Beyond The Need for Speed – A Close Encounter At the Centre of Action

Reem H

2 years ago

Since the beginning of time, people have come together to enjoy friendly competition, cheering on and celebrating the victories of their favourite teams and athletes. The concept of the colosseum was born; a centre of action where people came together to partake in it all. These spaces filled with the deafening roars of fans of the sport and lovers of the sheer euphoria of a vivacious crowd — ensuring a little something for everyone.
A modern day colosseum in its own right, the Yas Marina Circuit at Yas Island is perpetually filled with cheers of excitement—and once a year, with the sounds of the V6, V8, and other awe-inspiring engines that echo from the heart of Abu Dhabi, to the rest of the world.
This international venue, home to one of the world’s largest car racing competitions – the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – has become a well-renowned destination on a local, regional and global scale.
For this edition of Yas Times, we raced down to Yas Marina Circuit to meet with Joanna Bates, their very own Events Manager, to find out how it’s all done. We asked her to run us through the inner workings of the Circuit, starting with the most obvious of questions: “How do you manage large-scale international events like F1?” She confirmed – it takes an army! In her role, Joanna manages a team that is responsible for food and beverage circuit-wide, as well as dedicated personnel for automotive track events, corporate business events and community events.  She is always on the fast-track between managing current or upcoming events, to creating new concepts for products and entertainment functions.

With one of the busiest calendars year-round, and the daunting task of being part of the team that manages a top international event, knowing that at least once a year, the whole world is watching, Joanna says the secret to success is being organised. A self-dubbed queen of checklists, Joana believes that no task is too big if proper planning and prioritization are always in place.

Besides the annual headline event, Yas Marina Circuit attracts visitors year-round. Asked about the most popular attractions, Joanna shared, “Our driving and passenger experiences are a must, even for people who aren’t particularly interested in cars and racing, they are undeniably fun and a complete thrill.” She went on to make an expert recommendation, “Our new Jaguar F-Type experience is fantastic for guests who don’t want to concentrate on changing gears during their experience. You can get on track and just focus on making the turns at speed.”

Over the years, the Yas Marina Circuit left its mark as a place where the community comes together to get active. Speaking about the popular Active Life by Daman events, she said: “It’s a fantastic community initiative that encourages physical activity and something the Circuit is very proud to have developed. The community events started out as a group of cycling enthusiasts using the track when it was free on Tuesday evenings. Now, it operates every Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday night and welcomes over 200,000 guests per year!”

Often known for dynamic events that get your heart racing, the thrill is not just reserved for Yas Marina Circuit visitors, but seems to be the modus operandi for its resident team as well. “What is so interesting about working for the Circuit is the versatility in the type of events we can accommodate. In addition to the high profile racing events, the circuit has one of the largest conference facilities in Abu Dhabi, and a huge number of incredible outdoor event spaces that we get to be creative with. It’s challenging and dynamic to be working on different types of events each week. I love seeing a creative concept come to life.” She went on to add, “I am truly blessed to work with such a talented team that delivers an annual event of the F1 calibre, and to work year round at the circuit. We have a really solid team of event professionals supported by an excellent operations crew who band together to get last minute client requests across the line, or juggle multiple bookings at the same time.”

The diverse team make Yas Marina Circuit a truly versatile place, Joanna explained. “People don’t typically associate motorsports venues with creative event management. Yas Marina Circuit has a full event services in-house team and often pitches for creatively conceptualized, turn-key event management solutions for automotive track events, gala dinners and business functions.”

Continually buzzing with life, the Yas Marina Circuit team are always thinking about how to make experiences more memorable for their visitors, and to offer those who use their venue, something truly unique. “This year we are working really hard at improving our corporate hospitality offering for F1. We are focused on premium food and beverages, entertainment as well as décor concepts that create the perfect atmosphere for corporate entertaining. Watch this space!”

Edging closer to the finish line, we asked Joanna about her favorite Yas Moment, and – to no surprise of ours – she had plenty. “First off, I think each year’s F1 tops the last, there is something incredible about watching the fireworks go up at the end of each event, and taking a moment to appreciate the many hours that went into pulling the entire spectacle off.”

Divulging her favourite things to do on Yas Island, she stated, “I spend most of my summer at Yas Waterwold with my two children who are huge fans. We also spend a lot of time at Yas Marina, going to the many pop-up markets it hosts.”

Revealing her knack for Lebanese cuisine, it is common to catch her on the odd evening out, feasting on the delicious and hearty creations at Rozanah.

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