For the Love of Leonard’s Malasadas

We are flying to Oahu early next week – and I’m already anticipating our regular visit to Leonard’s in Honolulu. I honestly do not know how I knew to visit Leonard’s (although Dave says that he told me about it), but for my first trip to Hawaii back in 2001, we visited, and I have made a stop there almost every year since then.

Leonard's bakery in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii as seen in August 2013

My Instagram post of the exterior of Leonard’s in August, 2013.

My first trip to Oahu was as an alumni relations officer for the University of Pennsylvania, so it is only fitting that I first learned of malasadas when I was a student at Penn. Each year, Penn hosts, “Spring Fling,” a weekend festival for students featuring parties, performances, band, fun games and activities, and a break from attending classes, writing papers, and taking exams. Held in the Quadrangle at Penn, there were many food booths on the perimeter of the lower Quad area, and one food booth that was there every year was the Hawaii Penn Club, manned by students from Hawaii. They sold malasadas in their booth. I did not think much of it, other than that’s must be what they eat in Hawaii.

Flash forward to my first trip to Oahu and tasting malsadas from Leonard’s. And, oh my goodness….they are good. So good. Fresh, warm dough covered in sugar, and inside is delicious filling of chocolate, haupia, or custard. Quite simply, Leonard’s malasadas are to die for.

Malasadas from Leonard's bakery in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Malasadas from our last trip to Honolulu in February, 2016.

Basically a malasada is a very doughy doughnut, covered in sugar and often filled on the inside with a pudding or custard. As described on the Leonard’s website:

A malasada is a Portugese doughnut without a hole. We fry generously-sized balls of dough until it’s golden brown on the outside and light & fluffy on the inside.

Malasadas from Leonard's bakery, honolulu, oahu, hawaii, august 2015

Malasadas!

There’s a story inside Leonard’s about the bakery (they do sell cakes, cookies and other goodies, but honestly, we only come for the malasadas), and the Portuguese origins of the malasadas. Here is a bit of the history of Leonard’s, also from their website:

In June 1882 the British sailing ship ‘Monarch’ brought Arsenio and Amelia DoRego from San Miguel Island, Portugal to Maui, Hawai’i under contract to work the sugar cane fields. Some 33 years later, their grandson Leonard was born. In 1946 Leonard and his wife Margaret moved to Honolulu with their daughter Diane, age 8. Leonard worked at Snowflake Bakery until he founded Leonard’s Bakery℠ in 1952.

Leonard and Margaret were no strangers to hard work, both coming from very large families. The bakery prospered. Not long after opening, Leonard’s mother suggested making malasadas for Shrove Tuesday – a Portuguese tradition. Although thinking it may be too ethnic, Leonard’s bakers complied. Malasadas were a huge hit. And, the appetite for malasadas in Hawaii was born.

Leonard's bakery in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii in August 2015

The inside of Leonard’s bakery in August, 2015.

Leonard’s is a short ride from the hotels in Waikiki, and we’ve walkdc there in the morning from our hotel – so we feel less guilty about eating a second malasada. Because you can’t only have one!

leonard's bakery, honolulu, hawaii in June 2009 Oahu

We walked to Leonard’s from our hotel in June, 2009.

There is always a line whenever we visit, though it moves quickly. Even though the parking lot is small (see in the photo above), people do not stay there long, so cars are always pulling in and out of the lot. There is street parking on the side streets, but if you wait a few minutes, a spot will open.

Since they sell so many, the malasadas are always fresh. You can take some to eat later (we brought some back on the plane once), but they really are best enjoyed the day you purchase them.

Box of malasadas from Leonard's bakery in Honolulu, Hawaii

The distinctive pink box with blue type holds delicious Leonard’s malasadas. This photo is from July 2011.

Leonard’s offers several different fillings for the malasadas  – the chocolate is our favorite, although for me haupia (coconut) is a close second. There is a flavor of the month – guava is one I remember, and you have to try the monthly special! There are also different sugaring options – regular, cinnamoin and Li Hing. Regular sugar is delicious, but Li Hing is also pretty tasty. It’s a sweet-sour taste, that adds to the flavor of the malasadas.

Malasada menu at Leonard's bakery, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii in August 2015

The Malasada menu at Leonard’s

We did enjoy a malasada at one other bakery once during a previous trip to Honolulu, and it was good, but it wasn’t as good as Leonard’s. So, we’ll stick with what we know and love.

Leonard's bakery, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii in August, 2013

There’s always a line at Leonard’s, but it moves quickly. Here is the line and cashier in August, 2013.

You know that I’ve been talking about Leonard’s a lot when one of my friends said when she thinks of Hawaii, me and malasadas come to mind! Basically, whenever someone mentions that they are traveling to Oahu, I tell them that they must stop at Leonard’s!

Box of Leonard's malasadas in Honlulu, Oahu, Hawaii August 2015

Dave holds our box of malasadas in August, 2015. We ordered six – 1 original, 1 li-hing (for me), 2 dobash (chocolate), 1 haupia (coconut) and 1 of the monthly flavor, macadamia.

Have you visited Honolulu and tried a malasada from Leonard’s?

If you haven’t stopped by Leonard’s before, I highly recommend you make it a stop on your next visit to Honolulu!

Leonard’s Bakery

933 Kapahulu Avenue

Honolulu, HI 96816

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday 5:30AM – 10:00PM

Friday – Saturday 5:30AM – 11:00PM

Here is Leonard’s on a map:

And here’s a view on the map so you can see how it is relatively close to Waikiki – and also to H1, so if you leave your hotel in Waikiki, you can make your way to Leonard’s before jumping on the H1 to get to Hanauma Bay, for example:

Leonard's bakery sign in Honlulu, Oahu, Hawaii August 2013

It’s a beautiful day for a malasada from Leonard’s (in August, 2013).

box of malasadas from Leonard's bakery, Honolulu, Oahu, hawaii, August 2013

I love the distinctive pink box!

Visiting the Petersen Automotive Museum with LA F1 Fans

After several years of gathering to watch Formula 1 on television in bars around Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Formula 1 Fans meetup group gathered for a non-race event to tour the Petersen Automotive Museum last Sunday.

Inspired by a Twitter discussion of Bugattis, group co-leader Mara picked a date in February for us to gather and tour the museum. I had not visited the museum since it re-opened in December, 2015, after a $125 million restoration, so I was excited to see the museum with fellow car racing fans. Not sure how many  people would attend an event that did not involve watching Formula 1, Mara was pleasantly surprised when over twenty people pre-paid so that our group received a discounted ticket rate.

Meeting in the museum lobby, Mara checked everyone in and purchased additional tickets while we mingled and discussed the latest developments in Formula 1 (the hot topic was Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement, Valtteri Bottas’ signing with Mercedes AMG Petronas to replace him, and Felipe Massa’s un-retiring to drive this year with Williams).

Everyone gathered to pose for a photo in the lobby before we entered the museum.

LA F1 Fans group photo before our Petersen Automotive Museum tour

LA F1 Fans in our first non-race viewing event at the Petersen Automotive Museum

After trying to squeeze all of us in the elevator, and bouncing a few times, our group split and made our way to the third floor to begin exploring the museum. The top floor featured early cars, such as this replica of the first practical car, an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen, as well as General Motor’s 1996 EV1, the world’s first mass-produced electric powered vehicle.

The first practical car an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen replica at the Petersen Automotive Museum seen with LA F1 Fans

The first practical car – an 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen (replica). One prototype was built and 25 replicas.

1996 General Motors EV1 at Petersen Automotive Museum

General Motors’ 1996 EV1, the first modern, mass-produced electric vehicle.

This being Los Angeles, the home of Hollywood and the film industry, there are several cars featured in movies on display.

1963 Volkswagen Beetle, Herbie, driven in the film Herbie Fully Loaded on display at Petersen Automotive Museum

1963 Volkswagen Beetle, “Herbie” driving in the 2005 film, “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”

We wandered the exhibits on our own pace chatting with fellow F1 fans.

LA Formula 1 Fans at the Petersen Automotive Museum talk by a 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne XP-37

LA F1 Fans discuss car design in front of this 1955 Chevrolet Biscayne XP-37

This 1953 Nash-Healy was particularly beautiful.

1953 Nash-Healey designed by Pinin Farina on display at Petersen Automotive Museum

1953 Nash-Healey designed by Pinin Farina

For those more interested in race cars, this 1997 Porsche 911 Gt1 was a special treat to see.

The McLaren P1 on display showcases the production vehicles developed by the other side of the McLaren F1 team parent company.

2015 McLaren P1 at the Petersen Automotive Museum

2015 McLaren P1

An exhibit on American racing legend Dan Gurney opened January 28th. “The Eagles Have Landed: Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers,” features 11 AAR cars, memorabilia and short films on the walls of the display about Dan Gurney’s racing career.

Dan Gurney exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum featured the 1967 AAR Eagle Gurney-Weslake V-12 #36 F1 Grand Prix Car

Dan Gurney exhibit featured several of his race cars including the 1967 AAR Eagle Gurney-Weslake V-12 #36 F1 Grand Prix Car

Dan Gurney Moet & Chandon magnum sprayed from 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans podium at Petersen Automotive Musuem

Dan Gurney memorabilia on display includes the original magnum of Moet & Chandon champagne he sprayed from the podium when he and A.J. Foyt won the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The ground floor of the museum featured a large exhibit on the Bugatti. Most of the cars are from the Mullin Auto Museum (perhaps one day we can organize a group visit there).

1931 Bugatti Type 50 S on display at Petersen Automotive Museum

1931 Bugatti Type 50 S

The 1925 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum

The 1925 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix

Mara suggested that we meet at Tom Bergin’s (the second oldest bar in Los Angeles) down the street from the museum once we were finished touring the museum. I was part of the last of our group that was in the museum, and there was a small remaining group in Tom Bergin’s by the time I arrived that enjoyed beer, Irish coffee and lunch together.

LA F1 Fans at Tom Bergin's after touring the Petersen Automotive Museum

The last of the LA F1 Fans at Tom Bergin’s after touring the Petersen

LA F1 fans have lunch and Irish coffee at Tom Bergin's after a Petersen Museum visit

Yvette, Mara, Mike and Eric enjoying lunch and Tom Bergin’s famous Irish Coffee

LA F1 fans enjoy lunch at Tom Bergin's Irish pub after the Petersen Automotive Museum visit

Anmol and Alen enjoying lunch at Tom Bergin’s

LA F1 fans enjoy Irish coffee at Tom Bergin's after a visit to the Petersen Automotive Musuem

John, Dave and Kiera enjoying Irish coffee at the bar at Tom Bergin’s

In all, the first LA F1 Fans non-race meetup activity was a success. Everyone seemed to enjoy the museum and the opportunity to visit with other Formula 1 fans.

Based on the success of this gathering, Mara already scheduled our next meetup on March 12th to visit the Malibu Cars and Coffee gathering.

The 2017 Formula 1 season opens on March 26th with the Australian Grand Prix. Join the Los Angeles Formula 1 fans meetup group to see where we will gather to watch the race.

South Bay Scenes – December 26, 2016 – January 1, 2017

The chilly temperatures of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day continued in the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Los Angeles. With family visiting, I did not make it to the beach and outdoors as much as I normally do, but I was able to venture outside a few days and take some pictures while out walking the dogs.

Our walk on Thursday night, December 29th started late, and soon we we were walking in the dusk and then the dark along the Strand. But with so many houses displaying Christmas lights, there was something to enjoy. I realized I had not taken any photos of the decorated Manhattan Beach Pier, so I made sure to walk on the pier to capture the pretty lights.

sbs-dec-29-pier-1

Strands of white lights lead the way to the “tree” atop the Round House Aquarium

Manhattan Beach Pier Round House Aquarium Christmas tree lights

The Pier Christmas Tree in lights

My phone could not focus on the lights with the darkness, but I still thought they were pretty even though they are blurred.

Manhattan Beach Pier holiday lights

On the Manhattan Beach pier looking east to downtown Manhattan Beach

Looking from the end of the pier back to Manhattan Beach

The Season’s Greeting sign hanging across Manhattan Beach Boulevard was there as usual.

Season's Greeting lights over Manhattan Beach Boulevard

Looking west on Manhattan Beach Boulevard to the Seasons Greeting sign and the Manhattan Beach Pier

Seasons Greetings in Manhattan Beach with pier in background

On New Year’s Eve, we were determined to take the dogs for a long walk on the Strand. They needed to stretch their legs, and we wanted to tire them out before the inevitable fireworks at midnight that scare them.

It was a cold and windy day. I brought their rain coats in case it started to rain, and not ten minutes after we started walking, the rain came. It was a steady rain, so even though the boys do not enjoy wearing their rain coats, it kept most of the water off of them.

Koa and Lau Lau dogs wearing raincoats in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

Heading down a walk street to the Strand in Manhattan Beach

Wet and rainy Manhattan Beach

It was very gray, but the sun is peeking through on the horizon.

There was hardly anyone out on the Strand. The wind made it feel colder than it was and my hands felt very raw. Luckily I had a good rain jacket that kept me dry.

Manhattan Beach strand and flowers on New Year's Eve

Looking through the flowers to the sun on the horizon

Dogs in raincoats on the Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve 2016

Koa and Lau Lau making the most of the wet, cold and windy weather on New Year’s Eve along the Strand.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's eve with ships in the ocean

Sun on the horizon lights up the ships in the ocean

Snack shop on El Porto Beach in Manhattan Beach on New Year's Eve

This snack shop is normally busy no mater what time of day you walk by.

Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The wet and windy Strand on Manhattan Beach on New Year’s Eve. No one was out!

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

The sun setting with the gray clouds overhead

Manhattan Beach Strand sunset on New Year's Eve 2016

It was sunny on the horizon but not where we were! Look at the light catching the tips of the plant.

Final sunset of 2016 from Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve

Last sunset of 2016

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

The boys sporting their rain coats.

Dogs wearing rain coats on Manhattan Beach Strand on New Year's Eve 2016

Lau Lau in the front and Koa in the back.

The next day, the storm and the clouds moved on, and we were treated to a bright, clear day at the beach. The Strand was very crowded, especially compared to the day before, as everyone was outside enjoying the day and the first day of 2017!

Manhattan Beach on New Year's Day 2017

What a difference compared to the day before!

Manhattan Beach Strand looking north on New Year's Day 2017

You can see on the far right the snack shop is busy compared to the day before! And you can see the mountains near Santa Monica and Malibu

Strolling Along Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo

After sixteen years of living in the South Bay, I finally visited El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane on Christmas night. Every holiday season since 1949, the 1200 block of Acacia Lane in El Segundo, California transforms into a festival of lights.

Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo

Closed off to vehicle traffice, Candy Cane Lane attracts all ages to wonder at the beautiful Christmas light displays.

On my way home from a family Christmas dinner in Santa Clarita, I decided that I should stop off to see the lights. Driving south on the 405 Freeway, I took the 105 Freeway west and exited at the first exit past the end of the Freeway (California Street). Acacia Lane is only a few blocks away. Luckily, I was able to find a parking spot on Acacia Street only a block from Candy Cane Lane, perhaps this was because it was Christmas night. I hear parking can be a challenge during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

House decorated on Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California

A simply decorated house on Candy Cane Lane. I love the greenery around the front door, lit wreath overhead and Christmas tree in the window.

The street is blocked off to vehicle traffic so pedestrians can walk freely and appreciate the lights without worrying about being hit by a car. There were a fair amount of people the night I went, but it was not overwhelming. Many families with children were enjoying the lights.

Candy Cane arch on Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California

The Candy Cane arch at this home was a popular spot for taking pictures

Every house had a different look or theme, but all of them were covered in lights.

Animals in the yard at Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California

Animals in the yard at this home

Simply decorated home with Christmas lights on Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California

One of my favorite light displays – I love the lighted jars and chandeliers hanging from the tree.

The lights might still be on for New Year’s Eve, and some homeowner’s have started taking down their displays. But, the opening date for Candy Cane Lane in 2017 is already announced – December 9, 2017.

It is well worth a visit if you live in the South Bay, or if you are traveling through LAX Airport in December. Candy Cane Lane is a short drive south from LAX!

See more photos from my visit below the details!

Details

What: El Segundo’s Candy Cane Lane, 1200 Block of Acacia Lane, El Segundo, CA

When: Opens nightly, 7:00 – 9:00 PM, starting December 9, 2017

Parking: Street parking in El Segundo (be prepared to walk several blocks on peak nights leading up to Christmas)

Cost: Free

Note: Santa visits on certain nights – be sure to check the schedule on their Facebook page.

Christmas lights decorate a home on Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo, California

One of my favorite decorated houses. I love the wreaths in the upstairs windows

 

Model trains and Christmas lights on a home on El Segundo's Candy Cane Lane

This house had several train tracks running trains on their lawn

ccl-north-pole

This home had a North Pole Airport theme, appropriate since it is only a short distance to LAX Airport

 

 

Pinterest pin Strolling along Candy Cane Lane in El Segundo Christmas Lights

Festival of Trees Sparkle at the Indiana Historical Society

Earlier this month, we were in Indianapolis for Dave to attend a conference, and I had a free day to explore. While driving through downtown Indianapolis, I saw a sign for “Festival of Trees.” Since I love all things Christmas, I was intrigued. A google search led me to the Visit Indy website, which listed many interesting things to do and explore in the city – including the Festival of Trees at the Indiana Historical Society!

Located downtown, close to other museums, the Indiana Historical Society’s annual Festival of Trees featured 72 decorated trees throughout the museum – up from 50 trees in 2015. The exhibit opened November 18th and closes on December 30th. It seems to be an annual exhibit, so if you miss the display this year, be sure to mark it on your calendars for next year!

The trees are spread throughout the museum, which offered me the opportunity to explore the entire building and all of the exhibits (though I admit I was determined to see every single tree!).

Pro tip: Admission to the Indiana Experience is $9 for adults and includes complimentary parking in the lot behind the museum.

After purchasing my admission, I collected a guide to all the trees and their locations, and started my journey.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway sponsored Christmas tree at Indiana Historical Society FOTrees

In the lobby, it was hard not to miss the tree decorated by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The main hall of the museum displayed many of the trees – each decorated or sponsored by a different local organization or company.

Christmas trees in the main hall at the Indiana Historical Society FOTRees in Indianapolis

Walking through the main hall I found the Cole Porter salon – a room dedicated to Indiana native Cole Porter, the famous songwriter and composer. His Tony award for Kiss Me Kate was on display as were other photos documenting his life. A singer was leading the room in singing of Christmas carols and Cole Porter songs, which was especially festive.

Cole Porter's Tony Award for Kiss Me Kate on display at Indiana Historical Society

The Tony Award Cole Porter won for Kiss Me Kate

Paris Christmas tree in Cole Porter room at Indiana Historical Society Festival of Trees in Indianapolis

The “I Love Paris,” themed tree in the Cole Porter room

While I enjoyed the beautiful trees, there were also interesting exhibits to explore. There were interactive exhibits on Ball Mason Jars, Eli Lily and Company, and the founding of the state of Indiana. In each of these exhibits we were ‘transported’ back in time as actors/historians dressed in period dress and answered questions.

Indiana Historical Society Ball mason jar exhibit in Indianapolis

Women works at the Ball mason jar company exhibit

Eli Lily exhibit at Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis

A worker answers questions as we enter Eli Lily’s druggist store

Founding of Indiana exhibit at Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis

These gentleman told us about the founding of Indiana and the writing of the state constitution

These exhibits were all interesting, as were the facts about Indiana’s statehood displayed throughout the museum (and they were especially timely as Indiana was celebrating its Bicentennial on December 11). But, I wanted to be sure to see all the trees, so I kept wandering.

Snowman Christmas Tree at Indiana Historical Society FOTrees

Snowman Tree presented by At Home – the Home Decor Superstore

Book Christmas tree at Indiana Historical Society FOTrees

A tree of books

Zoo Christmas tree at Indiana Historical Society Festival of Trees

I loved this tree decorated by the Zoo

Frozen themed tree at Indiana Historical Society FOTrees

This Frozen themed tree was downstairs near the cafe. It was presented by Total Restoration General Contractors – I appreciated the metal pipes/tubing decorating the tree

The museum’s cafe is one level down from the main entrance, and offers hot and cold food and drinks for purchase. With the cold weather outside, it offers a nice option for a rest and a snack break while exploring the museum.

Pro tip: Check the cafe’s serving hours. I saw a sign saying the cafe closed at 4:00 PM, but when I went down for a snack at 3:30 PM, they were no longer serving food.

Ball Christmas tree by the Ball Brothers Foundation at Indiana Historical Society

A Ball themed tree presented by the Ball Brothers Foundation

It was truly magical wandering the museum and seeing all the differently decorated trees.

Festival of Trees at Indiana Historical Society in Indianapolis

So many trees!

After seeing all of the trees, I voted for my three favorite trees near the entrance. It was hard to pick a favorite as each one was unique.

I saved time at the end of my trip to visit the gift shop, and I am glad I did. There were many items made in Indiana, including a few Indiana Bicentennial Christmas ornaments (I purchased one), t-shirts, books, games and other novelties. I was impressed by the selection!

Pro-tip: Be sure to check the sale rack in the back of the shop. I found a book on a WWII photographer from Indiana for $5!

Indiana Historical Society Festival of Trees

The Enchanted Forest tree presented by Carson Pirie Scott sits next to the ticket desk and right outside the Basile History Market

If you love the Christmas season, and are like me, can not get enough of holiday decorations, the Festival of Trees at the Indiana Historical Society is not to be missed if you are visiting Indianapolis!

South Bay Scenes – Week of December 12 – 18, 2016

I have not posted any South Bay Scenes in a while, and this week’s scenes all come from this past weekend. But the skies were clear and the golden hour light beautiful when we walked the boys late on Saturday afternoon, and I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

Earlier in the week, there was rain and then high winds, so it was not ideal for nice walks along the beach. By Saturday the rain had moved on, and it was a glorious day.

beach volleyball in El Porto beach in Manhattan Beach California

Beach volleyball in El Porto, Manhattan Beach

looking north from the walk section of the Strand in Manhattan Beach California golden hour

Looking north from the walk section of the Strand in Manhattan Beach

Looking south on the Strand towards the Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach California

Looking south from the walk section of the Strand toward the Manhattan Beach Pier

This group was playing beach volleyball while the sun was setting.

Playing beach volleyball in Manhattan Beach California

Playing beach volleyball as the sun sets

Beach Volleyball north of the Manhattan Beach Pier

The Manhattan Beach Pier, a setting sun reflected in the water and beach volleyball

Manhattan Beach Pier with Catalina Island in the distance

The Manhattan Beach Pier with Catalina Island in the distance

The sun getting ready to slip beyond the horizon.

The sun sets in Manhattan Beach California

Even as we walked away from the Strand, I kept taking photos of the pretty sky.

Manhattan Beach walk street as the sun sets

Walk Street Manhattan Beach

walk street in Manhattan Beach with street lights decorated for Christmas

Pretty street lights decorated for the holidays

The weather was beautiful, but it was also cold. When I went out to my car early on Sunday morning, there was frost on my windshield! I do not think that has ever happened here in Redondo Beach. I took a picture of it after I scraped it off so I could see where I was driving!

frost on windshield in Redondo Beach California

Frost on my windshield

It’s time to turn on the heat!

cold temperatures in Redondo Beach California

 

Watching Formula 1 in Los Angeles

Last weekend, we licked our wounds because we weren’t in Austin to watch a beautiful, sunny weekend of Formula 1 racing at Circuit of the Americas. But we found a salve for not being there in person with the next best thing, watching the race live with fellow Formula 1 fans in Los Angeles at Pirelli P Zero World.

LA F1 Fans at Pirelli P Zero World to watch Formula 1

Watching the USGP at Pirelli P Zero World with fellow F1 fans

Thanks to the LA F1 Fans meet-up group Mark Sternberg created a few years ago, each week during the Formula 1 season LA fans gather to watch the races with fellow F1 enthusiasts. We once thought we were the only Formula 1 fans here in the US, since hardly any of our friends knew what we were talking about when we said, “Formula 1.” Now we meet with other followers of the FIA’s premier motorsport series, Formula 1, to watch races at various locations throughout Los Angeles.

Most race weekends, the group watches a tape delayed broadcast of the race due to the international nature of the sport. With races occurring around the world, finding a location to watch a race in the middle of the night, and the willingness to watch in the middle of the night, is a tough proposition.

Usually, the LA F1 group gathers at the Britannia Pub or Cock and Bull Pub in Santa Monica. For the season opener in Australia, Mark arranged for a viewing party at Tom’s Urban in downtown LA. A few weeks ago, the group returned to Tom’s Urban to watch the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka live – starting at 10:00 PM Los Angeles time. The new U.S. Formula 1 team, Haas F1, sponsored the party and offered team hats and other team promotional items that Mark raffled off. Over 100 people gathered to watch.

Last weekend, for the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, the LA F1 Fans group met at Pirelli P Zero World in Century City. Pirelli is the official tire for Formula 1. A catered buffet, wine, and beer were offered (for a fee), and we enjoyed a big screen viewing of the race.

Pirelli P Zero World LA F1 fans viewing party

Pirelli’s P Zero World in Century City, Los Angeles

Lavazza cappuccino at LA F1 fans Pirelli P Zero World for Formula 1

A Lavazza cappuccino and Formula 1 viewing

It was a good, but not great race. Our group really made some noise when Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were battling for fifth position near the end of the race and Alonso and Massa almost took each other out.

LA F1 Fans at Pirelli P Zero World to watch the USGP Formula 1 race

Watching the USGP at Pirelli P Zero World in Los Angeles

During the commercial breaks, the fans chatted with each other and looked at the cars on display and parked outside.

McLaren at Pirelli P Zero World for LA F1 Formula 1

A McLaren 570 GT parked in the back of Pirelli P Zero World

McLaren Pirelli P Zero World LA Formula 1 fans

McLaren 650S in Pirelli P Zero World

McLaren at Pirelli P Zero World for LA F1 fans viewing

There’s a McLaren behind us but we’re all focused on the action on the track!

Williams Martini Racing Pirelli LA F1 fans

Wearing my Williams Martini racing shirt to support Felipe Massa by this beautiful Maserati

This weekend, Formula 1 is in Mexico, offering US west-coast fans an opportunity to watch the race live at a reasonable hour. Join them tomorrow at the Britannia Pub in Santa Monica, and cheer for your favorite team and driver among fellow Formula 1 fans!

What: LA F1 Fans watch the Formula 1 Mexican Grand Prix live

Where: Britannia Pub, 318 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

When: 10:30 am

Details and to RSVP: http://www.meetup.com/LAF1Fans/events/235117340/

While Mercedes AMG Petronas has clinched the constructor’s title for the third straight year, the driver’s championship is still in play. Nico Rosberg could clinch his first F1 world championship if he wins the race and his teammate, reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, finishes tenth or lower. But Lewis is on the pole for the race, with Nico in the second grid position and the Red Bulls breathing down their necks in third and fourth. It should be an exciting race. We hope to see you at the Britannia to watch with us live tomorrow!

Who do you think will win the race? Who do you think will win the driver’s championship?

More photos from the USGP viewing party are here:

McLaren Pirelli P Zero World LA F1 fans viewing

Back of the McLaren 570 GT

McLaren Pirelli LA F1 fans viewing

The McLaren 650 S from the back

 

Save

Save

Formula 1 Fan Fest at the US Grand Prix

We returned to Austin last year to attend the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas (we last visited the race during its inaugural race in 2012).

I flew to Austin on Wednesday, and thanks to following  F1 on NBC Sports on Twitter, I managed to meet Manor F1 Driver Alexander Rossi shortly after landing! I rushed over to the food truck court while he was filming a segment for the show, “Off the Grid.” You can read more about my experience here.

IMG_8932

I met Manor F1 driver Alexander Rossi while he was filming a segment for NBC Sports show, “Off the Grid.”

We were staying with my sister outside of Austin, so drove downtown on Thursday to walk around, visit the Circuit of the Americas Fan Fest and then later that night attend Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash at the Rattle Inn. We parked close to the Rattle Inn, since that would be our last stop of the night. As a huge fan of Topo Chico water, Dave was thrilled to see this Topo Chico mural on the side of the their building and had to take a picture.

Sidebar: Topo Chico water is carbonated mineral water from Mexico. My sister and her husband introduced Dave to it a few years ago, and he is hooked. Topo Chico is only gradually entering the market in Los Angeles, so it has been difficult for us to find. It is everywhere in Austin – you can even order it at bars! Needless to say, Dave was in heaven – we were in Austin to watch Formula 1 AND he could drink as much Topo Chico as he wanted.

 

Austin Rattle Inn Topo Chico

Dave outside the Rattle Inn, thrilled with the Topo Chico mural on the building.

Aryton Senna Exhibit

While walking around the city, we discovered this exhibit on famed Formula 1 multi-World Championship driver Aryton Senna. It was a small exhibit, but featured some of his race suits, helmets and wings from the cars he drove in Formula 1.

Aryton Senna helmet Formula 1 USGP Austin

One of Aryton Senna’s helmets.

 

Aryton Senna Formula 1 Austin USGP McLaren

Senna’s helmet, race suit and gloves, and the steering wheel and wing from his McLaren Formula 1 car.

Aryton Senna display at Formula 1 USGP Austin

The small display of Senna memorabilia

Circuit of the Americas Fan Fest

After enjoying the Senna exhibit, we headed to the COTA Fan Fest on Rainey Street. The Fan Fest is free, and listed an impressive line-up of musical acts including Public Enemy and Trombone Shorty, but since we were there to see the race, we did not stay to watch them. We knew we would be tired walking around the track on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we decided to focus on being well-rested. That being said, the Fan Fest provides entertainment for the serious and casual race fan, and excellent live music.

The skies were threatening rain, but we walked into the enclosed area and explored some of the food and drink booths. Not surprisingly, Topo Chico was there!

Circuit of the Americas Fan Fest USGP Austin Topo Chico

We had to have our picture taken in the Topo Chico photo booth, and we took home a Topo Chico poster (Dave is that obsessed with this water that he wants a poster!).

COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest USGP Austin Topo Chico

All smiles drinking Topo Chico!

There was an Illy coffee truck, which was exciting for me since I love Italian coffee.

Circuit of the Americas Fan Fest USGP Formula 1 Austin Illy Coffee

Free cans of Illy iced coffee drink!

On the main stage, later in the evening the musical acts were set to perform. First though, our main focus was hearing Formula 1 drivers interviewed.

COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest Austin

The main stage at the Fan Fest

I really enjoyed this as we usually only hear the drivers interviewed on TV immediately after qualifying sessions or the race, and this informal interview, with four drivers at the same time, allowed us to hear their personalities more. I was thrilled that my favorite driver Felipe Massa was on the panel – he is quite funny! Joining Felipe was his Williams Martini Racing teammate Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari Reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez, and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg. There were rumors swirling that Gutierrez would be announced as a driver for the new Haas Formula 1 team, and while he was asked about that, Gutierrez artfully dodged that question (and he was indeed announced as one of Haas’ drivers the following week).

COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest Gutierrez Hulkenberg Bottas Massa

Formula 1 drivers Esteban Gutierrez, Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa

I remember Felipe Massa teasing Gutierrez about having a long conversation with Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen (Kimi is notorious for being a man of few words).

Williams Martini Racing Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa at COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest

Williams Martini Racing teammates Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa

Valtterri Bottas and Felipe Massa interview at COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest Austin

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa being interviewed at the COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest 2015

Williams Martini Racing Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa at COTA Fan Fest

Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa answers a question while teammate Valtteri Bottas looks on at the COTA Formula 1 Fan Fest in 2015

The interviews continued, but we wanted to make it back to the Rattle Inn for the Will Buxton event. We quickly jumped in an Uber (sadly ride-sharing car services Uber and Lyft are no longer allowed in Austin), and made it over to the Rattle Inn just in time to see…

Buxton's Big Time Bash at Rattle Inn Austin with Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa

Blurry photo of Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa on stage at the Rattle Inn with F1 on NBC’s Will Buxton

Esteban Gutierrez and Felipe Massa on stage with the evening’s host, NBC Sports’ Will Buxton!

There was a suggested donation to join the party as Will and organizer Austin Grand Prix were raising money for Austin’s Meals on Wheels and the Justin Wilson Children’s Fund. The room was packed with race fans.

After Gutierrez and Massa left the stage, we were treated to hearing Alexander Rossi. Rossi, an American driver, had only recently been named a driver for the Manor Racing Team for the last half of the season. As the first American Formula 1 driver in several years, everyone was thrilled to watch him race in Austin.

Manor Formula 1 Driver Alexander Rossi with F1 on NBC Sports reporter Will Buxton Austin Rattle Inn

Manor F1 driver Alexander Rossi on stage with Will Buxton

Some of the loudest cheers that night were for the F1 on NBC Sports television team of Leigh Diffey, Steve Matchett and David Hobbs.

F1 on NBC Sports Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Leigh Diffey at the Rattle Inn, Austin.

F1 on NBC on-air talent Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Leigh Diffey on stage at Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash at the Rattle Inn in Austin, 2015.

F1 on NBC Sports Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Leigh Diffey at Rattle Inn in Austin

A packed house to hear and see F1 on NBC Sports’ Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Leigh Diffey live at the Rattle Inn in Austin.

Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Leigh Diffey from F1 on NBC Sports

Throughout the evening, Will Buxton and organizer Austin Grand Prix raffled off prizes from some of the Formula 1 teams. Sadly, we did not win anything.

After the official program, all the fans stayed to mingle, and we managed to meet both Leigh Diffey and Steve Matchett. David Hobbs proved to be elusive!

F1 on NBC Sports' Leigh Diffey and me at the Rattle Inn in Austin

Meeting Leigh Diffey at the Rattle Inn

F1 on NBC Sports' Steve Matchett with me and Dave at the Rattle Inn in Austin

Dave and I with Steve Matchett at Buxton’s Big Time Bash at the Rattle Inn

After mingling with other fans, we were looking for a bite to eat before heading home. Luckily for us, Austin has many options for getting your fill of Tex-Mex, and the Violet Taco food truck was right next door. We ordered a few, and a Topo Chico of course, and they were really good! I would recommend stopping here the next time you are in Austin.

Topo Chico and tacos from the Violet Taco food truck in Austin

Tacos and Topo Chico from the Violet Taco

After filling up on tacos, we headed back to my sister’s to rest up for the official events at the track starting on Friday.

This year, Austin Grand Prix announced that they will be taking a break from organizing the Buxton Bash, but they are already planning for an event next year. You can read a complete re-cap of the 2015 event, with a listing of the prizes donated by drivers and teams here.

There is a Fan Fest in downtown Austin again this year on Friday and Saturday nights, and it’s a great opportunity to hear live music and enjoy Austin nightlife. There are also car displays, photos and exhibits, and it is FREE! If you’re staying downtown, you don’t have to worry about driving to and from the track like we did, leaving you more time to enjoy the fun!

Are you attending the USGP in Austin this year? If so, let me know what your plans are while you’re in town. We will be watching the race from California this year.

 

“The Race at the Base” – Fun at the Coronado Speed Festival

Coronado Speed Festival the Race at the Base

On Sunday we drove down to San Diego and Coronado Island for the 19th Annual Coronado Speed Festival. Hosted by Naval Base Coronado on Naval Air Station North Island, the “Race at the Base” features a car corral, ten different car class races on an active runway, and the opportunity to tour the Naval base and ships and explore some of the aircraft on display.

We left Riverside around 7:30 AM (after a friend’s wedding the night before) and arrived shortly before 9:00 AM. Traffic was light so we were able to drive through Coronado Island onto the base and park with no waiting. After parking, we walked to security screening, much like at an airport, except that no large bags or backpacks were allowed. I was turned around with my small backpack as it was deemed too large. Luckily I brought my fanny pack along so I stuffed that with my wallet, cell phone, extra battery and ear plugs, and I hand carried a can of spray sunscreen. The marine layer was still overhead when we arrived, but we knew it would burn off and we would need sun protection.

The Coronado Speed Festival runs all day Saturday and Sunday and is part of Fleet Week San Diego. Tickets for each day were $25 for adults, but we had a coupon from Reader City for $15 each (Active duty military personnel are admitted free and children under 12 are free; a weekend pass is $35). While we missed some of the early races, each group of cars raced in the afternoon as well, and we were able to watch all the different groups race later in the day.

The Paddock

We walked around the paddock where each car was getting race prepped. There was a wide variety of cars to enjoy; I always enjoy the older cars, especially the pre-war racers.

Morgan automobile at Coronado Speed Festival in San Diego for Vintage car racing

A beautiful Morgan automobile.

A vintage Porsche at Coronado Speed Festival

A vintage Porsche

1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang at Coronado Speed Festival

The 1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang. When we peaked inside the back, there was gravel all over the car floor, picked up from the track.

1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang at Coronado Speed Festival

The back of the1991 IMSA GTO Roush Mustang exposed.

Paddock at Coronado Speed Festival

Three cars in the paddock.

Comedian, podcaster, documentary filmmaker and vintage car racer Adam Carolla, who was racing in Group 8 with his Bob Sharp Datsun 610, posed for a picture with us. He said that the first two races on Saturday seemed to go well, but there was something not right with the car, and they were not sure if they had it fixed. He advised that if we saw his car moving slowly on the track, it was the car and not the driver. Sadly when we watched his group race, we knew that his car problems continued, and he did not participate in the afternoon race for his group.

Adam Carolla at the Coronado Speed Festival

Dave and I chatted with Adam Carolla before his group raced.

Many of the cars had signs that described their provenance and race history.

1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-AM / IMSA GTO in the paddock at Coronado Speed Festival

1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Trans-AM / IMSA GTO – this car would be in a heated battle for first place in the last race of the day.

1952 Allard K2 at Coronado Speed Festival paddock

The 1952 Allard K2

Watching the Races

We walked over to one of two spectator stands, and when we climbed to the top, we could peer over and see the cars lining up in advance of each race. It was fun to watch the cars drive in and be directed to their place in the grid.

Group 8 cars on the race grid at the Coronado Speed Festival for vintage car racing

Group 8 cars – mass produced cars and sedans built prior to 1973 – line up on the race grid.

Sportscar Vintage Racing Association group 8 cars on the grid at Coronado Speed Festival

Looking down on the Group 8 grid from the stands. In the distance on the left is the short course for the Jaguar test drives.

Sportscar Vintage Racing Association Group 10 cars on the grid at Coronado Speed Festival

Group 10 – NASCAR Cup and Nationwide Stock Cars – line up on the grid

Pre-war race cars at Coronado Speed Festival

The Pre-War race cars line up in the grid as the NASCAR group exits the track

pre-war vintage race cars at Coronado Speed Festival

The pre-war race cars lined up in the grid (the San Diego skyline is in the back on the right)

From this perch we could see almost all of the 1.7 mile race track. Facing north, sailboats sailed by on San Diego bay and flights departed from the airport as the marine layer hugged San Diego in the morning.

Sportcar Vintage Racing Association grid at Coronado Speed Festival

Group 9 – “Wings & Slicks” open-wheel race cars as raced from 1973 – 2008 – on the grid with San Diego Bay and San Diego to the north in the background.

Coronado speed festival sportscar vintage racing association

Heading from the grid

Coronado Speed Festival Sportscar Vintage Racing Association

Heading from the grid for Group 7

Other Activities at the Base

Unfortunately while we were watching groups 8 and 10 race, we missed the pit crew challenge. Active duty military personnel competed in a pit crew time trial with NASCAR cars and equipment.

We were treated to some of the Naval Seahawk helicopters flying over the racetrack while we were in the stands, and we also saw some F-18s take off (they were a bit too fast to take a picture).

Naval seahawk helicopters at Coronado Speed Festival

Naval Seakhawk helicopters flew over the track during the races

During the noon lunch break, I was fortunate to take a selfie with actor Gary Sinise. Gary and his Lt. Dan Band performed on Saturday at the fest. He was the Grand Marshall for the races. I thanked him for all that he does to support our military with the Gary Sinise Foundation.

Coronado Speed Festival actor Gary Sinise

Meeting Actor and Coronado Speed Festival Grand Marshall Gary Sinise (note my hand-carried can of sunscreen!)

I realized too late that while the racing paused for a lunch time breaks that hot laps were offered – spectators were being driven around as passengers in some of the cars. By the time I realized this and got in line, it was too late. Something I definitely would like to do next year!

After grabbing lunch, we stood in line to test drive Jaguars. Jaguar is a sponsor of the event and had professional drivers there to tell us about their vehicles. We had the option of either being driven around the short course on the field or driving the cars ourselves. The line to test drive the Jaguars was long, not surprising, and I wish we stood in line for the test drive when we first arrived – the line was shorter and the sun was still hiding behind the marine layer. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the drive and accelerating these beautiful vehicles on the track. I first drove the XE and then after getting a feel for the track switched to the F-type, with much more horse power and sportier styling. Both beautiful cars, and I liked their power!

The groups all raced again in the afternoon, and while we planned to leave early, we ended up staying to watch my favorite group, the pre-war cars. Since there was only one race after that, we decided to remain for that as well, Group 10b, and I’m glad we did. The 1998 Ford/Penske Taurus Stock Car and 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Winston Cup traded places the entire race, and as we could see all of the track from near the start/finish line, it was fun to watch them battle on track for position with one car being better in the turns while another caught up on the straights. All of the cars that raced by group are listed on the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association website, as are the results from each of the qualifying sessions (from Saturday) and races.

Pre-war cars race for the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association at Coronado Speed Festival

Pre-war cars race at Coronado Speed Festival

Pre-war cars race Sportscar Vintage Racing Association at Coronado Speed Festival

The Pre-War race featured this National with two drivers.

The last race of the day proved to be quite exciting.

csw-mustang-race-closecsw-mustang-racecsw-snapon-race

These two cars traded positions the entire race. Eventually the white car barely edged out the black car at the finish line.

Coronado Speed Festival Sportscar Vintage Racing Association

This Ford/Penske Taurus Stock car and Oldsmobile Cutlass Winston fought for first place the entire race.

Coronado Speed Festival Race at the Base Vintage Car racing

In this photo, the Oldsmobile is in the lead.

Learning About Naval Helicopters

Once the racing concluded, we walked out past the helicopters that lined the entrance to the event. The pilots allowed us to peak inside and tell us about their aircraft. We saw MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters with different configurations depending on the mission of each. It was amazing to see these machines up close, and even more amazing that they are able to leave the ground and fly.

MH-60 Seahawk Naval Helicopters at Naval Base Coronado

MH-60 Seahawk Helicopters parked at Naval Air Station North Island

Naval seahawk helicopters parked at Naval Base Coronado

MH-60 Seahawk Helicopters parked at Naval Air Station North Island

cockpit of naval helicopter MH-60 Seahawk on Naval Base Coronado during Fleet Week San Diego

The cockpit of one of the MH-60 Seahawks on display

Naval helicopter at Naval Base Coronado during Fleet Week San Diego

MH-60 Seahawk Naval Helicopter on display for the Coronado Speed Festival

While we didn’t beat the traffic leaving the base, the delays were not onerous as we sat in some traffic on Coronado Island heading to the Coronado Bay Bridge.

Overall, it was a fun day. While there are a good number of cars to see, there weren’t so many that it was exhausting. We were able to walk up and down each of the paddock lanes a few times each and see everything. Because we were only there on the one day though, we didn’t allow time for touring of the ships that were open or for touring the base.

The Race at the Base is a fun weekend event, something the entire family can enjoy. Where else can you see classic cars racing on a live naval runway with the beautiful waters of San Diego Bay surrounding you  and the skyline of San Diego to the east?

San Diego as seen from Coronado Speed Festival

View of downtown San Diego from Naval Air Station North Island and the Coronado Speed Festival

For more information on the other activities during Fleet Week San Diego, visit their website.

Save

Save

Remembering at the 9/11 Memorial

Today, September 11, 2016, marks fifteen years since the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Today, we remember all those innocent people who lost their lives on that day.

I lived in New York City for three years, but at the time of the attacks, I was living in California. My uncle and I visited Ground Zero in the months after the attacks when it was unrecognizable. It is amazing to see the transformation of this part of Manhattan.

I was fortunate to visit the 9/11 Memorial twice – in November, 2014, and then recently a few weeks ago in August. I found the Memorial site to be beautiful, haunting, moving.

Here are some images of the site.

Photos from my visit in November, 2014.

wtc-nov-2

Enter a caption

wtc-nov-5

I heard that a white rose is placed at the name of each victim on their birth day.

I heard that a white rose is placed at the name of each victim on their birth day.

wtc-nov-4

wtc-nov-3

From my visit a few weeks ago.

wtc-aug

One World Trade Center is the building behind the memorial on the left.

wtc-aug-2

Looking towards the new WTC Transit Hub, otherwise known as Oculus.

While visiting the 9/11 Memorial with my parents and a family friend, my dad told us about the sons of one of his former bosses, from many years ago. They both worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and died in the attacks. We searched for their names on one of the information kiosks and found their place on the memorial.

 

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center in New York City

We ran our hands over their names. We paused. We reflected. We prayed. We cried. We remembered that horrible day. We will never forget.

Save