On October 24th at some unGodly hour (4am !!), I met up with our Rev-up4DSI 2008 Grand Prize winners, Brian Marsh and his Ten year old son Sam. Brian had (at his own cost) brought his Sixteen year old son Ben along too. Brian won the prize of an all expenses paid (and none spared!) VIP trip to the Valencia round of Moto GP by participating in Rev-up4DSI 2008 and raising in excess of €3,000, thus making himself eligible for the Grand Prize Draw, generously sponsored by Gordon Howell of Pole Position Travel .
After flying into Barcelona, we duly picked up our hire car (after a game of hide and seek with an Opel Corsa!) and headed South for Valencia. En route I got to know Brian, Ben and Sam a bit better and the two lads instantly became known as “Too Tall” (Ben) and “Too Small” (Sam) due to their height differences (and my propensity for forgetting names!). Brian and the lads told me that they had never been to a GP so I made it my goal for the weekend that they would want to see another!
Between Brian and myself and my trusty map book we successfully navigated the Spanish roads and found ourselves at The Novotel Valencia, our base for the weekend. After dropping off our luggage we decided to abandon the car and take the Metro into the centre of the old town for dinner.
After our wee sight seeing trip into town we made our way back to the Novotel to get ready for Pole Position Travel’s VIP Opening Party. Gordon, Brett Murphy (Event Manager) and the rest of the Pole Position Team for the second year in succession, hosted a Gala auction in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland with signed items from Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Nicky Hayden, Jeremy McWilliams and Wayne Gardner to name but a few and a full VIP trip to a GP of their choice, again donated by Gordon! To gather this amount of items around the paddock speaks volumes for the Pole Position Travel team in regards to their knowledge and contacts in the paddock not to mention their dedication to our cause for which we are extremely grateful. After Gordon and I made some brief introductory speeches and with the food and wine in full flow the auction got underway. When all the lots had gone under the hammer, Gordon announced to the floor that the evening had raised in excess of €6,000 for DSI! A fantastic achievement and I must thank all attendees for their generosity.
Saturday morning dawned and the sky was overcast as we boarded our luxury coaches for the short trip to the circuit. On arrival and armed with our passes we were swept stress free into the plush surroundings of the VIP Village, where quite literally all your needs are catered for thus allowing you to enjoy the spectacle that Moto GP is. After a quick breakfast, the Marsh clan and I went for a guided paddock tour where amongst others we rubbed shoulders with Stoner, Rossi, Lorenzo and God himself Kevin Schwantz! After lunch and armed to the teeth with souvenir shirts, hats programmes etc we made our way (all of twenty yards) to our VIP Grandstand overlooking turn one to view qualifying. Now anyone who hasn’t viewed a Moto GP up close really is missing out on the noise and smell of these thoroughbreds at high revs. The look of sheer awe on Too Tall and Too Small’s faces spoke a thousand words.
With nothing set in stone for Saturday evening, and Sam and Ben starting to feel the strain of two early starts in a row the Marsh’s chose to dine in the Hotel while I ventured again into the old town for dinner. If ever you decide to travel to Valencia and feel the need to get off the beaten track, please don’t follow my sister’s directions!! After a few hours and what felt like two marathons, we eventually found a smashing wee restaurant that served fantastic steaks and probably the coldest beers I have ever tasted.
Sunday morning dawned with blue skies and the promise of a great days racing as we again boarded our coaches for the short trip to the circuit. Again we were whisked effortlessly through the gates to the VIP Village for breakfast. After morning warm up (the bikes, not us ) we took the executive decision to stay in our Granstand while the VIP masses thronged pitlane to view the machinations that make Moto GP what it is (we had taken in the pits on Saturday afternoon when the crowds are less). Our decision proved most beneficial as it allowed us take up vantage points wherever we chose, Too Tall and I took up sniping spots at the front while Brian and Sam chose to sit higher up thus taking in a view of more of the circuit. The circuit itself is styled on an amphi theatre of days gone by and thus the sounds and smells of the bikes reverberate around the stands adding an extra dimension to the spectacle.
Anyone reading this is, I am sure all too aware of the results of the racing so I won’t go into them, but you really have to stand over turn one once in your life as forty odd 125’s try and hit the apex all at once!!!
Sunday night we again took in the sights and sounds of the town down by the fantastic old bull ring. With everyone wide eyed from the days racing food and cold beers were definately the order of the day.
Monday morning was again beautifully warm as we packed up the car, thanked the Pole Position crew and reluctantly made our way back towards Barcelona to catch our return flight to Ireland.
Below you will find some notes from Brian, Ben and Sam thanking Pole Position Travel and DSI for looking after them in Valencia, but I personally want to thank them, especially the two lads for being the great company they were all weekend.
Down Syndrome Ireland.
“It was great fun in Valencia. On Saturday I really liked the pit lane walk, all the posters are up in my bedroom and we took a look at the photos you put up on your website and they all look spectacular and I also loved the red bull rookies. On Sunday I liked all the shops behind the circuit. The Moto GP was absolutely brilliant and hope I will go to another one and also you were a great navigator .Thank you for helping us around the place.”
Those comments above are from my 10 year old son, Sam, who got the lucky second ticket for the Valencia MotoGP trip sponsored by Pole PositionTravel (www.polepositiontravel.com) for the Rev -Up 2008 draw. An incredible prize, with flights, hotels, Moto GP VIP tickets all in, and MotoGP VIP is absolutely full-on and all-in! A DSI charity auction on Friday night, brief sleep for all (I also brought my 16 year old Ben), transfer to track, food and drink on tap all day in the village, practice sessions all Saturday, paddock and pit lane tours, and above all the almighty circus of Moto GP all day, And all over again on Sunday, but this time for the races. The Pole Position guys clearly take a huge interest in the sport which really shows in their attention to detail. Having someone with the depth of knowledge of the sport like Aidan really made for a great trip.
I now have two sons addicted to Moto GP – the bikes, the noise, the smell of burning fuel and rubber, the glamour of the top players – Rossi, Hayden, Stoner, Pedrosa, Hopkins, and the up-and-coming Red Bull rookie Mathew Scholz (who came to the Friday night get-together)
My elder son Ben, being 16, says little and therefore enjoyed it a lot, and reckons we have said it all above.
Great prize – great trip!