San Jose Grand Prix
Off the Track
Photographs by Felipe Buitrago
As the tagline goes, the San Jose Grand Prix is more than just fast cars; a gargantuan variety of activities take place off the track throughout the course of the races. You can see Matt Helm, the Bay Area's leading Dean Martin impersonator, performing several times on the Sports Bar Stage at the McEnery Convention Center. With the recent flurry of infomercials hawking episodes of the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, you just can't turn down a chance to see the next best thing. As a member of the Rat Pack, Dino was one of the coolest cats and monster entertainers of all time. So expect raucous, authentic versions of "Volare," "That's Amore" and more.
Another event the Rat Pack themselves would have wholeheartedly sponsored is the swimsuit competition judging finals of the Miss San Jose Grand Prix contest, which takes place at Taste Ultra Lounge on Thursday night. For the competition, the doors open at 6pm and you can schmooze with the girls for a few hours until the contest begins at 8:30. The top three Miss San Jose Grand Prix Grand finalists will eventually join the winning drivers on the podium for the trophy presentation, where they will get completely soaked with champagne, unbeknownst to them, of course. It is not easy competing for Miss San Jose Grand Prix, as the girls are submitted to strict schedules and curfews. According to the guidelines, they are required to be "very reliable, friendly and promotionally orientated." For the swimsuit event, the cover charge for men is $5 and women get in for free.
For an activity that the whole family can partake in, try the San Jose Grand Prix track walk. On Wednesday evening, when the raceway is first closed off to through traffic, persons who registered in advance can participate in a "twilight memorial walking lap"; that is, they can walk the entire length of the raceway for free. You can traverse the exact same path where the drivers will be doing 170 mph over the next few days. Now that's fun.
For those with deeper pocketbooks, the all-out San Jose Grand Prix Driver Party takes place in the City Hall plaza Friday night. For $200 per person or $1,800 for 10 people, you can hobnob with all the drivers and the celebrities. Pretty much all the bigwigs attend this one, and the folks who operate Mission Ale House and Smoke Tiki Lounge will supply an over-the-top buffet. Awards and raffles top off the night and you can even purchase photos afterward. Throw in celebrity go-kart races, freestyle Moto Cross in Discovery Meadow and the Grand Prix girls signing autographs and the package is complete.
Last year, fans showed up at Discovery Meadow to watch Diamond Dave jump and get hot for teacher. This year, while cars are burning up Almaden Boulevard and surrounding roads, Burning Rose, Goodbye Gadget, Seven Reasons, Stroke 9 and Matt Helm as Dean Martin will be rockin' the crowd. A new addition this year will be a comedy performance courtesy of Anjelah Johnson. (Click here to see a full-size image of Diamond Dave.)
New, vintage and the kind of car that doesn't need roads will be on display at the Convention Center. Whether it's speed or style—or, more than likely, both—it's sure to be there. Cool Corvettes and Shelby Mustangs will adorn the halls for gearheads to drool over. (Full-size version)
Miss San Jose Grand Prix
It's not easy being Miss San Jose Grand Prix. Underneath the glamour of the title is a thoroughly packed schedule in a whirlwind year of appearances and official duties. But exposure? Yeah, there's a lot of that, which is one of the reasons contenders flock to the contest each year. There will be rehearsals and autograph sessions Friday and Saturday as a run-up for the contest finale Saturday evening at the Budweiser main stage at 5pm that will determine this year's winner. (Full-size version)
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