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Cleveland Diary:
Day One
Saving The Best For First

Cleveland, Ohio, June 22, 2007 Usually the best comes last, but on a beautiful lakeside day with changes aimed to improve the spectators' enjoyment and hot action behind the grandstands, the Grand Prix of Cleveland got off to a roaring start by the shore.

Changes Again. Last year, Cleveland made a number of changes for the spectators' sake in an attempt to revive the event. Like I reported at the time, the buzz did come back to the Grand Prix of Cleveland and the many changes were certainly positive ones to increase the enjoyment of the race by the fans.

Like any good promoter, you never rest on your laurels. Mike Lanigan, being a successful businessman, understands this concept. Thus, more changes were made for this year's race that will further enhance the experience.

All the changes focused on opening up the "infield," or perhaps more accurately, the island behind the pits. There was a lot of space that went to waste.

Thus, a pedestrian bridge was erected near the first turn at the end of pit road, one of the best, if not the best, temporary bridge I have ever seen at a race track. In fact, it's better than some permanent bridges I have experienced. The bridge takes you to the island which naturally has fences erected to keep the fans and hot pit area separated as well as away from the trackside wall.

One downside to this change was the necessity to erect catch fencing, since fans are now in potential impact areas. The catch fencing blocks what used to be an unimpeded view all the way down the straight no matter where you stood and which direction you looked. However, where there is a loss there is a gain, as you can now watch from deep into turn one all the way to the turn-in point, where in the past you weren't even allowed far enough down to observe the braking zone.

Nothing was forgotten as amenities are provided in this relatively isolated area including port-a-potties, food concessions, and a mini-beer garden. It will be interesting to hear how many fans enjoy this new viewing option and will opt for this instead of grandstand seats in the future.

Best Weather Ever. Let's play word association.

Input: Grand Prix of Cleveland.

Response: Ninety-plus degree temperatures with over 90% humidity coupled with the occasional sudden, and severe, thunderstorm rolling off Lake Erie. And no shade in sight.

Well, not this year. After seemingly endless years of suffocating weather on a wide open paved area, the racing gods finally bestowed upon us a gorgeous day that is supposed to be repeated for both Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures in the 70s, relatively low humidity, barely a cloud in sight, and a nice breeze off the lake. You could not ask for anything better the day after summer officially began.

Even our drive from Rochester, N.Y. went smoothly despite a number of construction zones in Pennsylvania and Ohio (why are those two states always perpetually under construction?). Perhaps the only downside is our motel. Poor choice by yours truly. Not just the motel conditions, but the questionable suburban neighborhood it resides in.

Take Your Pick. As this event regains its buzz, more and more activities are added to the midway. Interestingly, so many more racing events are also being added, one wonders how someone could spend any time behind the grandstands as the action on the track is virtually non-stop all the way till 9:30 P.M. (it helps to start the weekend on the longest day of the year and be on the western end of a time zone). And if you still wanted to stick around, there was drag racing under the lights all the way till midnight.

Nonetheless, if you do choose to spend time not watching the track, there are a number of adventure sports to watch like BMX bicycle stunts, motorcycle jumping, and amusement rides. And for the titillating factor, there is of course the Miss Grand Prix of Cleveland contest. But wait, there is something else as well -- professional female beach volleyball. (Sorry girls, no guys volleyball.)

With all this on and off track action going on, lucky for you, we were able to cover both. I know, it was quite the sacrifice, but we are always willing to perform the tough jobs for our readership. However, we did not get the results of the beach volleyball games. Does it matter?

As for the 2007 Miss Grand Prix of Cleveland, that went to the lovely 19-year-old Melanie Soster. The most intriguing contestant was Andrea Reshonsky, a long legged attractive blonde whose job is a tow truck driver. I expect numerous breakdowns by suddenly mechanically incompetent male drivers across Cleveland this weekend...

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Copyright © 2007 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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