In the street, I run into Alessandro and Natasha. He's got his Ferrari cap on backward; she wears a big, happy grin. Having connected at the hairpin, we exchange greetings like old buddies. I duck into the F1 Emporium, a shop filled with racing shirts, jackets, and a Ferrari motorbike that a customer wants to buy for his grandson. "He's six," says Gerry from New York. "My daughter will probably hate me." Gerry says he left his Ferrari, which he'd bought in Maranello, at home, and got the terrorist going-over while crossing the border into Canada. "Still, I love Montreal! They go all out! I like Massa. The one thing I don't like is Bernie Ecclestone. Oh . . . and Max Mosley."
Don't get me started. For the record, Mad Max, the president of Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, F1's ruling body, just got let off the hook. Caught getting his puppy wet with five prostitutes dressed like Nazi nurses in a London sex dungeon in March, Mosley has been ostracized by the royal pooh-bahs of Bahrain, brushed off by the Prince of Monaco, and pilloried by the automotive press. But money talks. And Mosley has made lots of money for F1 and has been rescued from receiving a pink slip, at least for now. But I agree with Gerry that Mosley and F1 Boss Ecclestone should go. A new era's dawning. Or so I hope.
High noon at the track: the sun's merciless. I find shade behind the hairpin bleachers, lie down, look up through drooping leaves, doze off to the grumble of a nearby Penske truck.
It's been hectic. More F1 practice sessions. Qualifications for driver development teams run by Ferrari and BMW. Fans I've talked with have been all over the map. Some know racing, others know zip. Montrealer Carolyn Archambault, here for the third time and selling T-shirts at a stand, was stumped when I posed a difficult question: "Who's your favorite driver?" Then she gushed, "The cutest one!" In contrast, Jack Kennedy, licking at a fast-melting ice-cream cone, ticked off races he'd attended: eleven here, one in Hockenheim, U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen back in the day. "I saw Jackie Stewart race Jimmy Clark there in '67. My favorite driver? Clark - the guy never did anything wrong. Today I like Kimi. He's braver than Superman; nobody intimidates him."
Then there were the rowdy, cooler-encircling fans from Lachine, a city suburb. They threw their arms over my shoulders and raised beers to the sun. A dozen working-class folks, both genders, they'd staked out a spot on the cement with a prison-window-sized view of the hairpin. "We're only here for the fun," boasted Pascal Turcotte. "And the drinking!"