View from Turn 12 Grandstands
View of the front straight away
Since I was there for the race, I will start off by talking about the GP and then about all the fun things to see and do in Austin and, most importantly, the amazing food!
I’m not sure how many of you are race fans (but please comment below if you are!) so I will explain a little about F1 and what a race weekend is all about.
Practice Session - View from Turn 12 Grandstands
Formula One, also known as F1, is a racing championship that is generally regarded as the highest class of racing in the world. Formula 1 cars looks something like an Indy car, they are single seaters with an open wheel design. The F1 season consists of numerous Grand Prixs around the world, primarily in Europe, and several teams such as Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren. F1 cars are the fastest racing cars in the world with speeds up to 220 miles per hour. They race on road courses which means there are multiple turns, straight aways, hairpins and chicanes; never any ovals.
Drivers parade before the race. My man, Alonso!
Grassy area and lake at the front entrance and vendors
View from Grandstands at Turn 15
This was my first time to the Circuit of the Americans (COTA) and I must say that I was very impressed. I’ve been to several tracks around the world and each one is a bit little different. Some are better than others for various reasons but COTA is actually a great track with few flaws. The track itself is easy to get to, there is ample parking, or you can take the shuttle from downtown Austin. Although many people complained that the shuttle bus drop off area was too far away from the main entrance, about half a mile.
Straight away on the left, looking up to Turn 1
The track itself is really well designed for the fans. There are lots of elevation changes and not many obstructions so you can see a good portion of the track from any vantage point. Some tracks have poor visibility and you can only see one section of track at a time, which is no fun during a race. There were also plenty of bathrooms, food vendors, drink stations, and entertainment. It may sound strange, but some tracks only offer a few food options and one type of beer. It’s nice to have the option of a burger, tamale, bbq, or grilled cheese. Or beer, or wine, or mixed drink. COTA even has a signature cocktail, The COTA Flame!
You get to keep the glass!
Although seating for lunch was a tad limited there was a huge grassy area where you could sit and eat and even play some corn hole!
Now the not so awesome stuff about the track. Since I am not a VIP =) I thought there were too many VIP areas. I just felt bad about not being able to visit certain buildings and areas of the track. But believe me, if I were a VIP, I would love it!
But seriously, the main thing that bothered me was that no outside food or beverages were permitted. This isn’t that unusual but it would be certainly be nice for the fans. Tickets are already so expensive, it would nice to save a little money by bringing lunch, snacks and drinks. Burgers and fries for 4 of us was almost $80! Now multiple that over 3 days, add a couple beers and several bottles of water and you’re looking at a lot of money! And you know you’re going to want to get an event shirt too! It adds up fast!
So the track is awesome and the food is expensive, but what else can you expect from a race weekend? The truth is, it can be a grueling time. You are on your feet most of the day, it’s really hot (or really cold), you’re carrying a back pack with sunscreen, camera, and extra clothes (or layers you’ve removed), your butt hurts from sitting in the grand stands, you ears chaff from the ear plugs, and your filthy, like blowing brown snot from the dirt and dust filthy. Sounds awesome, right?! Well it is!
In addition to the race, the city where the is race is being held usually turns into a huge party! Downtown Austin put on FanFest which featured live music, food, vendors, and really cool car exhibits.
I especially had a great time because I got to meet some very special people and win an amazing prize!
Steve Matchett, me, and David Hobbs
If that wasn’t enough, I won an amazing raffle prize! A signed Felipe Massa Team Ferrari shirt!
High fiving someone after I won the shirt =) I'm really, really excited!
Even if you don’t want to spend the time and money attending an F1 race, at least give it a shot and watch a race on TV....just please don’t become a Vettel fan…I really don’t care for him =)
Update: I gave in and tried on my Felipe shirt! For those of you who weren't there that night, there was A LOT of teasing going on because the shirt was size S. Well...one of us should be embarrassed because it kinda fit =)