Taking your child to their first Formula 1 race can be a fantastic experience, at least I hope so because I’m taking my son to Practice Rounds this Friday. For those of you not familiar with formula 1, it’s basically three days of motor racing awesomeness. Practice rounds are Friday, Saturday is Qualifying and Sunday is race day. Many things happen in between so read more about it here. We are very excited at the Jones house because F1 is finally back in the US, best of all the track is in Austin Texas!
The last race I saw live was in Montreal a few years ago, I am so happy to be going to a race again. I have learned a few things from going to races over the years that I want to share with you here.
The first thing to know is that the cars are VERY loud, much louder than they are on TV.
Your child will need proper ear protection
- Ear protection is the most important thing to remember to bring for your child and yourself. You can purchase these range muffs at stores that sell sporting equipment, they are located where the guns are kept and are specifically for sporting events. I wear those foamy earplugs you get on the plane and just bring three sets, don’t use those for your child.
- Bring a small set of binoculars.
The cars move very quickly, and there is a lot going on on the track. Your child will enjoy finding interesting things to look at with a set of binoculars.
- Make sure your child is old enough to enjoy an all day sporting event. Formula 1 tickets are not cheap so before you spend the money on tickets for the whole family take your kids on a “trial run”. A good way to do this is to get tickets for Friday’s Practice from someone who will not be using theirs. Tickets are sold as a set for all three days and many times people can’t take off work on Friday. So find someone who will not be using their tickets. My son is 9 and has grown up watching F1 on TV, he knows some of the drivers by name but this is the first year I have even considered bringing him. Why? Because I don’t want to spend my time entertaining him, I want to watch the race. On the other hand I have seen people bring infants to races, do what is right for your family and your child’s ears.
- Bring sketch paper just in case your child wants to draw. I don’t believe in letting my son play on his Nintendo while the race is going on, but I think it’s fine to sketch during breaks. Friday is a pretty low key day with many breaks in between the practice sessions. We are also bringing a LEGO magazine Jay, Loyd and Kai (Ninjago characters) since they like motor racing. If you are OK with your child doing another small activity while there is nothing happening be sure to pack it with you.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure you and your child drink plenty of water, being outside all day can be dehydrating.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The parking lot will likely be faraway from the racetrack so wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. I wore my brand new Ferrari sneakers to a race once and they got really muddy even though it wasn’t raining. Lesson learned.
- Bring a radio or install a radio app on your phone. I am very old school, I bring a battery operated radio to every race.
My husband laughs at me but guess who tries to plug in during the race.
When you get to the race they will let you know what station to tune into so that you can hear the announcers. This is especially important if you are new to the sport, because without the commentary you will be lost on race day. Even if you have been following the sport for a while it’s still nice to have a radio so that you know what kind of tires drivers are switching to in the pit lanes and other important things. If you want your child to listen to the radio put their ear protection over the ear buds.
- Dress in layers and bring a backpack. Since you will be sitting outside for a while it’s nice to wear a lot of layers to keep yourself warm. This is especially important in a place like Texas where it can be cold in the morning and then really warm the afternoon. You can stash your unwanted layers in your backpack.
The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the race. I’m so excited that I will finally see the racetrack in Austin, it’s been a long two years waiting for it to be built. Hope to see some of you out there.