For the past 6 years I have attended the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas with my family, and every year has been one for the books.
I remember watching my first Formula 1 race with my step dad. I heard the loud high-pitched sound from my bed room, and emerged curious as to what could possibly be making that sound. I remember my mother wasn’t home, and when she wasn’t, my stepdad would turn the volume up on the TV, he said, “It makes me feel like I’m there”.
Little did I know what I had stumbled upon was Formula 1, and even lesser did I know was that the race I watched was the legendary Nigel Mansell chasing down Ayrton Senna on the streets on Monaco.
Jump ahead to 2010 when it was announced that a race track was going to be built right outside of Austin, which is roughly an hour and thirty five minutes from my hometown of College Station, Formula 1 was coming to Texas.
For years I thought that I would have to travel across the globe to one of the many F1 circuits to witness a F1 race with my own eyes, and here it has set foot in my backyard.
After the layout of the track was revealed, I sat down with my stepfather, and a handful of racing friends, and we studied the track, every corner, and every straight, to decide where we would see the most action. Corner fifteen provided the best vantage point to see any overtaking coming at the end of the long straight into turn twelve and from there we would be able to see the cars as they exited turn 15. After taking all of this into consideration, we bought our seats as a group. Every year we have gathered as a group of friends to watch the best drivers in the world, while we catch up on each other’s lives since our last meeting. The seats that we’ve sat in for the last few years now have a little wear from the harsh Texas weather, but they felt even more comfortable this year, (according to my buttocks anyway), as we prepared to kick off the race weekend.
Here we are the sixth year of the Formula 1 USGP, and every time I walk through the gates of COTA, and hear the beeping sound from the little machine that scans my tickets, every memory of the experience is refreshed in my mind. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn’t grinning ear to ear as I wrote that last sentence, as this truly had me feeling like a little kid on Christmas.
Friday consist of practice sessions for the teams, they begin to set up their cars, develop their strategies, and refamiliarize themselves with the stunning track known as COTA. When the time allotted for practice starts, you hear some of the most advanced racing cars come to life, and for the first time since the previous F1 USGP, the cars take to the track.
We start the day by stopping by one of the best breakfast joints in Texas, JP’s Taco Express to grab some morning grub. Understand that when I say I drive 30min away for these tacos, that I’m not talking about some taco bell. For nearly 20 years we’ve driven the curvy backroads to JPs as a weekend ritual. After picking up breakfast we continue to COTA. The schedule for Saturday continues with a final practice session and the follows with qualifying. Now it’s down to business, as the drivers fight to earn their spots on the grid for the race.
As my alarm goes off at 6am on Sunday October 22nd, I am already showered, dressed and ready, for today is THE 2017 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix!! At this point in the season, my favorite driver, Lewis Hamilton leads in points for clutching the World Championship. If Sebastian Vettel comes in 6th or less, then Hamilton would be World Champion for the 2017 season. As much as I’d have liked it to have been settled at COTA, I had a gut feeling that this wouldn’t be that day. After the lights go out, and the cars roar up the hill to turn one, Sebastian Vettel takes the lead, and continues to hold it for the next few laps, only to be passed by Lewis Hamilton who retained the lead throughout the race. You could say this had already been foreseen, but what had not been foreseen was the astonishingly epic drive from Max Verstappen, who drive all the way from 16th on the grid to taking 3rd place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen on the last lap of the race. Due to some questionable decisions, Max was removed from Podium due to going off the track during the pass. This caused a uproar from fans, and a great upset for Verstappen, which has lead to a split on the legitimacy of the ruling.
I would argue that this has been the best race of the season, and what a race to witness in person!
The sad, part is having to go back to waking up at the early hours of the morning to catch the races live, but with this being the best season in years in my eyes, what’s losing a few hours of sleep!?
If you have not attended an F1 race, I believe that it is an absolute must for any die hard motorsports fan. If you get a chance to drive the beautiful facility that Is Circuit of the Americas….(in a childlike voice and laughter)….OH MY GOSH DOOOO IT!!!!
@_SteveCEllis (Twitter & Instagram)