After hosting the traditional end-of-season motor sport event in Paris at the State de France for three years, the organisers of the Race of Champions (Michèle Mouton and Fredrik Johnson) decided to change venue for 2007.
It may have been years behind schedule and cost a huge amount of resources to construct, but the new Wembley Stadium in North London was a truly impressive sight when racing cars took central stage.
Back in 2004, when I went to Paris to attend my first Race of Champions I was amazed by the quality of racing from the best drivers from the world of Formula One, rallying, touring cars and single-seaters. The atmosphere – with the fans cheering on their favourite drivers as they tear around the figure-of-eight circuit with tyre smoke – was electric! And when the news came through regarding the event coming to London, I wanted my friends to come along and experience it themselves!
I invited some good friends from the TokyoToys forum who are interested in motor racing. Even though Ashlea, Chris and Michael couldn’t afford the tickets (and to be honest, it was expensive) I was more than happy to pair for them. In fact, it was my special Christmas treat to make them attend the event!
On the day, I meet up with Yas at Baker Street tube station to have a spot of lunch with other TT members. We had a nice Italian meal in a nearby restaurant and it was quite amusing to see the waitress cutting some slices into Amy’s pizza, as she was having trouble with her blunt knife!
After eating, we made our way to Wembley by taking a direct (and very fast) route on the Metropolitan line. After stepping out of the tube station, the first sight you see is the impressive spanning archway over Wembley Stadium.
Chris was running late at this point so we agree to meet him at the entrance point. He finally arrived some time later and we our way in and towards our stand. Initially, I was worried that the seating arrangement at the far end of the stadium wouldn’t offer any good views but when we got to our seats, we had a spectacular vantage point overlooking the figure-of-eight race track!
The event was highly entertaining despite the harsh winter winds! We were absolutely freezing our arses off but the track activities kept our spirits warm.
Double DTM champion Mattias Ekstrom won the main Race of Champions after beating the seven-times Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher in a series of tense heats. But Michael had the last laugh as Team Germany won the Nations Cup with fellow colleague Sebastian Vettel.
The most amusing moment in the Race of Champions was when Schumacher stalled on the start and finish line! Michael was even overtaken on the track by new McLaren signing Heikki Kovalainen. This was the high point for the Finn as he would later crashed out in spectacular fashion in a dramatic race with Andy Priaulx.
After the fun day out, we all made our own way home and once back, I was happy to see the many photographs and videos posted on Facebook by the others! Reading the various comments on that popular socialising website, everyone was ecstatic about the event and Yas in particular was looking forward to attending the event next year. For Michael, he was fond to see his idol Schumacher racing while Ashlea and Chris enjoyed the whole experience. Same time next year everyone?