F1 fans’ guide to the 2012 United States Grand Prix

2012 United States Grand Prix

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There’s a palpable sense of excitement over the return of the USA to the F1 calendar. Several F1 Fanatic readers are making the trip to the Circuit of the Americas to watch the first race at the track.

Here’s what they have to say about the first United States Grand Prix in five years.

Places to stay

If you’re in need of last-minute accommodation Les, who’s been living in Austin for 40 years, has some suggestions:

There is an RV [motorhome] park on site at COTA though I have not seen anything posted about its availability. If you are in a self-contained RV, there might be neighbours to the venue who would allow you to pay to park on their farm/ranch land for the week.

There is a lot of this type of land near the venue. The ‘town’ where COTA is located is named Elroy. Nothing in the way of accommodations at this time. Bubba’s Wild Grille is the most known eatery.

Golf resorts in the area that I am guessing may have heliport service could be an option. The heliports will make some locations that seem far away in road traffic very convenient by helicopter. Lakeway (west of Austin) Barton Creek (west of Austin), Hyatt Regency at The Lost Pines (near COTA in Bastrop area).

Don’t forget to look for Bed and Breakfasts or hunting/fishing camps as well.
Les (@txswimdad)


Some readers have expressed concerns over the price of attending the race and associated costs, and are doing what they can to save money:

Looking forward to this! I’m at turn 12, row 15. Luckily my ex-boss lives in Austin so staying with him – far better than paying the extortionate hotel prices! Also all the other things they seem to keep trying to overcharge for, like the parking.
Rachel Clarke (@rachelc)

I started to look for hotels way back in January, and even then they were going for $300 at least for even the basic two-star hotels. […]

I guess the prices are not too different from the Montreal race? I remember paying around $450-$500 for a three-day pass at grandstand 11 last year in Montreal. Here the non-premium grandstands run up to a similar price, and higher up for the premium ones.

The pricing structure for grandstand seats runs counter to that seen at other circuits:

I find it strange that they are charging more for tickets higher up the grandstand. I would think that it would be better to sit closer to the cars versus farther away. The only other F1 race I’ve attended was in Silverstone. We sat in the very top row of the bleachers. The wind blew at our backs the entire time and we were very cold. The more expensive seats were closer to the track in the same bleachers. I think they were probably warmer as well because the people behind them blocked the wind.

What am I missing with the Circuit of the America’s pricing? Is it worth it to pay extra to sit up higher and get a slightly better long distance view of the track? I’m not sure that it is.
Mitch Lewis (@mitchmann)

And Jason advises that if you’ve already bought a ticket and want to trade up, there may be options available to you:

When they put a second set of stands near turn 12, they made a big deal of how they were allowing general admission ticket holders to upgrade their purchases. They made it sound like they had made a special exception for those with General Admission, but when I called to do make the upgrade it was clear that anyone at any time can upgrade their tickets if they wish. Only you can never downgrade your ticket.

I don’t have or remember the number, but you should be able to call the ticket folks and get an upgrade to turn one; they were incredibly helpful, patient, and knowledgeable when I upgraded my general admission to turn 12.
Jason (@jmwalley)

What you can – and can’t – take in

There was a minor furore last month when the Circuit of the Americas published a list of what couldn’t be taken into the circuit. They later clarified that cameras with detachable lenses are allowed but other items are restricted:

This is pretty much par for the course at sporting events here in the US, unfortunately. Bag searches, metal detectors, the whole nine yards. (The rule about the camera lens sizes, though ? that’s a new one for me.)

It was an eye-opening experience to go to the British GP this year. All you had to do to get in was show your ticket to the polite teenaged boy at the gate. I had been fully prepared for a security checkpoint of some kind. It was great. Viva Silverstone!

@Codesurge has seen this type of thing before:

I’m pretty sure that they won’t have the time to go dig through each and every bag at the circuit gates. If anything, they’ll be on the lookout for weapons and other dangerous items – if you stash food/drinks at the bottom of a bag and then pile on magazines/raincoats/caps/cameras/other bulky stuff, I don’t think they’d bother forcing you to remove the offending food.

It’s worked for me at Sepang and Singapore and I’m planning to do the same in Austin.

F1 Fanatics going to the 2012 United States Grand Prix

Here are some of the F1 Fanatic readers who’ve said they’re going to this year’s race. Have a great time everyone and remember to share your images and videos with us when you get back!

@Joac21, Rich (@speediea), Stephen Jones (@aus_steve), @US-Brian, Rachel Clarke (@rachelc), @Doodie111, @Alzarius, David Noble (@newkoba), Jason (@jmwalley), @Codesurge

First Grand Prix outside of Australia, so pretty pumped! Can’t wait to meet up with some fellow F1 Fanatics.
Stephen Jones (@aus_steve)

Just received my tickets for the Circuit of the Americas race, woohoo!
Rich (@speediea)

You can tell that F1 is all glamour. The MOTO GP tickets i got earlier this year for Indy were all flimsy. These are solid. At least the Premium ones.

If you’re heading to the race join in the discussion in the forum:

And remember to share your pictures and video here:

Going to a Grand Prix on F1 Fanatic is sponsored by Grandstand Motor Sports

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    Keith Collantine
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    15 comments on “F1 fans’ guide to the 2012 United States Grand Prix”

    1. Bubba’s Wild Grille is the most known eatery.

      I love this. Sounds like people looking for authentic local cuisine wont be disappointed!

    2. yee haawww

    3. I’ll be there, looking forward to it! Glad they changed the camera thing…

    4. Are there any plans for F1Fanatics to gather somewhere? That could be awesome! Especially if any of them are up for sampling the delights of 6th st on saturday night! ;)

    5. Good round-up as usual, Keith, thank you. Currently in New Orleans, pointing the Mustang back to Texas to Houston tomorrow (Wed), then Austin on Thu.

      Mentioned in another post that I booked my accommodation via the airbnb website. It has been a positive experience and the owner has been very helpful and communicative. Given the astronomical hotel rates, keep this in mind if anyone is still looking.

      Definitely keen for a meet-up, suggest posting in the meet-up forum for any ideas. I know there’s a COTA arranged karaoke night on Friday hosted by Will Buxton (Speed TV) and the Thursday night premier of the F1 documentary ‘1’.

      And as for value for money, compared to Singapore and Australia, very little else included with (a more costly) grandstand ticket in terms of both on and off track events, concerts, activities. The tickets themselves are even a little crummy! Paper, no lanyards. Still excited nonetheless!

    6. I’m in the midst of the 1500 mile drive from Los Angeles to Austin. I’m in Flagstaff, Arizona right now getting ready this chilly (17 deg F) morning for the long drive into Texas. Thursday, I’ll pick up my friend who’s flying into Austin from Boston, Mass. I have a lot a friends in LA who love F1 and are jealous they can’t make the trip with me. I can’t wait for the Austin eats and ladies! I cant wait to hear Kimi mumble as I ask for his autograph. And I can’t wait to see what happens at that nasty looking turn one!

      1. @manjuboy, I’m from L.A. but I’m flying to Texas from Seattle. Have a safe drive, perhaps I will see You in the lone star state!

        1. I’m also from LA but flying from Seattle! Crazy haha

    7. Anyone have tips on how to try to get driver autographs?

      1. Susie, I received an email com COTA with the autograph schedule.

        Driver Autograph Sessions
        Friday – November 16, 2012
        11:30 – 11:50am
        Sauber Drivers
        11:50 – 12:10pm
        Lotus Drivers
        3:30 – 3:55pm
        HRT Drivers
        4:45 – 5:00pm
        Marussia Drivers
        5:00 – 5:30pm
        Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber test driver)
        Saturday – November 17, 2012
        2:15 – 2:30pm
        Red Bull Drivers
        2:50 – 3:10pm
        Mercedes Drivers
        3:30 – 3:50pm
        Toro Rosso Drivers
        4:00 – 4:20pm
        McLaren Drivers
        4:40 – 5:00pm
        Caterham Drivers

        Ferrari Drivers
        Sunday – November 18, 2012
        9:10 – 9:30am
        Force India Drivers
        10:10 – 10:30am
        Williams Drivers

        1. And this is what Sauber posted on their FB page.

          Save the date: Sauber F1 Team Fan Gathering at Circuit of The Americas! Friday 5pm, Drivers Autograph Stage on Grand Plaza (in the grassy area near the orange T19 sign). More info on Thursday. Be there! Who’s coming?

          1. Interesting to see that Gutierrez has his own autograph session; something to do with the geographical proximity to Mexico and the possibility of having numerous Mexican fans at the race? Bernie’s call?

    8. You can’t beat a bit of local knowledge and it’s always nice to be able to part with some for fellow F1 fans. This looks like it’s all really well organised so I hope that by this time next week everyone had a good experience.

      1. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for smooth(ish) traffic with all the naysayers and doom-mongers predicting the roads heading to the track turning into massive parking lots on race day. If there’s one part of the weekend that really needs to be well organized, I reckon traffic management would be it.

        1. I have the same fear. I just arrived in Austin after making the 1500 mile drive from LA. I received an email from COTA advising fans to arrive VERY early at the shuttle pick areas because of expected heavy traffic near the track. Woohoo!

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