All Of The Terrible Ways I’ve Camped At A Race Track: A Timeline

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Photo: Elizabeth Blackstock

When I say we had no idea what we were doing when we camped in Austria, I would be understating things. Not a single person I was going with had ever actually camped before. No one had any idea what it would be like to camp at a track. We also didn’t speak German, so we really had no idea what we were doing.

For this event, we flew into Munich and rented a car that we drove to Spielberg, Austria for the most cost savings. However, we also brought four people along, and Austria only allows three people per campsite. That meant that, to enter the site, one of us had to be smuggled underneath all the luggage in the backseat. As the resident Short Shit, that someone was me. We quickly learned, though, that Austria was a lawless land; not a single person ever checked our wristbands when we entered or left the campsite, which was a good thing, since we (i.e. I) also lost one of the wristbands on the very first day.

To illustrate how ill-prepared we were, I present the following:

  • No one brought anything to sleep on aside from fleece blankets. After the first miserable night where even four people couldn’t manage to generate a little heat in a two-person tent, we had to buy yoga mats to insulate us from the ground.
  • We brought one case of German beer and one bottle of Campari. They were both gross, but walking around with a German beer did get us a lot of free beer from Austrians who wanted to prove that they brewed a superior lager.
  • For some reason, we stocked up on canned soup. We were, apparently, going to eat it cold. We never did because it was gross, so for the whole weekend, we thrived on bread and peanut butter (which quickly became a staple food for us) and trackside concessions because Magnum ice creams and bread rolls were one single Euro.
  • I packed exactly one pair of jeans to spend a week in the cold, damp Austrian mountains. On the first night, my friend spilled beer on those jeans. I had to walk around smelling like a brewery for the rest of the weekend, which somehow included a van ride with Alexander Rossi and Richie Stanaway into the GP2 paddock.
  • We did not realize that grown Austrian men would be blaring Avril Lavigne’s entire discography every night, so I don’t know that any of us slept.

Small victories? We made great friends with the Austrians, got raucously drunk, and met Natalie Pinkham in our campsite:

Image for article titled All Of The Terrible Ways I've Camped At A Race Track: A Timeline

Photo: Elizabeth Blackstock

I’ll never forget the extended Austrian family that literally built their own bar, brought their own home-brewed beer, and adopted us for the weekend because we had no idea what we were doing. Only one of the people there spoke English well enough to communicate with us.

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