Deep in the Heat/Heart of Texas---Reflections from the Seats

27 October 1999

Reflections from the Seats

By: Ace 

Place: CART FedEx Race - 1999 Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston September 
24 - 26, 1999

Introduction: after numerous discussion with Mr. Gordon president of 
"theautochannel.com" I have negotiated an arrangement to write a column which 
I have titled "Reflections from the Seats" [payment in beer]. What I am 
trying to achieve is an experience and assessment of actual events and 
stories that I have encountered as a race fan from going to motorsports 
events throughout out the United States. I will let the others journalists 
write about the actual details of the race. Let this be an experience of what 
it is like to be an attendee of a motorsports event.


 Location background Houston Texas

The city of Houston in hosting the event in their town [I believe this is the 
second year of a five year contract]. Really appears to be going out of it 
way to make this a successful experience. The location of the temporary road 
course is located in an up and coming section of downtown Houston near the 
George R Brown Convention Center. It basically in a run down butt ugly 
neighborhood completes with hobos and decrepit buildings. But you have to 
look into the future to see where this section of town is going. While at the 
present moment you wouldn't want to be there at night. The future looms on 
the horizon. Presently being built in this neighborhood is Enron Field, which 
will be the new baseball stadium for the Houston Astros. I can envision a 
future visit where not only I will be attending an Astros game concurrently 
during the race weekend but also a number of trendy hotels and bars charging 
overpriced drinks [this being the price of progress]

I have the benefit this weekend of being with a group of old motorheads like 
my self. My old frat buddy Mr. Moto and Alex the Woodchopper who will be 
joining me this weekend in a number of escapades. Mr. Moto who is a long time 
resident of Houston, brings a locals perspective of the city. Very helpful in 
getting in and out of the venue as well as going to the local gentlemen 
establishments but that's for another column [best pick St James club by the 
airport]

OK on with the race

Mr. Moto having secured the seats for the race day only, has been altered to 
a local give a way contest by Texaco who is the sponsor of the race. 
Basically for a free fill up of gasoline of ones vehicle you receive a free 
admission entry for Fridays race events. Hey this is a saving of twenty 
dollars, which equals more beer for us. We enter from one of three entry 
points this one being by the George R Brown Convention Center. The entry 
point was chosen for its access in and out of the area. [Benefit of having 
Mr. Moto's local knowledge]

 As we enter the neighborhood we encounter difficulty in trying to park, 
being Friday the office worker of downtown Houston have taken most of the 
eligible parking in this rundown part of town which is adjoining the 
Chinatown district. Unfortunately there is no order or coordination in this 
neighborhood that a race is in town. Plenty of weed strewn lots that could 
have been earning money from race fans parking going to waste. I am sure in 
the future with Enron field being completed this situation will improve


The facilities of the race have tremendous potential but it needs some 
refinement. There are plenty of concession stands offering a good variety of 
food and beverages [beer]. But there is not a place to sit down to enjoy ones 
meal. With your hands full of food and drink its tough to eat standing up, 
also as the event is held in September the temperature in Houston averages in 
the high 80's.The facility should take a queue from the Toronto race and 
provide a beer garden setting with tables with umbrellas to sit down and get 
away from the sun.

One of the more interesting parts of the racetrack facility is the paddock 
area. The paddock is located inside the George R Brown Center which means 
that its air-conditioned. The venue is much bigger than most paddocks that 
one encounters at other tracks. But this type of facility also takes away 
from the hustle and bussle of what you expect. Air conditioning is good, but 
it makes the paddock atmosphere sterile. Most of the area is blocked off for 
the race team, which gives the fans limited access to the drivers; tuff to 
get autographs and encounters with the infamous beer girls

            T & A AND THE BEER WARS

One of the most interesting aspects of the race day experience that you 
encounter is "THE BEER WARS" there are a number of beer companies who are 
sponsors in CART of race teams. Budweiser, Miller Brewing and Tacate are the 
main participants. But the most interesting aspects of this sponsorship is 
the marketing tool known as 'THE BEER GIRLS - THINK INSIDE THE BOX YEA 
MOTORHEADS'

The beer girls are the ultimate marketing tools that brings out the best of 
the today's American business environment. Nothing like a hot looking babe 
with her corporate logo on her outfit to change your taste in beer. Hell some 
of these girls are so good looking you might even change your religion, woof 
- woof.


At Houston the beer girls were broken down into two camps. The TECATE GIRLS 
who are regulars on the CART circuit. The Tecate beer company is the sponsor 
of the Patrick racing team car driven by Adrian Fernandez. The girls are very 
friendly and are more than accommodating if you want to have your picture 
taken with them. This photograph makes a great souvenir of ones day at the 
races. Maybe in the future I will publish a separate article featuring my 
photos of the beer girls from past events

The Budweiser girls on the other part had more of an attitude problem; they 
were locals models hired for the event. I gather this was their first race 
and had no idea what they were getting into. Nothing like a bunch of horny 
motorheads to indoctrinate you into the race track environment. With that in 
mind yours truly tried to get a picture with the Bud girls and after much 
persuasion they obliged. The Bud girls spent most of their time at the 
Budweiser bandstand in the middle of the track. There were a number of local 
bands that performed during the event, and the Bud girls job was to act as 
stage ornaments wiggling and swaying to the beat. Ok not such a bad way to 
spend ones time. All that was needed was a tent over the area and a few 
picnic tables and the venue really improves. Houston try's they just need 
some refinement to the facility. As for Miller which also sponsors a race tam 
they were no where to be found. In fact I have not seen the Miller babes 
since the Long Beach race but that's another story.

As for the beverage selection at the venue. I must say it was acceptable. 
There was Bud side by side with Tacate [limes included]. No beer drinker 
would have gone thirsty. 
Sidenote at the event my fellow motorhead Alex the Woodchopper through no 
doing of his own is prohibited from drinking alcohol, his attempt to secure 
an non alcoholic brew was paramount to defacing the Alamo in Texas. Not a 
warm and fussy response in his quest to be one of the beer guzzling boys.

OK Ace but what about the race? Give us some color. I love the smell of 
menthol in the morning. Yes Sunday is an early day, get there early or wait 
in traffic. And that's what we did -Early.  The place we wanted to park was 
secured by some corporate drug company with no sample giveaways. Anyway we 
parked next to Enron stadium near the hobos and proceeded to the track. Our 
seats were in turn two a very good section with a superior view of the vision 
board. One aspect that the track doesn't provide is an internal radio 
station. This feature only is available at a handful of venues. It really 
helps to hear the ontrack commentators when the race is on, which gives the 
fans more insight into the ongoing events. Live and learn Houston. Mr. Moto 
and his friends of the famous SRO sports bar had most of the seats in the 
section where we were sitting in. even our own buddy " The Hanging Judge from 
Austin" made an appearance, but that another story. It's a good time when 
your watching a race with your friends someone is always making a beer run. 
All they need is the piss boy and you will never have to leave your seats. A 
good race and a good time enjoyed by all

 Dear reader this is a new feature for "theautochannel.com" and I hope that 
you have enjoyed my insights into the race experience. If so please tell Mr. 
Gordon - I am thirsty and am waiting for my salary in beer to be paid. Till 
then motorheads- see you in the seats  - ACE

Publishers Note: I really enjoyed this first article from Ace and hope you did too. 
Look for more up close and personnal first hand "Relections from the Seats". 
When did Ace say he would show us the Beer Girl Archives? 
                                                                              
     




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