The Greatest Weekend. Ever.

Last weekend my Dad joined me for the most exhausting and exciting 72 hours of my life. Formula One decided to pay Austin, Texas a visit this year for the 19th round of the 2012 World Championships. Ho. Lee. S***.

The United States Grand Prix went off without a hitch. The racing was excellent, the venue perfect, and the crowd was massively enthusiastic! There were three “holy s*** this is real” moments for me: The first was walking out onto the grass at Turn One, and gazing down at Americas new home for motor sports. The second was the first time a car rolled out onto the track for Practice 1, and the third was certainly when the lights went out and all 24 cars came charging up the big hill.

Circuit of the Americas is simply impressive. The elevation change is not easily seen on TV, but is certainly felt in your legs as you roam the General Admission grass berms. There are many excellent areas where you can see a large amount of the track. One of my favorite spots had to have been in front of the Turn 9 stands. Here, you can see the cars round T6 and 7, vanish behind a hill, and reappear over the crest of T8 while charging straight for you. In the blink of an eye they cut left over a blind apex T9 and blast down to 11 through a slingshot T10. At this particular location you are very close to the track and the cars are opening the throttle, so hearing protection came in handy. By far the loudest spot I found on track was the beginning of the turn 16-18 sweeper.

Here is a breakdown of the areas we visited during the practice sessions:

Turn 1:  From here you can see the front straight and starting grid, as well as the Pit Building/Team Garages. The apex of T1 is right in front of you, and you can see cars accelerate out before disappearing down into T2. Across the track you can see all of T16-19, and a majority of the short run up to the final T20. The cars will disappear behind the Pit Building for a moment before you can see them come through T20 and back up the straight.

Starting Grid chaos

Starting Grid chaos

Turn 2: This is a neat perspective from General Admission, as the apex of Turn one is above you and flat… you can’t see the cars until they begin their dive down to T2. I imagine it would be a different story from the T2 stands. Make no mistake, the change is elevation from the apex of T1 down to T2 is quite significant.

Turn 3 Stands: We had seats in the T3 stands, and were lucky to be close enough and high enough to see over the pedestrian bridge. From here you could see the cars crest T1 before dive bombing 2 and blasting up the straight under the bridge to T3. Once crossing under the bridge, you can watch them scream through the esses and disappear around T5. Across the track you could see a small part of the 13-14-15 “stadium” section, and a majority of the 16-18 sweeper. Unfortunately, track-side suites block the view of T12.

DSC_6195 copy

S Turns

Turn 8: Here you see the cars appear from behind the T5 stands and accelerate through 6 and 7 before going uphill to 8. Not too much to see across the track.

Turn 9: If you walk up the hill from 8 and post up in front of the T9 stands, you can see the cars “pop up” from the crest of 8 and snake through the chicane created by T9. T9 is a blind apex… so when the cars crest it you can watch them “sink” back into the ground and disappear on their run down to 11. This was an EXCELLENT place to take pictures due to the perfect placement of a service entrance to the track. Stick your lens through the chain link, and you can shoot without a the catch fence in your way.

Sat_P3 (50)

After cresting T9

Turn 10: This is technically still in front of the T9 bleachers, but if you walk up the hill en-route to Turn 11, you can see the fast left hand kink that creates T10. You are close to the track here, and the cars are wide open throttle so this area is LOUD. Turn 10 must be an absolute riot to drive in an F1 car.

Turn 11: The general admission area is a large berm lawn that creates a crescent “bowl” around the hairpin T11. You can see the cars emerge from T9 and sweep through 10 on their charge down towards you at 11. Lot’s of locking up the wheels in this braking zone. The cars will be moving slow here, and since you can get higher than the fence line this is a great spot for photos. Once around the apex, it is a all out blast down the straight to T12, which you can see off in the distance. You can also see the significant up and down elevation of the straight.

Looking at T10 from T11

Looking at T10 from T11

Turn 16: There is a small lawn at the entrance of 16 that ends at the observation tower in front of 17. It is pretty much flat out and very LOUD. Not a great place for pictures unless you have a quick shutter and can pan like a pro. This is however a great place to be to witness the awesomeness of a F1 car!

Turn 17-19: The grass berm starts at turn 18, but you can see 17 clearly there. Cars will sweep around you from left to right a full 90 degrees while blasting down to 19. The lawn is LONG so you can walk all the way down to 19. This is where a lot of drivers struggled to stay on track. Many would venture into the T19 run off. From in front of 19 you can see up to 20.

As far as the overall experience is concerned… instead of trying to hopelessly explain emotions that are un-explainable, I’ll just share the pictures:

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~ by ddmotorsports on December 10, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Greatest Weekend. Ever.”

  1. That WAS an awsome weekend son. I am so pleased that I began to share your enthusiasm of Formula 1 racing as my long time interest in NASCAR has been waning over the past few years. F 1 is so much more interesting and exciting. Your descriptions of the turns are spot on and and should be useful to someone planning to go to next years race. I’ll add that if I had it to do all over again (next year) i’d pay the $35 to go up in the tower.

  2. Great story Dale and I share your thoughts about all the turns as well. Job well done by CoTA and all the Friends of Formula One Austin page for keeping up to date on the track build. Can’t wait for next years race but I’ll be attending as much of the new series coming to CoTA first.

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