This piece was written by Rachel Wenzlaff, a University of Texas Journalism Student and a member of the Risi Competizione/COTA Young Journalism Program 2015.
The Porsches made me late.
I live 30 minutes from the Circuit of the Americas. This morning I decided to give myself one hour to get from my apartment to the parking lot at COTA and then from the media shuttle to the media building. Theoretically I would have had 15 to 20 minutes to spare.
And then there were the Porsches.
I squeezed into the media van, shoulder to shoulder with large, sweaty cameramen and expensive equipment at my feet. The door was slammed shut and we were off… and then after five feet we were stopped.
An exceptionally slow moving car coral of more than 150 Porsches blocked media vans and shuttle busses from making their way onto the grounds.
We sat motionless in the van, counting Porsches like sheep. Large gaps separated the cars. A reporter sitting behind me pointed out that professional racecar drivers would have known to drive nose to tail, but in the driver’s seat of these cars were mostly affluent, influential men with little to no racing experience. They were simply people who could afford the cars and gathered to show them off.
“Okay this is bull sh**,” a reporter next me shouted. “Drive, just drive!” he told our driver. “I have to get to work!”
After a little more persuasion and support from other reporters in the van, our driver slowly began to creep his way into the cavities between the Porsches.
A parking lot attendant flailed his arms, motioning us to stop.
“No!” our journalist leader shouted out the window. “We are going!”
The driver, clearly uneasy, followed orders and rolled past. Lead and followed by sports-car steads, we finally arrived at the media building.
But that experience was only a taste of the extravagant lavishness I would experience at the Lone Star Le Mans.
A walk down the paddock is a walk down luxury lane. Trucks for BMW, Corvette, Mazda, Audi, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Viper, Porsche line the paddock path. The newest and most advanced models of each car rest behind ropes receiving careful touch-ups and maintenance.
Price values of the cars range from $500,000 to $2 million. That’s 19 to 77 times as much as my college tuition.
Young fans peered over the ropes, attempting to persuade their parents to into irresponsible purchases.
“That’s the car I want for my sixteenth birthday,” a young boy said to his dad, while pointing at a Corvette.
I walked farther down to the retail booth, where purchases become more reasonable, but not much. Want an Aston Martin zip-up jacket? That will run you $200 before tax. A Ferrari zip-up? $110.
My college student bank account and I were definitely out of place here.