For Allan’s 30th birthday, I surprised him with an email confirming that I have purchased tickets to the July Silverstone F1 race. I know, the actual ticket would’ve been nicer, but they only send those out about a month in advance of the race. Fast forward to last weekend (or is it fast forward and reverse back? Whatever.)…we left London on Friday morning and arrived at Northampton before noon. Our hosts for the weekend were opening their home to race goers as local hotels and B&Bs were full and we had arranged for them to pick us up at the station. A half hour ride later and we were in the village of Silverstone, with our gear in our room and ready for our first afternoon at the circuit grounds. The sun was out but we brought our rain gear — the forecast said there would be rain. And rain it did. Our race weekend was our friendly reminder of what British summers really mean — alternating periods of sun (and it can be really warm ) and rain (and it can be torrential rain too).
So, since Allan has designated me to be the one to write about this, I have decided to share with you what we wore and what we brought in order to survive the race.
Before I continue, let me clarify: the weekend was spent mostly at the circuit where you will only be guaranteed cover from the rain if you’re VIP and staying in one of the fancy buildings they have for you. Otherwise, you’re free game for the elements, even if you have covered grandstand tickets. Rain does not fall straight down…add in some wind and you’ll find yourself sprayed with rainfall at your nice and cozy allocated seat. That was a little hint of bitterness here from someone who could only afford General Admission tickets AKA find a spot wherever and try to catch as much of the race from there — mind you, those tickets weren’t cheap either! Right, so we’ve established that we would be outdoors and roaming the grounds mostly except for raceday when we would find our spot and stay there (or risk not seeing anything at all). The plan was to be there from 10 am til end of the Qualifying races on Saturday and from 630am on Sunday til whatever time we fancy leaving the after race party. Yes, long days outdoors.
So if you fancy experiencing Silverstone F1 yourself and would like some tips, please read on. Hopefully this will help you survive your weekend outdoors.
Equipment # 1 – Rain Gear
For us it was time to road test our waterproof outer layer for EBC. If they cant keep us dry for Silverstone then we know we’d be in for serious trouble if it happens to rain in the Himalayas. Take note: if you are in doubt that your rain jacket can withstand pouring rain, then by all means, bring an umbrella. Remember, we’re talking RAIN and not just sprays of water.
Equipment # 2 – Waterproof Pants + Shorts
We brought along our trek pants (yes, another EBC staple) since it is mainly water resistant and we can convert them to shorts. Note, they are only water resistant which means they can get soaked. For us though, it was sufficient. If you’re standing up while its raining and you don’t sit on anything wet, then these will be enough. But if you’d like to sit on the grass or bench while its raining, then please bring waterproof overpants that you can wear on top of your shorts. The key here is that you have the option to wear shorts or pants. Remember that it wont be raining all the time…when the sun comes out in all its wonderful warm glory, you’d want to be able to let your legs breathe and get a little bit of sun.
Equipment # 3 – Tank top + Cardigan
Okay, the tank top is mainly for women, but for the gentlemen out there, go on and substitute your out in the sun shirt alternative here. If you fancy going shirtless, then by all means go ahead. I would still recommend bringing a shirt to wear when the sun’s hiding though. The top is self explanatory… wear something that you’d like to tan in. However, I won’t suggest bikini tops for women — F1 fan based is male dominated (and the smell of beer proves it) and while some would appreciate the sight, some might actually not to be distracted from the race. Its a free country though, so if a bikini top is your best tanning aid, then go ahead. Just be prepared for it (and I don’t just mean bring the sunblock).
The cardigan or whatever else you would like to use as an alternative will be when it starts to get a bit windy and a chill’s in the air. Our rain jackets didnt offer much insulation, so the extra cardigan helped a lot in that area.
Sunnies and Sunblocks
Equipment # 4 — Your standard Sun friends
Sunblock for your body and sunblock for your face — yes most of the time they are two different things (although they weren’t for me for the longest time…what can I say, I’m all grown up!). Do not forget your all important sunglasses as well. Great for making sure you see whatever you can of the extremely fast race cars backlit by the sun (or for the shirtless men worth staring at, discreetly of course). Allan also bought his F1 cap (Red Bull!!!) to help with the sun. My head has always been too big for any headgear so I let my hair do all the “sunprotecting”.
Equipment # 5 — Wellies
I managed the entire weekend just wearing the wellies without substituting them for flip flops. When I wanted them to breathe a little, I took off the boots and just wore my socks. You wouldn’t want to wander around in just socks though as there’s mud leftover from all the rain. Its also because of the mud that I figured I didn’t need to bring my flip flops to the circuit. I’m already terrible at doing my nails, imagine getting mud stuck in them — eeewwww.
Allan carrying the flag
Equipment # 6 – Your colors
Allan was intent on bringing a Philippine flag to the race. I argued that there were no Filipino drivers nor teams in F1. He argued that it would make for better conversation in case it ever made its few second appearance on TV. I figured, what the hell. So we brought our huge Philippine flag to the race. Unfortunately we weren’t in the camera’s view where we were seated so there was no TV appearance.
Chair and Backpack (with raincover)
Equipment # 7 and 8 – Your Miscellaneous and their rain gear
Our main extra item for this trip were our pair of folding lawn chairs. They were essential especially on race day — if you find the spot you like, you unfold your chairs and thereby claim it as your own for the remainder of the day. We arrived on Sunday at 630 AM and our first choice spot was already full. We were luck enough to get second row seats on our second choice spot and our lawn chairs stayed put until around 3pm when the race ended. We took turns buying food and heading to the toilet, but we never feared that we would lose our place, thanks to our chairs.
Other essentials include: cameras (of course), snacks, drinks, cash and books. If you’re there early and you have plenty of time to kill, reading helps make time fly by. I would possibly also recommend a little pillow especially if you fancy snoozing while waiting. Finding a comfy position to nap on the chairs put us at risk of stiff necks, thankfully we didn’t suffer from it.
Finally, everything has to go into a bag. My backpack was our equipment of choice but feel free to bring along your duffel bag, messenger bag, picnic basket, whatever. Just make sure that your bag is also protected from the rain. You don’t want those sandwiches ending up soggy in those wicker baskets now do you?
So there, our equipment list that helped us survive the weekend. Granted, they may not make you the best dressed race goer but at the very least you wont be drenched one minute and sunning yourself dry the next. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why women wore maxi dresses and sandals. They ended up hitching their dresses up a bit and with mud on their feet. They looked lovely, but only when the sun was out and the ground was dry. Not my cuppa tea.
There was quite a mix of thingamajigs that people brought, one of the most common was the coolbox loaded with beer (and maybe water? not sure, but I’m certain there were beer in them). So essentially, its whatever is sensible and whatever floats your boat. Just make sure you check the forecast and if it even mentions rain, bring your raingear.