THE DEMO TAPES

This coming Wednesday in Austin, Texas, Daniel and Sebastian will don their race suits, fire up a combined 1300-plus horsepower of F1 and road machinery and blast their way through sequences of full-bore runs up and down the city’s Congress Avenue main drag.

 The Infiniti led run, involving Dan at the wheel of an RB7, is the latest in a long, long line of running showcar demos the team has been involved in over the past 10 seasons.


In that time we've been to some amazing places, met some extraordinary people (some of whom have driven our cars!) and we've brought Formula One to millions of people who might not ordinarily get the chance to feel the power and the glory of an F1 car being driven in anger.

The business of taking F1 out of the world's race circuits and bringing it to the masses isn't always easy, however, and the logistic of making a live demo happen involve a lot of time, a lot patience and a lot of meetings, as our Head of Brands and Events, Anthony Ward, explains.

 

 

"It's often very difficult to get these events going for a variety of reasons," he admits. "I suppose the first concerns the budgets, because we're moving between 5,000 and 7,000 kilos of air freight every time, which is never easy.

"It can also be quite difficult to get the permissions and get the sign off on safety," he adds. "We often have to request road closures and obtain permissions for large crowds of people. For example, we had an event in Milton Keynes [the team's Home Run in 2011 to celebrate the team's second double title win] and we had to plan fire escape routes for up to 100,000 people. In Bangkok, 250,000 people turned up and we pretty much closed down half the city. There are concerns that need to be taken into account and safety has to come first."

We love doing these events. To take a Formula One car to a public road and give people a chance to get up close and personal with a Formula One car is fantastic.
The process begins months before the event when a tentative schedule of running showcar events is drawn up at the team's HQ. Once the wild ideas and high concepts are whittled down to practical levels the hard work begins.

"It's usually a case that Red Bull will come up with an idea, a market will approach us or we will develop a concept ourselves," says Ward. "We'll then begin to work out the logistics and start to scope out locations. We'll do a recce, get the necessary permissions from the local authorities and work out the budgets. Finally, we'll organise the team, working out how many cars we're bringing – whether it's two RB7s or an RB8 – and then we'll get everything on the road.

"Once we're at the location, we'll meet the local market people to work out how they're going to promote the run and we'll make sure they have all the correct permissions," he adds. "We'll also meet with local authorities, the police and fire services, just to cover any safety issues and we'll fine-tune a crisis plan, just in case anything unexpected happens.

 

 

 

"If it's a public run we'll be putting up barriers, negotiating rights and organisational promotional activities. That can be quite a complex procedure, there's a lot of infrastructure for a public run. For a filming run it's more about storyboarding everything properly beforehand. After that it's all about trying to put on a good show and wow the people who do turn up – which can be anything from 20,000 to 400,000 people."

While that sounds like a lot of hard work, there's still more to come as the showcar team itself grapples with the challenges it's often presented with. From racing the car along the golden sands of a Caribbean beach to trekking it up the Himalayas, the crew in charge of our fleet of F1 machinery has performed some set-up and modification miracles over the past 10 seasons.

People are turning up to see your team and your drivers. They're passionate about that and they really show it.

"It's sort of similar to a race event, although there isn't the same number of people needed as at a race," says Support Team Manager Tony Burrows, who leads the showcar team. "Sometimes we have to make some modifications to cope with extreme conditions and we have to pick the ride height up a bit to make sure of ground as some of these demos aren't on the smoothest roads in the world!"In terms of the team we take a couple of electronics guys, a couple of engineers, a few mechanics, it's probably about 10 to 12 people in the team and people just love it.

"We love doing these events," he adds. "To take a Formula One car to a public road and give people a chance to get up close and personal with a Formula One car is fantastic. You can't even see that when you pay to go to a track to watch a race. To actually be feet away from a car that's doing a donut, to get the smell of the rubber, to hear the noise and really feel the power of an F1 car is something... it drives the crowd mad and we love it."

Ward agrees that it's the atmosphere generated by bringing F1 to unfamiliar locations and offering fans a chance to get up close and personal with a grand prix car that is the biggest thrill.

 

 

 

"It's fantastic when we're doing these events in confined spaces, such as street in Tokyo, where the fans don't have much room to move. The tension really builds and the atmosphere is often really electric. People are turning up to see your team and your drivers. They're passionate about that and they really show it. And the fact that they get really close to the action is just great."

Over the past 10 seasons the team has taken its F1 racers to more countries than we can count and to millions of fans but there are naturally events that stick in the mind more than others. Both Tony and Anthony agree on some of the highlights though.

We had a really great time, the first time in Austin, the people there were just fantastic and we look forward to going back there this week."There have been a couple that I will never forget," says Burrows. "The run on the highest road in the world was one. Red Bull asked us if we could do that, so we tuned the engine, played around with it and took the car up to 18,000 feet and ran it on the Khardung-La pass between India, China and Pakistan in the Himalayas. The sights and that experience is something I'll never forget.

"We also drove a car on a frozen lake in Quebec," he adds. "Again, Red Bull asked us if we could run on ice, so we thought about it, tweaked a few things, put some studded tyres on and Sébastien Buemi went out and had some fun on the frozen ice. That was a fantastic experience, but incredibly cold, I think it was about minus 40 degrees.

"The extreme opposite was then being asked could we drive the car along a beach in the Caribbean. We've done so many memorable ones but those are the three that stick in my mind."

 

 

While Ward agrees that the Himalayas and Quebec runs were memorable he also adds three more from the vaults that hold special memories.
"The run with did with Tom Cruise [with the movie star piloting an RB6 at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in Southern California], the Punta Cana run with Jaime Alguersuari on the beach in the Dominican Republic and the Seven Star Spin in Duabi [where David Coulthard did donuts on the helipad of the Burj Al Arab – 2010 metres above the sea]."Those were incredible, but there are others as well," he adds. "Filming in Austin [the first time before the track was completed] was amazing and a bit different. Running through the Lincoln Tunnel in New York and doing donuts in front of the Statue of Liberty was also very special."
Ten seasons of live demo action has taught Burrows one thing, however: there are always new places to explore and he insists that the future is bright for the showcar team.

"We had a really great time, the first time in Austin, the people there were just fantastic and we look forward to going back there this week. I think we can do something special. But it's not the only one. We've got events coming up in Australia and Dubai, so we get around a bit and there are more to come. There are some big things coming up, so just watch this space."
As part of our celebration of our 10 seasons in F1 under our #10SeasonsRacing hashtag we'll be raiding the video vaults over the coming weeks, unearthing some of our most memorable adventures and revisiting some of the amazing countries, cities and people we've met along the way. So keep an eye out across all our channel for news of more Demo Tapes coming your way soon.