Attending Practice: More Like The Monaco Bland Prix

Do you like Formula One Racing? NASCAR? Motorsports in general? Then you should probably just skip to the comments section to type insults in all caps. Probably they'll be in Italian or French, but they'll definitely be in all caps. Because we did what you and your friends have been dreaming about for twenty years. We took the train from Nice to Monte Carlo, picked up our tickets, and were front row as the behemoth beasts sped by at over 200 miles per hour at the 74th Edition Of The Monaco Grand Prix. And it sucked. We left early.

Let me couch this with some excuses before I get a lot of angry tweets from @LeMansLover or @DanicaPatrick, because we attended the Monaco GP in just about the worst way possible, and hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes we made. Or you could just save yourself $200 and spend that money on a spectacular French Tasting Menu with wine pairings in Nice instead of watching cars go real fast, it's up to you.

  • First Mistake - Attending Practice.
    • We are backpackers on a budget, so when we (actually it was just me, and Renee reminds me of it all the time) realized that we would be in Southern France during the Monaco Grand Prix, we (again, it was just me) looked into how expensive it would be to attend. And while we were absolutely blown away by how expensive it was to attend the actual race, it was relatively affordable to attend the Thursday practice, and after doing a little bit of research, it actually looked like Thursday was the more savvy purchase: FOUR ROUNDS OF PRACTICE! DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARS DRIVING! QUALIFYING! ALL DAY RACING EQUALS MORE CAR RACING FUN FOR YOUR CAR RACING DOLLAR! What they don't tell you is that attending practice at a Grand Prix is like attending NFL Training Camp or NBA Summer League. If you're not a huge fan of the NFL and aren't going to be excited to see Cam Newton toss a ball on the sidelines for an hour, you're not going to enjoy Panthers Training Camp because there are no stakes and they're not playing a real game. If you've never watched a Formula One Racing event in your life, you're probably not going to enjoy going to a race, but you're definitely not going to enjoy going to a practice where there are no stakes, most of the drivers don't even care how fast they're going, and they're not trying to win, they're just trying not to die.
  • Second Mistake: Not Caring About Racing
    • If we're going in chronological order, I guess this would be our first mistake, but neither Renee nor myself care about Formula One Racing, so to think that we would enjoy attending a Formula One Racing event was incredibly naive on our part. I thought that going to the Monaco Grand Prix would be our chance to drink some wine, see some fast cars, have a couple of celebrity sightings, and perhaps grow an appreciation for a sport that is popular the world over. In reality, we left before noon, so we didn't drink any wine; we certainly saw some fast cars; there were no celebrities there because they wouldn't be caught dead near the practice session; and we only solidified our opinion that we just don't "get" racing. Is it impressive how they can control a machine at that speed? Absolutely. Was it amazing to find that they have to shift gears over FORTY times during each minute of race time? Definitely. Did we wince every time they would hit the gas going around the corner directly in front of us? Yep. Did we ultimately give a shit? Nah.

 

  • Third Mistake: Buying The Cheapest Seats Possible
    • There are dozens of options on how to watch the Monaco Grand Prix, from relaxing on a yacht enjoying an open bar to sitting in the sunny Grandstands of Tribune K with the view of the iconic harbor behind the racetrack. You could choose to go all-in, renting an apartment perched above the track with a balcony that you and your cool friends can take selfies from. Or you could do what we did, and buy the cheapest seats possible in Section Z1, which is filled with (literally) concrete stanchions with plywood on top of them for attendees to sit on; once the action starts, most everyone is pressed up against the chainlink fence and whipping their heads from side to side as the cars go racing by at top speeds. If you're looking for a break, there is a restaurant inside Section Z1 where they'll charge you eight Euros for a half pint of Heineken. Yay. After we had all we could take of the "fun", we were wandering the city before returning to Nice and stumbled upon a group of people sitting on a flight of stairs high above the racetrack passing around a bottle of wine and a pair of binoculars as they laughed at the assholes who had spent triple digits to be closer to the action. Turns out Formula One Racing is like a Monet, very interesting and beautiful to look at from far away, but when you get right up next to it, you realize it's just a bunch of European guys who probably have small penises driving really fast cars.

 

  • Mistake Four: We Didn't Bring Ear Plugs
    • What is this, amateur hour? Come on. 

We didn't enjoy our time at the Grand Prix because of the above mistakes. We did, however, think that the city of Monte Carlo was pretty spectacular. Clearly an extremely wealthy city, the way that the buildings seemed to stretch forever into the sky defied the senses and made me wish we had a chance to explore when the race area wasn't blocked off. Plus I had a white tuxedo I wanted to wear into the casino like James Bond, but I guess that wasn't in the cards (GET IT, CARDS?! That's a great joke, you're welcome).

Just because we didn't enjoy the race, that doesn't mean you can't go and truly enjoy yourself if you follow these tips and don't make the same mistakes we made:

  • Tip 1: Attend the actual race, and not the practice session.
  • Tip 2: Enjoy motorsports, more specifically, enjoy Formula One Racing.
  • Tip 3: Spend a lot of money on your seats. The more money you spend, the more fun you'll have! 
  • Tip 4: Bring ear plugs. For the love of Lewis Hamilton, bring some ear plugs.