Text: Steven Slater / Photos: | posted August 16, 2009 07:00
The 2009 Singapore Grand Prix
It may sound crazy, but how about the ultimate Grand Prix weekend break?
Formula One commentator Steve Slater took a look at the flight schedules and realized that you can fly from Heathrow, take in the floodlit night race around the streets of Singapore, you will be able to enjoy a jam-packed weekend with minimal annual leave - or non at all.
In the ten years or more that I've been lucky enough to join the Grand Prix 'circus' as a commentator for the ESPN Star Sports channel, nothing prepared me for the spectacle that was last year's Singapore Grand Prix.
The atmosphere created by the sultry equatorial evening, the track illuminated by over 1,600 carefully-focused spotlights, and the sight and sound of 20 howling cars racing through city centre streets, was something special. Added to that was the fact that the whole city state was buzzing with excitement. This was, as locals kept telling me, the biggest single international event in Singapore's history - and they were out to enjoy it!
Holding the race after sunset, was perfect as fans wouldn't need to get a tan whilst cheering on their favorite teams. It also meant that everyone was in the mood for partying, which II imagine is music to the ears of those on a weekend break.
This year, the race promoters have added more of just that, with truly sensational entertainment line-up; Backstreet Boys, Chaka Khan, Travis and Rivermaya join the cast of over 200 entertainers all over the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
It's not even as ruinously expensive as you might think. Currently 2009 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix packages are being offered from around US$880 - inclusive of return flights, accommodation and three-day tickets to the race!
All you have to do is sneak out of the office on Friday, in time to board the flight to Singapore. You can either take a nap or plan where you would like to visit during the day over the weekend and once you have arrived at Singapore's Changi airport, it will only take you about fifteen minutes between walking off your flight and clearing immigration. At which point your baggage will already be on the carousel. Honest!
Once you are out, Singapore's efficient and cheap taxi service will have you at your downtown hotel within the hour. That will leave time for a shower and change, before heading into the Marina Bay area of the city and the track, to catch the hour-long qualifying shoot-out for pole position.
Another of the great things about the Singapore race being in the center of the city is that you can take the MRT underground system to within easy walking distance of the grandstands. Once the evening's track action is over, take a walk to the Padang, the grass sports ground right in the heart of the city - and the track - which is the epicenter of all the race social activities, or take in the restaurants and nightlife along the river at the Clark Quay or Boat Quay.
Sunday will give you a chance of a well-earned lie in, plus the chance to use a hotel internet connection to log in online for your return flight. The concierge will also be able to pre-book a taxi to meet you at a rendezvous point, to whisk you to the airport after the race.
Then it's back to the grandstands to take in the spectacle of Formula One's only night race. Start time is 8 o' clock and the chequered flag will fall just after 9:30. Grab your cab, and you're at the airport by 10, plenty of time to chill out before the departure back.
You'll be slightly red-eyed, but you've got the ultimate answer for your colleagues when they ask "What did you do over the weekend?"
"...well you aren't going to believe this...!"
For more information, visit www.singaporegp.sg
For tour packages and race tickets:Red Rock Travel: Visit http://redrocktravel.net or call +632 433 4245. Racegear F1 Adventours: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +63917 528 2725.