Shifting Gears In The Lone Star State

Today the eyes of motor sports world are focused squarely on Texas. The Lone Star State is hosting a pair of major events bringing in hundreds of thousands of auto racing fans to Austin and Fort Worth for a weekend of fast cars and tailgating. Get your motor runnin’ and as we take a look at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Formula 1 events in the great state of Tejas.

Formula 1 United States Grand Prix
Circuit of the Americas
Austin, Texas

The Circuit of The Americas, or CoTA is it is commonly referred, is the nation’s first race track designed specifically for Formula 1, and was built over a two-year period in Travis County near Austin, Texas. The course was conceived by former race car driver and auto racing promoter Tavo Hellmund and former motorcycle racer Kevin Schwantz, with input from world-renown auto circuit architect Herman Tilke. With 20 turns over close to 3.5 miles, The Circuit of the Americas quickly developed a reputation as one of the world’s premiere road racing courses since the it’s first race in 2012. The CoTA has some interesting features, including 133 feet of elevation changes and its status as one of only a small handful of road courses around the globe to run counter-clockwise.

The CoTA was designed with the fan in mind, and at no time do these features get the spotlight more then during the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. The 2014 edition of the event October 31-November 2, will host close to 120,000 fans to watch the world’s premiere open wheel race car drivers during the only Formula 1 race in the United States. Fans can show off their cowboy boots at the Texas Saloon village, an area featuring Western activities for all ages, and can also their way over to the Latin-themed Pachanga village. There is also a sports bar on site where fans can watch American football and drink an ice-cold beer or two.

Elsewhere on the grounds, fans can roam the Grand Plaza, a 20-acre space featuring a reflecting pool, a promenade with tons of concessions and retail, and a pair of pedestrian bridges over turns 3 and 16 offering unprecedented views of the action below. The CoTA also houses the Austin360 Amphitheater, a state-of-the-art entertainment complex with a capacity of 17,000 that hosts many big names in music during event weekends. Kid Rock, for instance, performs this Sunday following the completion of the United States Grand Prix.

The facility’s signature feature is, without question, the observation tower. Designed by Miró Rivera Architects and built by Patriot Erectors, the sleek red and white tower sports an observation deck 230 feet above the track. With enough room for 70 spectators, the tower also features glass railings and a partial glass floor.

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of The Circuit of The Americas, it’s time to move 220 miles to the north and visit Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, Texas

After nine months of racing the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is winding down, stopping at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500, the third to last race on the NASCAR schedule. The second race in the Eliminator Round of NASCAR’s Chase Grid format, stock car fans are assured of seeing quality racing as NASCAR comes closer to crowning a champion. Located on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile oval track and 20-degree turns with a capacity of more than 190,000 people. The track opened in 1996 and hosting NASCAR events since 1997. Beginning in 2005, Texas Motor Speedway has hosted two NASCAR events each year, one in April and one in mid-to-late fall.

Tailgating is a big deal at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS), as it is at most NASCAR venues, with buses and RVs lining up for miles outside the track. Tailgaters arriving as much as two weeks early isn’t unheard of at TMS. Hungry race fans wandering around can also expect to find some interesting items on grills and smokers including rattlesnake. That’s right – rattlesnake!

One of the newest tailgating zones is called Pit Stop Park, an exclusive area in the VIP parking lot near gates 3 and 4. Pit Stop Park has 76 spaces measuring 15 feet by 36 feet with each space being half asphalt, half natural grass. However, if Pit Stop Park isn’t exclusive enough, open up your wallet and shell out some bucks for The Speedway Club. One of the largest sports entertainment facilities in the country – yes it’s big and it’s Texas, we got it – The Speedway Club is a private club providing members and their invited guests with a fine dining restaurant and bar, a health club, and a salon/spa. That’s Texas-sized hospitality!

The 2014 AAA Texas 500 gets underway at 3 p.m. EST with Matt Kenseth starting in pole position.

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