Anyone who knows me personally knows how excited I am every time its Grand Prix weekend in Singapore and the F1 entourage rolls into town. I almost literally start counting down the months, starting from the day the last race ends, delighting in every small milestone – when artists are announced, when tickets go on sale, when the scaffolding for the lights starts to go up around the Padang, when our passes are ready for collection, when they start testing the lighting, and you can see how it goes on.
This started pretty much from the first race, and has now become something I plan my schedule around every single year.
Awesome times with my lovely sister, my #1 race weekend partner in crime. It was our deal to attend every race together – until she moved to the United States to pursue a career in golf. Now she’s stuck with sucky Nascar!
My dad introduced us to the world of motor racing when we were kids. You could say we were raised Ferrari fans in what I will always consider the “golden era” of the sport – of epic battles between Michael and Mika, Ferrari and McLaren, of team orders, race strategies and all that good, GOOD stuff. Things evolve so quickly, but there’s just something about race weekend. This ridiculous excitement and energy that just courses through the heart of the city the moment the floodlights hit.
In fact, without being dramatic or superficial, the first race was one of my absolute proudest moments as a Singaporean. No one knew how the whole night race concept would take flight, especially at the start. Everyone whined about traffic and road closures. But as I sat in the grandstand watching my city magically transformed into something I never imagined possible, and beamed all over the world for people to see, it felt like such a special moment for me and my country.
We spent the first two races young, jobless and carefree, before things had to change. I started work, and she moved to the United States to pursue a career in golf, making it really tough for us to keep that same date on the calendar, year after year. But thank goodness we managed to get together for one final hurrah between us – and the start of more unforgettable races, thanks to my awesome kickass job.
Shell is a client of mine, which is really, almost a perfect fit in a profession dominated by women, seeing as how I’m one of the rare few who love driving, cars and motorsport. Imagine my delight when the first race rolled around and I found myself seated right across the Ferrari pit and starting grid, all in the name of work. She’d flown back to watch the race with me and ended up helping out a whole load that weekend, and the least I could do was make sure she was right there with me.
My most epic race night ever, right at the heart of the action opposite the pits and in front of the start / finish line. For years, I’ve watched on TV in envy as people would flood onto the tracks at other races. This time, I had my turn to do so, under the floodlights of my home GP with the best company ever – my sister and the original Shellettes!
Our seats at the Pit Grandstand were AMAZING. We even got to see a flaming Heikki Kovalainen roll to a stop in front of us before jumping out and extinguishing his burning car, all on his own! Such a hero. For all the extra dollars you have to pay for those super premium seats, the experience in Zone 1 is truly different from the rest of the circuit park. Now if only those $1,000 tickets were within my financial means, I’d be right up there, every single year.
But well, with work, every race throws up a new way to see the race. This time, I brought my colleagues to see the sport I love so much, and my dad – the man that introduced me to Formula 1, to watch his very first Singapore Grand Prix. But more than that, I got to meet a certain young Brazilian driver, whom I’ve been following since he first started racing alongside Kimi at Sauber way back when, way before he joined Scuderia Ferrari.
I was hoping that someone would have had the presence of mind to run to the front of the insane crowd and get a shot of me sharing the stage with Felipe Massa. Nobody did, and I thought the moment was lost forever, until I saw this photo published on TODAYonline the next day! So unbelievably lucky.
Like I said, I’m lucky that I love motorsport, and my work gives me so many reasons to be excited every time F1 comes around. The last four years of grand prix racing have each been awesome and special for a different reason each time. I already have plenty to look forward to in the week running up to this final installment of my “home” Grand Prix, with more exciting stuff with team Scuderia Ferrari on the cards. But above all, I want to have watched this fifth race knowing that it will not be the last time that I drive on the roads I know so well lined crash barriers and track markings, bathed in light bright as day even under the night sky, nor the last time the scarlet cars zoom around against the backdrop of our city skyline. The Singapore Grand Prix really is WAYYY too good to let go. So let’s go for one more round, shall we?