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Formula One racing gets your adrenaline pumping

Columnist Steve Lange got hooked on the European races and it's getting worse.

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I watched, really watched, my first Formula One race at a pub in -- city name-drop alert -- London a few years ago.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Formula One has it all. The most exciting start in motor sports. Cars worth $15 million inches away through hairpin turns and down 230 mph straightaways. Two-second pit stops.

Ferrari versus Mercedes versus Aston Martin versus Red Bull. The best drivers in the world (Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso). Race courses that wind through the streets of Monaco or Valencia, Spain or Baku, Azerbaijan.

F1 is the top racing circuit in the world, but the European focus (and early morning U.S. start times) make the circuit less popular here.

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I don't like getting up early. But now, on F1 Sundays, I regularly set that 6 a.m. alarm to take a blanket and pillow to the living room couch to lie back down and watch the race.

It's getting worse. Because now, on F1 Saturdays, I regularly set that 6 a.m. alarm to take a blanket and pillow to the living room couch to lie back down and watch the qualifying laps.

And — bonus! — F1 started offering a service for viewers in the United States in which you can pick your favorite driver to give you a pre-recorded, pre-race wake-up call. It's called "Wake Up With A Formula 1 Driver."

Why, yes please, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen.

I get hooked, easily, on lesser-known sports. LIke the three-year stretch I spent following Australian Rules Football (shoutout to the Port Adelaide Power). The two years of the American Cornhole League (shoutout to top cornholer Matt Guy). The last four seasons of Premier League Darts on BBC America (I'll miss you, retiring former champ Raymond van Barneveld).

In 2004, I ruptured a disc in my neck and herniated another, and the pain forced me to spend much of that summer sleeping flat on my back on the hardwood floor of our living room. Late one night, while watching some weird sports channel, a cricket match came on. I was, literally, in too much pain to be able to move enough to reach the remote control. Cricket matches, it turns out, can last for hours and hours. I watched the entire thing. Involuntarily, but still. I was hooked. Shoutout to the Men in Blue, India's National Cricket Team.

Last Sunday, my phone rang at 5 a.m. Lindy and I both bolted upright in bed.

Five a.m. phone calls never bring good news. Five a.m. phone calls cause my adrenal gland to instantly release large quantities of adrenaline hormones into my bloodstream. Five a.m. phone calls make my heart and respiration rates increase.

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I answered the phone. Then, as I sat there listening and not saying a word, Lindy kept whispering “What is it? What is it?”
I hung up and laid back down.

“It was Max Verstappen,” I told her. “Reminding me about this morning’s Formula One race.”

And we both laid there, without speaking, listening to each others’ breathing slowly return to normal.

With Lindy, I imagine, silently willing me to grab my blanket and pillow and head to the living room couch.


Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

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