Meeting Formula 1 Driver Alexander Rossi Before the US Grand Prix in Austin

Yesterday I arrived in Austin from Los Angeles, excited to visit this fun city, spend some time with my sister and her husband, catch up with friends from high school, and….attend the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas this weekend!

We attended the first USGP (U.S. Grand Prix) at COTA (Circuit of the Americas) in 2012 and had a blast. Our schedules have not allowed us to return, until now.

When I arrived at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport yesterday afternoon (a really cool airport, by the way. Live music, a Longhorn fan store, free WiFi for 1.5 hours, lots of plugs for charging and eats from The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que and Amy’s Ice Creams to name a few highlights), I was greeted with ads from Mobile 1/Honda/McLaren.

I like this one on the stairs leading up to the airline club lounges. Note also the Dell signs to the right. Apparently there’s a Dell conference of some sort this week (Dell headquarters are in Round Rock, north of Austin), and their ads were quite clever.

IMG_8929After I picked up my bag, I checked my twitter feed and I saw something about Manor F1 driver Alexander Rossi cooking/serving at the Chi’Lantro BBQ truck starting at 2:00 PM. I still had to retrieve my rental car, but I thought I might be able to get there.

I rushed over, arriving slightly after 3:00 PM to learn that the truck was closed for the day. Bummer. But, sitting at the picnic tables in front of the truck was Alexander Rossi.

Recently, Rossi, who was a reserve driver for the Manor F1 team, was named a driver for Manor F1 at several of their final races for this season. There has not been an American F1 driver since 2007 when Scott Speed raced for the Toro Rosso team. As this is the US Grand Prix, there is a quite a bit of excitement for an American driver to race in front of American fans at Circuit of the Americas!

Meeting Alexander Rossi

Rossi was talking to the crew from NBC Sports as they had just concluded an interview with Will Buxton and Jason Swales. I was able to chat with him for a few minutes before he had to leave for more PR engagements, and we talked about the sound of the new engines. He said that you can hear different things now that the engines are quieter, like the tires. I’m excited to hear the cars tomorrow during the first two practice sessions.

He graciously posed for a picture with me – I couldn’t believe how tall he is once he stood from the table. He said he’s 6’2″!! That is quite tall for a racer.

IMG_8932I also asked to pose with Will and Jason, who were fully decked out in Texas attire!

IMG_8934Three years ago at the first USGP, Will hosted, “Buxton’s Big Time Bash,” at a local bar. It was a fun time meeting fellow F1 fans before the race weekend. I was excited to meet the man behind the fake Charlie Whiting twitter account, and I also met Will! It was fun to see him again yesterday, and he said that we must attend his fourth annual bash as there are many drivers planning to attend and surprises in store. The bash is tonight at the Rattle Inn. More information can be found here.

Here’s a photo of me and Will at the first bash in 2012.


To cap off my drop by Chi’Lantro, I met Blair Soden, the executive producer of the NBC Sports show, “Off the Grid,” and a Penn alumna! We had a bit of a moment when Will asked us about Penn State!


Needless to say, but I was quite excited to meet all these folks yesterday afternoon. We are looking forward to the Formula 1 Fan Forum and Will’s bash tonight, and then tomorrow the fun begins on the track with practice sessions (fingers crossed the predicted rain holds off).


Sharing Weddings Around the World for #FriFotos

This Friday is the last #FriFotos. The weekly twitter trending hashtag was started five years ago, and the #FriFotos hosts decided that it is time to end this weekly fun. Each week a theme was announced on Tuesday and everyone on Twitter was encouraged to share their photos around the theme. I always enjoyed thinking about my travel photos in a new way – instead of gathering all of my pictures from one particular trip, the theme made me think about things I saw on many trips. For the final #FriFotos, the theme is #memories – get your photos ready to share on twitter – and to see the memories that others share as well!

Back on July 10 of this year, the theme was weddings. It’s always a happy time when you see a wedding party no matter where you are, and I especially love spotting weddings when I am on a trip. Here are some of the photos I shared in July – some are from weddings of friends here in the U.S. In all of them, everyone is very happy for the couple and their life journey ahead.

A happy couple after posing along the water in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005. It was a beautiful summer day and there were brides and grooms everywhere taking photographs. If you look behind this couple, right along the water, you can see the white of another bride’s dress.

wedding st

St. Petersburg, Russia with Peterhof in the background.

Here is another couple on that same day in St. Petersburg.

Kissing along the water in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Kissing along the water in St. Petersburg, Russia.

When I was in Hong Kong for business in 2006, I wandered around exploring the city and by chance came across city hall. There, there were wedding parties everywhere! The entire courtyard was full of brides, grooms, bridesmaids, groomsmen and family and friends. As you can see from the photos below, every where I turned was another wedding party!

wedding hk 7wedding hk 4wedding hk 6wedding hk 2wedding hk 1Here are some photos of my friend’s weddings.

My high school friend married outside in Park City, Utah on a lovely summer evening.

wedding daniMy dear college friend Marianne married in the fall in a castle in Maryland.

The F1 Italian Grand Prix podium, 2007.

The picture is blurry, but I love how happy Marianne and Jon are as they make a toast.

While preparing this post I remembered some additional wedding photos I snapped while in Italy in 2013, and I thought it would be still fun to share them here.

We saw this couple in Naples posing for photos with a photographer and videographer.

Bride and groom in Naples with their camera and video crew.

Bride and groom in Naples with their camera and video crew.

In Positano, we saw this couple as they exited a church as newlyweds and then posed for photos.

Happy couple in Positano leaving the church.

Happy couple in Positano leaving the church.

Posing on the steps in front of the church in Positano.

Posing on the steps in front of the church in Positano.

This couple is almost hard to spot on the Spanish steps in Rome, until they pose for the photographer.

Can you spot the bride and groom on the Spanish steps?

Can you spot the bride and groom on the Spanish steps?

wedding rome 2

New to #FriFotos? Here’s a quick guide on the rules by Jeffrey Epstein. Remember, the LAST FriFotos is this Friday, October 16, 2015. The theme is MEMORIES!

#FriFotos was started on 15 October 2010 by Jonathan Epstein (@EpsteinTravels). Jonathan is the President and Owner of Celebrated Experiences, a company focusing on travel to the UK and Ireland. He is passionate about photography, his favorite hobby. Each week Jonathan cohosts #FriFotos with Stephanie Diehl (@TravelDesigned), Charles Yap (@CharlesYap), and Spencer Spellman (@SpencerSpellman). Jeffrey Epstein (@jeffreyinmotion), CEO of HBIM was a key advisor in the creation of #FriFotos and continues to assist in the Forum’s growth and success.

Flashback: A Toast to Penn in Northern California

Fall in the Northeast conjures images of brightly colored leaves on trees, cool nights, pumpkins and warm apple cider. Fall in California means it’s a perfect time to visit a winery!

Here is a post I wrote about a wonderful event organized by the Penn Club of Northern California – a wine tasting at the private winery of alumnus Phil Schlein – back in 2012.


This post was originally published on the Frankly Penn blog on October 4, 2012.

A Toast to Penn in Northern California

By Kiera Reilly, C’93  @KieraReilly

A few weekends ago, I traveled one bright sunny Saturday afternoon to the wine country north of San Francisco. There, the Penn Club of Northern California hosted a wine tasting made possible by the generosity of Phil “Spike” Schlein, C’57.

Spike opened his family vineyards and gardens in Oakville, Napa Valley, for touring and a wine tasting. The Schlein family (Spike’s children Kathy, C’83, and Ted, C’86, are also alumni) honored the club with a similar event three years ago, and were happy to welcome local alumni again.

Spike helped facilitate the wine tasting, and shared his story of becoming a winemaker, and the history of the vineyards that he’s owned for over thirty years. Everyone enjoyed the garden setting and delicious lunch buffet. Beth Topor, W’80, vice president of membership and communications for the club, shared information about upcoming events, and club co-president Tom Eliaz, ENG’02, encouraged alumni to share their ideas for future events and to get involved with activity planning. Alexandra Feinson, C’11, undergraduate admissions counselor for Northern California, attended and spoke to the group about Penn admissions. After lunch, Spike led everyone through a tour of the vineyards.

The Penn Club of Northern California thanks Phil Schlein for opening up his winery and all the alumni who attended and contributed to our Club Book Scholarship Program. They raised $1,855 and with Phil’s generosity providing the food and beverages, 100% of the proceeds goes to scholarships for local Penn students! We also thank Arthur and Lindsay, two of their past scholarship recipients who spoke on the value of your donations. If you were unable to attend the event and would like to contribute to scholarships, click here, every dollar helps!

What a treat to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in a beautiful setting and enjoy the conversation of fellow alumni.

Here’s a toast to Penn! And a toast to Phil Schlein!

Hurrah, Hurrah!

Click here to join the Penn Club of Northern California, sign up for their email newsletter and get involved with the club. You can also find the club on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @NCPennClub.

For more information on Schlein Vineyards, click here.

This post was originally published on the Frankly Penn blog on October 4, 2012.