Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Austin City Limits: Formula 1 Friday, Part I

Friday tickets, includes the Imagine Dragons concert.
Kia Niro rental car. I took the picture for the license plate
as much as the tickets, so that we could remember which
Kia rental was ours in the huge parking lots!

If you are both a music fan and a Formula 1 fan, you might be familiar with the public TV live music show Austin City Limits. Believe it or not, ACL really is filmed in Austin. Speaking of Austin City Limits, that's about where we are at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) racetrack, southeast of Austin, out here past the airport. The track opened in 2012, and as the 10th different home of F1 racing in the US, it's the first of those tracks built specifically for F1. They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and from our first look around here, they're correct!
Souvenir stands, lots of them, and they're all over the place.
The AMG Petronas Mercedes Benz stand pictured here.
Their two drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Lewis became a 6 time world champ at the end of this race,
and Bottas took the race win, so they had a great weekend!

Some other places F1 has raced in the US include the Indianapolis motor speedway (which was in the news Monday for having been purchased by Roger Penske), downtown races in Long Beach CA, Phoenix AZ, Detroit MI,  Dallas TX, a parking lot in Las Vegas, and other courses in Watkins Glen NY, and Riverside CA. Our NMS experience is limited in driving those tracks, but we're happy to report that we have driven at Watkins Glen, and both  marched and run on the Indy oval in non-automobile modes in a half marathon and in a marching band. Hey, lapping at Indy is fun even on two feet...in the rain...with a trumpet!
Enthusiastic fans? Check! Ferrari fan with race car hat!

Here in Texas, the advantage of having built a new facility is seen with both the layout of the track for the drivers, but also the way it can absorb say 100,000 people for a race. COTA Those people all need a place to sit (grandstands, luxury boxes, general admission grassy hill sides), food (oh boy do they have concession stands, from BBQ to fancy stuff), restrooms (always need more), and believe it or not, more entertainment (concerts, entertainers, displays, souvenir stands, etc). Have you ever been to a State Fair? Well, it's kind of like that, tons of people, lots of stuff to see and do, and that's on top of those fast cars out on track! Now that I think about it, I think COTA has everything the State Fair has except for the dairy exhibit life size cow made out of butter.
Looking across the 360 Amphitheater seating (home of concerts) to the
Military Outpost for veterans, which was a great place to hang out, and watch
the action on track from turn 18-19, plus free water, soda, and coffee. 

We used Friday to walk around a lot of the entire track, not all of it, but a lot, say from turn 12 to 20, then turn 1-10. We watched the first practice session from the Outpost, and then as we walked around the track. The elevation change up hill from the start to turn 1 was way bigger than it looks on TV or on my racing video game! That must be an awesome experience to drive it on track too.
From the Military Outpost, looking across the track to turn 1 grandstands.
Drivers would be going up the hill on the far right, and back down
the hill on the left coming towards us. 
Hey, a big theater! Maybe Kool and the Gang will play here right after the race!
Practice 1, this car just went around turn 19 and is going away
from us to the final corner. On the left of the track is the pit
entrance. We're walking around the track the way the
cars are going.
One of the Haas cars is entering the pit road. 

The COTA tower. They wanted 30 bucks to go to the top, so
we stayed on the ground! You can see the tower from all over the
track and from miles away, so it's probably a good landmark to have.

From the hill at turn 1, looking back to the main scoreboard,
and the building that has the team garages, pits, and I'm sure
plenty of luxury suites for the teams. 

Looking back to the start/finish line. It's a big hill! There is 
a car under the Emirates sign across the track too.
From the other side of turn 1, Vettel in the #5 Ferrari going downhill to turn 2

Ferrari passing a Red Bull
Anyway, it was fun to walk around and get different views of the track. Friday was the least busy day, fewer spectators at the track. This was probably normal, but also likely due to the polar vortex bringing cold temps to Texas. It was downright chilly there in the morning, although it warmed up in the afternoon and the rest of the weekend wasn't so cold. I totally missed my chance to wear my $8 Ferrari winter coat that I'd found at a used clothing store. Oh well. First practice ended at 1230pm, so we sat down and had some really awesome local tacos! This was the best food we found at the track, so our weekend was off to a great start, and it would get even better. Stay tuned for more!                                       

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