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Waiting for Miss San Jose Grand Prix

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IN A THICK Aussie accent, a chap named Simon turned to the 22 ladies and said, "OK, girls—on three—look at this camera here and say, 'Welcome to the Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose.'" The girls were posing for television crews beside the pool at the Hyatt near the San Jose Airport.

Decked out in orange and black skin-tight jumpsuits that culminated at mid-thigh, the 22 finalists for Miss San Jose Grand Prix attempted to fight back the blistering sun while feigning juicy smiles for the cameras. They were selected at various pre-event contests and castings held throughout California, and the Hyatt was putting them up from Wednesday through Sunday. Media received a list of the finalists that included their full names, occupations, ages, height and town of origin. The only thing missing was their measurements, of course. Sara Woo, 28, hails from Sunnyvale and is self-employed. Bambi Omo, 24, is from San Jose and works as a hospitality specialist. There you have it. Aren't you glad you know this now?

The photo op was "open to the public," although the public wasn't really notified. One of the girls warned me ahead of time that it would be "camel toe central,"—and I couldn't tell if that was a threat or a promise—but the show was a brief, almost informal introduction to the girls themselves. They were all taught how to pose just a few hours beforehand and they did it almost perfectly. The taller ones stood in the back and the shorter ones knelt down in front. KTVU Channel 2 and KGO Channel 7 filmed video bites. "Beautiful Girls" by Van Halen and "Girls on Film" by Duran Duran softly emanated from the background. All ridiculous female-to-car metaphors aside, it was a lovely sight that really got your engine going. And don't even get me started on the camshaft references ...

This was a big shebang and the girls themselves were looking forward to a rigorous three days' worth of activities. They were basically on lockdown in their hotel rooms with an early curfew. It was two girls per room and if you're even caught with someone else in the room past curfew, then both the girls are disqualified from the competition. Basically, such restrictions were necessary to prevent the girls from sleeping with the judges, methinks, but man, that's rough stuff.

I discussed the matter later that night over a poolside beer with the Pilsner Urquell girls. "Forget that," one said, regarding the lockdown rules. "I'd go back to my boyfriend."

I had returned to the Hyatt to infiltrate the nighttime party for the Miss San Jose Grand Prix finalists, but I arrived somewhat late. A Latin jazz band played while two of the girls danced with balding middle-aged men wearing glasses. The rest of the girls had retired to their hotel rooms, so all chances of copping a stare were pretty much dead and the party was winding down.

The winner of the San Jose leg of the "World's Largest Grid Girl Contest" gets flown to Mexico City for the last Champ Car race in the series, where she will compete with five other gals who won the title of Miss Grand Prix for Long Beach, Cleveland, Toronto, Edmonton and Surfers Paradise, Australia. Yes, one of these local babes just might win it all and become the "Face of Champ Car," the ambassador for the Champ Car World Series. That would be a great thing for San Jose.

Of course, our society will always be infested with puritanical jihadists who claim such events are demeaning to women. Horseshit. If you actually ask the ladies involved, they'll say unanimously that they indeed want to be there and the contest is judged just as much on personality as it is on sheer beauty. I didn't make it to the poolside photographic judging session, which took place at the same time as the press conference with the drivers on Thursday, so I can't necessarily vouch for that. All I can say is, gentlemen, start your engines—mine's in the shop right now.

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From the August 3-9, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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