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July 12-18, 2006

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2006 San Jose Grand Prix:
Katherine Legge | where we watch | why we watch

Where We Watch

Do you want to see the action, or do you really want to feel it? Whatever kind of Grand Prix watcher you are, we have the spot for you.

By Gary Singh

DEPENDING on whether you're a grandstand type, a woodsman type, a couch type or a bar stool type, there are several ways of experiencing the San Jose Grand Prix. At the start/finish line, you've got the same air-conditioned luxury boxes above the grandstands as last year, but the pit lane has been moved to the drivers' right, so the audience has a much better view of the track. Also, the grandstands are much closer to the track, making for a killer view. If you're the sedentary type, this is the main place to scope out the race.

New grandstands have been installed right at the hairpin turn, and at presstime, they were already sold out. But if you can get a ticket, go for it. You can see the cars come right straight at you from the starting line and then slow down to a crawl as they tackle the hairpin turn. A giant television sits in front you, providing simultaneous coverage.

The turn from southbound Almaden onto eastbound Park Avenue has been widened and a few of the palm trees have been removed as the cars proceed toward Cesar Chavez Park, changes that will allow for more passing than last year. As the cars turn the corner and go south on Market, the same great views are offered, along with a large television—same as last year. Even if you don't have a grandstand ticket, and despite the fact that you can't see the whole race from behind the fence, it's still pretty dandy standing there in the park watching the television broadcast.

But many discovered last year that getting specific seats is not the best option for everyone. It can be a lot more fun just creeping in and around the wooden, ivy-covered areas in the vicinity of the Civic Auditorium. Last year, people were hanging from the trees and getting fine glimpses of the action. Hell, you can just walk around along the fence and at least hear the machines as they race by. Here's one example: stand at the very south end of the stretch of Market—right where the cars turn onto Balbach. Last year, you could just feel the machines come tearing down the track. And that turn is widened this time around, so there should even be some passing goin' on there.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to secure a hotel room at the Hilton looking down on Almaden, you're really in luck. A room at the Crowne Plaza will let you sit at the bar patio, which overlooks the race, but it's at street level, so you're faced with the chain-link fence, but at least you can sit down and feel the noise over a few beers. And if you're going to hang out and walk around, definitely consider earplugs. It's high-decibel amusement.

Or, just be a couch potato and watch it at home.

But don't forget, just being around downtown during the race is a blast. If you don't want to spend the money on a ticket, hang out in the bars and soak in the action. It's just plain fun to be sitting there in a bar in San Pedro Square, watching the race on TV, knowing that it's taking place right around the corner. There are options for everyone.

Grand Prix On-Track Events

Friday July 28
7am Gates open to the public
8-9am BMW practice
9:15-10am Atlantic practice
10:15-11:30am Champ Car practice
11:45am-12:15pm Pace Car on-track activities
11:50am-12:10pm VIP pit walk-through
12:30-1pm Historic Stock Car practice
1:15-1:45pm Atlantic qualifying
2-3pm Champ Car qualifying
3:15-3:45pm Pace Car on-track activities
3:20-3:40pm VIP pit walk-through
4pm Champ Car fan appreciation activity: All driver autograph session
4-4:30pm Drifting Challenge 1
4:45-5:15pm BMW qualifying 1
5:30-6pm Historic Stock Car qualifying

Saturday July 29
7am Gates open to the public
8-8:30am BMW qualifying 2
8:45-9:30am Historic Stock Car practice/Canary Foundation fundraising race
9-9:15am Atlantic practice
9:45-10:15am Atlantic practice
10:30-11:30am Champ Car practice
11:45am-12:45pm Pace Car on-track activities
11:55am-12:35pm VIP pit walk-through
noon-12:30pm Atlantic driver autograph session
1-1:45pm BMW race 1
2-3pm Champ Car qualifying
3:15-3:35pm Drifting Challenge 2
3:45-4:15pm Atlantic qualifying
4:30-5:15pm Pace Car on-track activities
5:30-6pm Historic Stock Car race

Sunday July 30
7am Gates open to the public
8-8:15am Atlantic warm-up
8:30-9am Champ Car warm-up
9:15-9:30am BMW warm-up
9:45-10:15am Pace Car on-track activities
9:50-10:15am VIP pit walk-through
10:15am Grid Atlantic
10:30-11:30am Atlantic race
11:35-11:45am Drifting Challenge 3
noon Grid Champ Cars
12:45pm Start of San Jose Grand Prix
3:15-3:35pm Historic Stock Car race
3:50-4:35pm BMW Race 2
4:50-5pm Drifting Challenge 4
4-4:30pm Historic Stock Car race

Race Week Events

Wednesday July 26
Grand Prix Night
Cinema San Pedro
See cars and meet drivers at the Grand Prix kickoff while watching the outdoor screening of The Blues Brothers. Free

Thursday July 27
First Annual Canary Foundation Golf Tournament Lodge
CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin
11am Barbecue buffet lunch and registration
1pm Shotgun start
Followed by cocktails and dinner
Pairs with 4 Driver
VIP Party tickets: $2,500
Foursome with 8 Driver
VIP Party tickets: $5,000

Street Fest
First and San Salvador streets
San Jose
Live music, food and beer. Free

Friday July 28
Driver VIP Party
San Jose City Hall Rotunda Plaza
7pm Beer and wine bar, buffet dinner,
Silent Auction
7:30pm Champ Car driver arrival and interviews
8pm Official ceremony and unveiling of
2007 Champ Car chassis
8:15pm Circus performances
Individual tickets: $200
"Pit Crew" (10 tickets): $1,800

Saturday July 29
CXO- Celebrity Go-Kart Challenge benefiting Canary Foundation
Park Avenue next to Adobe Systems Inc.
Includes: participation in race; access for donator and three guests to Grand Prix Champ Car Paddock, Pit Area and Grandstand Seats all three days; table for 10 at "Cabana" at the Fairmont; racing helmet; photo with celebrity drivers; parking pass and catered lunch Saturday.

Fairmont San Jose Imperial Ballroom
Cocktails, dinner, dancing, Silent Auction
Entertainment provided by the Doobie Brothers
Luxury resort-wear suggested
Individual general seating: $500
Reserved table for 10 closer to stage: $5,000
Private cabana for 8: $15,000
Private cabana for 10: $25,000

Track Crossings

Friday July 28

Saturday July 29

Sunday July 30

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