Once again we’re trackside at the Grand Prix with the F1 Racer balloon. When we arrived, there wasn’t much wind but there were showers of rain coming through so we put the van and trailer next to each other, rigged a tarp and set up the BBQ to cook up some breakfast.
Shortly before the start of the first F1 qualifying session, we spoke with the met bureau and they confirmed that we had a few hours without rain and with relatively light winds, so we dismantled the “camp ground” and started setting up the balloon.
The winds were a little high but less than they’d been on the day of the race last year, so with two heavy 4WD’s upwind and the van downwind, we managed to keep it tethered. Rob was taking it up and down so the bottom of the basket was around 20′ to 30′ off the ground and giving the crew rides so we could see more of the track – I got some photos on my ride but the fence was still in the way :(
We were getting lots of attention from the public with people taking photos of the balloon or shots with themselves in front of the balloon, etc. A couple of people came over to say that they were renting a corner apartment in one of the buildings over the road and we were blocking their view of the last few corners – ooops :)
After a couple of hours, the winds got too high so we pulled it down, leaving it out in case winds eased and a couple of us went to refill the tanks. On our way back, we could see the rain coming so we packed it up quickly, getting it mostly away before the rains came. We then took the trailer and van over to the fence and set up the BBQ for lunch.
Standing on the roof of the trailer we had a good view of the track but again, that damned safety fence was in the way :(
After a short time it became clear that the wind wasn’t going away and the odd rain shower was still coming through so we called it quits for the day, some of the guys heading home right away. I took advantage of some clearing weather to take a ride in one of Professional Helicopter Service’s JetRangers. I called shotgun and was up front with Andy (the pilot) and shot some video (I’ll link it once I sort it out – it’s in MOV format and at 90 degrees ‘cos I was holding the camera on its side – DOH! :)
After all that, I left and took the last of the crew back to the shed before heading home for the day.