I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Australian F1 Grand Prix in a special hospitality area called Traction. This was something of an experiment. Traction occupies a fabulous position on the track, where a corporate stand used to be, on the inside of the track at the apex of turn 4. From there, viewers can see the cars enter turn 3, enter and exit turn 4 and enter turn 5.
Traction is a new concept in Grand Prix hospitality and entertainment. Previously, race attendees could choose from general admission, a grandstand seat or very expensive corporate stand accommodation. General admission is good value, albeit physically uncomfortable, with mediocre and expensive food and drink. Grandstand seats are expensive and you get the same rubbish food and drink. Corporate accommodation is very expensive and seemingly very pleasurable. I’ve never had the pleasure.
Traction is somewhere in between. For between $210 and $250 per day (depending on your sex – women were able to get discounted tickets via en exemption from the Equal Opportunity Act – and whether you booked early) you got an exclusive area of the track, which was one of the best areas on the circuit, all you could eat food and basic drinks (Carlton draught, Cascade light, bubbly, and write and red wines), cafe tables and chairs with umbrellas for shade, and toilets that were not used by thousands of people and hence not totally disgusting. The food was really good – usually in snack sized portions. Below is the fish and chips.
The butter chicken curry and rice was delicious.
There was a big difference between Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, it was not full, and the atmosphere was laidback and relaxed. No one was interested in the DJ and the doof doof noise.
Sunday after the race was a completely different story. Suddenly, the vibe was frantic and the party came alive.
Finally, this is the view of the Traction area from the middle of the track after the race. Just another sunny Sunday in Melbourne. Overall I thought it was excellent value and a positive experience, though I have ideas about how it could be improved. It was only the second year of operation, so I expect that they will review and improve their offering to the public for 2008.