Just an old racing nut who grew up in Southern California, USA. I have been to many races as a fan, including the Long Beach Grand Prix's: 1977(F1), 1979(F1), 2007(Champcar/ALMS). I have also been to the IMSA GTP at Heartland Park Topeka Kansas in 1989 and the Indianapolis 500 practice sessions in 1995 and recently (Nov. 2012) the Formula One practice and qualifying sessions at COTA in Austin Texas.
LONG BEACH, CA.
My buddy and me would ditch school on Friday and ride the city bus to downtown Long Beach. We snuck onto the track usually just after the sun came up and then we would be there all day long till just before sunset. In the seventies a teenage boy could sneak onto the track and I never paid for a ticket for the Friday-Saturday practices and qualifying sessions! Sunday is the only day I had a ticket for because that's all my mom could afford to give me. My good ol mom was the one who enabled me to see the grand prix's (love you mom xoxo).
I remember that F1 was very different in those days compared to today...what I mean is that the cars were different in that innovation and variety was the norm, I mean the cars were different from each other i.e. different engines, different aero designs, different sounds! It was very interesting and exciting because of the variety. The ferraris(12cyl.) had a high pitched shinging sound they made and the matras(12 cyl.)screamed and the cosworths(8 cyl.) backfired a lot and the turbo Renaults(6 cyl.) had a low sounding muted horn sound to them. For a teenage boy I was fascinated by it all, the smells and the colors and the breath taking speed...at the end of the Shoreline straightaway at the hairpin, you see the cars before hearing them, the sound sort of was trailing them almost and when the sound caught up to the cars it was a whooshing sound like a rocket or a spacecraft entering the atmosphere! My buddy from high school and me spent so much time at the track watching every session that I literally was able to pick the winners of both the 1977 and the 1979 GP's in advance and even bought their respective team's ball cap in advance both years. My shop teacher on Monday following the Grand Prix in 79' said to me; "do you always buy a cap of the winning team, don't you have a favorite" , I said that I had bought the hat well before the race on Sunday because I could tell by Gilles practice times and his form that he would win Sunday's race!