Ten Things You Need For Going To A Grand Prix

Ten Things You Need For Going To A Grand Prix

And perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t the names of the ten ladies sitting with Mark Webber there! With the British Grand Prix only just over the horizon, and Goodwood’s Festival Of Speed fast approaching, I thought it would be good to list some of the most essential items you need when venturing out to a circuit. As it is at the moment, the UK weather is fairly unpredictable, so I imagine it can be in other countries too. And with circuits often located in the middle of nowhere and simple necessities costing around about the same as my mortgage once inside the track, you don’t want to be forgetting anything.

  • Water

    Bottled water or hydrating drink are top of the list for a reason – they cost a packet once inside. Not all venues allow such items to be taken in (often outside music gigs), but I’m yet to get stopped at a circuit for taking a bottle of mineral water in with me. The benefits of having water are obvious, particularly if the sun decides to come out and play.

  • Shoes

    Strong, comfortable shoes are another essential. People often don’t realise just how much walking they have to do once at a circuit. The car park is usually a hike all to itself, and once inside there is likely to be a long trek to wherever you need to be.

  • Waterproofs

    Be sure to pack a lightweight waterproof. The worst thing about being outside is when it starts to rain. Great for racing, less so for health and happiness.

  • Sun Protection

    This includes sunglasses, hat and lotion. It’s no good being at a race but unable to see anything because of the sun’s glare, and I think lotion is pretty much common sense these days. What is it the Australians say? Slip, slop and slap!

  • Communication

    The mobile phone has become an essential in this day and age, and just about everybody owns one. If your in a group at a large crowded place, means of communication is a no-brainer, and mobile phones these days often come with built-in cameras and radios. Tune it into Radio 5Live if you don’t have the next thing on the list. Also, some mobiles have internet access so you can keep up to date with breaking news while at the track.

  • Kangaroo TV

    Okay, strictly speaking you need to get these at the circuit, but according to Sidepodcast, they are simply awesome. Go listen to their podcast which details their experiences of the device at Silverstone last year. And I’ve just found you may be able to reserve one online. Check out their website for more details.

  • Camera

    It’s low down on the list because these photographs are available on the internet. But sometimes there’s nothing better than taking a shot yourself, even if you aren’t as good as Darren Heath. A word of warning though; be sure to know how to use a camera before taking it to a race. Practice taking photos fast moving objects, like cars on the road (bear in mind your safety) and get used to how your camera behaves at taking these pictures. Also, depending on where you are sitting, a zoom function or lens might prove useful.

  • Programme

    A grand prix is never just a grand prix. There’ll be support races, stands, stalls and just about anything else you can think of. The programme will tell you when certain events are running and they almost always include a map of the circuit detailing where everything is. Also, when the action gets boring you can amuse yourself by reading a silly team and driver biographies they have in them. For extra amusement, head over to a Red Bull stand early to knab yourself a copy of the Red Bulletin.

  • Watch

    It may sound silly, but you don’t want to be queuing up for a burger just as the formation lap begins. Obviously used in conjunction with the programme.

  • Tickets

    Because there’s nothing more annoying than driving halfway across the country before realising you’ve left your entry passes on top of the TV.

For an interesting read and insight into travelling to and from a circuit, read F1Fanatic’s post on his visit to Istanbul Park in 2006. Oh, and I’ve probably missed something from the list, so feel free to add your pearls of wisdom in the comments below.


  • I can’t emphasise enough in taking sun protection of some sort to any Grand Prix! My face got particularly burnt last year at Silverstone and it wasn’t really hot at all, very deceiving!

    You can listen to Radio Five Live Xtra via Kangaroo TV this year regardless of what country you are in which sounds like a great idea. I used a Kangaroo set at Belgium and it was invaluable, just make sure you don’t spend more time watching the unit than what’s going on on the track in front of you! The only minus of hiring a Kangaroo set is the price. I *think* it’s about £60 for a weekend so best to go halves with someone.

  • my advice is never, never, never waste money on a programme. the pics are awful, the writing dire, even bernie doesn’t like them!

    arrive early and grab the red bulletin, it’s free and contains much, much better content.

  • This may just be me cos I was an uber-geek that had to do a podcast about it afterwards, but it’s worth taking a notebook as well.

    If you plan to blog the event or anything like that, making some notes is v. handy.

    Plus, it’s useful as a communication tool because those cars are a little bit on the loud side 🙂

  • Sound advice guys. Thanks for emphasising the sun protection Dank, it shows that even Britain can have good weather from time to time! Regarding the Red Bulletin, it really is limited in copies, so Sidey isn’t lying when he says “arrive early” if you want a copy. And how could I forget the humble notepad. Always handy for me and no doubt many others.

  • Essential number 11 is ear protection. Granted that the sound of F1 cars is quite a lot of the attraction, but it is loud enough to damage hearing if listened to “live” for extended periods of time. Ear plugs are quite sufficient, but ear defenders look cool and are easier to put on and take off (plus you can get them in different colours – perhaps to match the colours of the driver or team you support).

    If you’re going to bring a notepad, bring at least two pens. There are few things more irritating than having something you want to write and something you want to write on it without having anything to write with…

    It’s useful to take food into the race circuit if you are allowed. While the mark-up isn’t as severe as for water, it’s still cheaper, plus you can have a lot more variety. Having a mini-picnic in the middle of the day is a pleasant way to eat.

    If you can find space and if you’re in general admission, a portable seat is handy.

  • An umbrella ! Handy if it rains of course, but equally as handy if its a hot day. The Oz GP this year ran over 4 days of 40 degree heat and there is absolutely no shade up in the grandstands. If I had not had my trusty brolly working overtime I am sure I would have suffered a nasty bout of sunstroke (which I have had before and it is not pleasant, I can assure you)

    I always take in my own food and water too. The prices are generally astronomical and the quality is dubious to say the least. Much prefer a nice salad sandwich ! I also bring a small picnic blanket – handy to cover hard plastic seats, for picnic lunch out on the course or in case of sudden cold snaps.

    Nurofen can also come in handy too !

  • “…but ear defenders look cool and are easier to put on and take off”

    good point, and ear defenders will allow you to listen to kangaroo tv at the same time.

  • Side note about camera(s) : Do not expect to have decent pics with a cellphone even with a 5Megapix sensor. Take a good old SLR with a 80-300mm telelens able to take shots at 1/500s.

    You can have an “out of date” DSLR (such as a Canon EOS 350D) for almost nothing now and they will make much better pictures. The reason?

    (1) THE LENS! The lens diameter of the average cellphone’s builtin camera is around 5mm where an SLR/DSLR will have 50mm. 10 times bigger means 100 times more light 😉 My EOS set to take 2meg pictures will deliver far better pics that what I’ll get with my Viewty’s 5megapix…

    (2) the versatility. Can pickup the program you want to shoot (like sport 2/3 fps…)

    Otherwise a Bridge cam with builtin 28-200mm zoom (Fuji / Lumix) will also do an excellent job for a fraction of the price and the weight. Do not hesitate to buy the old model (discounted!) anything with 4megapix is well enought for amator photography (most of the prints not exceeding A4 size)

  • Oh, yeah sun protection. Those of you lucky enough to live in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly Brits and those from the Scandanavian end of things don’t know how harsh the sun can be.

    In Australia in particular, if you’re white, you can burn inside 20 minutes. Like me. So the further south you go, the stronger the sun protection you need. If that means a long-sleeve t-shirt, do it! Black is better because you can burn through lighter colours and just because there is cloud cover, you can still burn. The hole in the ozone layer is really big here!

    I remember someone asking me why Australians were all so pasty looking – now you know!

  • perfect timing for this post, just packing up my luggage for Canada 🙂

    the Kangaroo TV I recommend too. It does not come cheap, but it is worth the price. And you get to keep the headphones and yes, with Kangaroo you do not need the earplugs 🙂

    the water and food – I think this depends on tracks … In Malaysia or Shanghai you have pretty much zero chance to smuggle any outside food and drinks in …

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