As the reverberations of the first car receded second one would come by. And there it was. Our first true experience of deafening noise as cars raced to secure pole positions for the final race.

On final day, everything was centered on 5 Km circuit with loud noise of
vroom... vroom at deafening decibels. In no time, cascading of noises filled up the whole arena. It was an amazing experience. The power of the sound was at its peak. This time it was not diesel generator humming – it was full-blown mastery of machine speed with man’s precision and courage. 3/10th of a second was the gap between number two car by Hamilton- McLaren and third car by Räikkönen -Ferrari with unbeatable lead for Massa Ferrari at number one. At this speed taking 60 laps in two hours, I wondered if car driver could even afford to battle his eyelid. However, within 12 laps, all the pre-race predictions and calculations started going haywire. Mishap of fuel hose pipe getting stuck up in his car, caused Masa to relegate from Number 1 to Number 16 in just few seconds. A dangerous collision of Piquet - Renault made him bow out of the race and so was the situation with Räikkönen-Ferrari. Barrichello Honda went out due to engine trouble. My fear of sharp bends being deterrent proved wrong as Alonso- Renault and Rosberg-Williams raced away overtaking others at high spends and grabbing number 1 and 2 respectively . A conventional wisdom of ‘Driver in pole position becomes an eventual winner’ proved wrong at Singapore Night Racing.

When I look back at this event, it appeared more like an opulent wedding than a mega spectacle of any sports event. Deafening roars of noise combined with high speed soaked under white lights amidst 100,000 spectators transformed the event into Kaleidoscopic entertainment .This must be the only sport where performers can silence the spectators forcing them to acknowledge the ‘man -machine’ excellence by wide mouthed ‘awe’ than ‘act of clapping’.

p.s : all pictures are taken from Boston dot com



Anonymous geetha said...

i enjoyed reading it. Well said. as I was reading it I felt I was there to witness this event.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Saurav said...

First hand experience, interestingly written piece with adequate technical details.

9:36 AM  

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