Turning circles

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

  • Having left South Korea at an hour when I would usually be laying in bed contemplating breakfast, or perhaps pushing that to brunch, I was in the air making a mad dash to Japan in the hope of catching the Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka.

    Like pretty much everything I have done this year, this was entirely unplanned and full of some rather ominous challenges. First of all I had to find somewhere to store my luggage for the day, then I had to find out how to get from Nagoya airport to the Suzuka circuit itself, all while getting around the language barrier. However, the biggest challenge was that I didn’t have a ticket to the race, and all tickets had sold out months ago.

    In Nagoya city I managed to get a department store to hold my luggage while I ‘shopped’ there for the day, then I found my way to the train bound for Suzuka. That all required a lot of comedy dashing around, carrying my luggage up and down stairs, confusing sign langauge exchanges, and much bowing.

    Once on the train to Suzuka I found myself willing it to go faster. As I looked out of the window at the passing scenery I couldn’t quite believe I was in Japan on my way to Suzuka on Grand Prix day. The circuit was not far from the train station, but with the start of the race getting ever closer I ran all the way in the hot afternoon sun that was unseasonably warm for this time of year.

    As I ran I snapped a picture of people gathering on a public footbridge that had a slight view of the track from the road. It seemed like a good place to watch the race without a ticket, but I continued to run to the main gate. A few minutes later I got there, breathless and burning up in the sun. The staff looked at me with quizzical expressions, smiling politely as I gasped for breath then asked them “Do any of you speak English?”

    I really want to tell you what happened next, but I’ve actually been asked not to share those details online. Suffice to say that without a ticket I did indeed manage to legitimately get, not just into the circuit, but a pretty sweet spot in a grandstand at the first corner!

    So as I took a seat in the grandstand among the thousands of fanatical Japanese Formula One fans, I couldn’t quite believe my good fortune. The thrill of the dash to get there and the luck of getting in made me want to turn circles in excitement. Instead I just joined the rest of the cheering and waving fans as the cars drove around in somewhat larger circles on a what was a perfect sunny Sunday afternoon at Suzuka. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.