Today Formula 1 drivers will take the fight to each other in Mexico, a week after entertaining fans here in the US. Last week I attended the USGP at the awesome Circuit of the Americas track in in Austin, TX. I decided to share my experience with the Spekture vewiers!
After checking in my hotel, taking a nap and changing clothes, I set out for downtown Austin to take part in the fan activities. The Bud Light Fan Fest in downtown Austin had a few blocks of 6th street closed to vehicle traffic for one big street party. There were musicians on the street, various vendor activities, and plenty of bars and restaurants running specials to welcome race fans inside. I found the storefronts on 6th street pretty interesting so I took some pictures while I was there. I particularly enjoyed a photography exhibit with photos of Formula 1 races past and present. It was getting late and I knew I had a long day ahead………so I grabbed an awesome slice of pizza from Roppolo’s Pizzeria before heading back to the car.
My day started about 5 am since I hadn’t unpacked my camera gear from traveling, nor had I laid out my clothes for the next day. I got everything I needed together and hit the road by 6 for the 1hr 15 min commute to Austin. When I arrived inside the gates, I was quite impressed with my view from the bleachers at turns 4-6. I had some time before the Formula 1 drivers took the track for Practice 3, so I grabbed breakfast and did a little fan watching. It was interesting seeing the hats, t-shirts, and flags of fans favorite car brand, race team, or driver. I myself am a fan of Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes AMG Petronas team. I also follow Daniel Riccardo (Red Bull) and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) as well. Saturday was my day to explore and take pictures from as many different vantage points as possible. I wanted one of those vantage points to be the COTA tower. I took the tower tour and timed it for around 1 pm so I was up during the F1 Qualifying session. The view from up top was amazing, but with a crowd of people up there it can feel a little uneasy. The rest of the day I captured a few shots of the driver autograph sessions. By late evening I was exhausted, but took in a little Taylor Swift before calling it a night and doing it all over again on Sunday.
Sunday morning started a little bit later for me and I was able to have some breakfast at the hotel before checking out. With the fist race of the day starting at 10 am, I was able to get to the track and find a couple more vantage points to shoot. The Masters Historic Race, and the Mobil 1 Porsche Supercup were the first two races of the morning before the Formula 1 activities started at Noon. The walk between turn 9 and 11 was brutal to walk due to steep inclines, but the sight lines of the track were well worth the climb. As it got closer to noon, I grabbed a bite and made it to my seat in time for the driver parade. After follow on performances by the Texas A&M band and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders we were ready for the last 30 min of pre-race activities. After the National Anthem and a US Army flyby……..the Rolex clock struck 2 pm and it was time to race. With Lewis Hamilton well ahead at the halfway point, I made my way to the entry point for the Fan Track Invasion. With the race complete the track opened to the fans and there was an all out sprint to the podium. I enjoyed being able to see Lewis hoist the trophy, and capture some shots of it.
Though the weekend was super busy, the atmosphere was awesome! I met some cool race fans, and photographers along the way. I plan to do it all again next year now that I have one USGP under my belt.