A Visit To Grand-Am of the Americas

Words & Photography: Kevin Cole | Copy Edit: Erik Langerak

I recently had the chance to check out the new F1 track in Austin, TX while on a business trip.  Fortunately, there was also a Grand-Am race that same weekend, and a good friend graciously let me borrow a DSLR camera with zoom lens.

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The Circuit of The Americas, or CoTA, was completed and officially opened just six months ago on October 21, 2012. This Rolex Sports Car Series Grand-Am race was only the second race to be held at this track, the first being the Formula One United States Grand Prix back in November. CoTA is comprised of twenty turns and 133 feet of elevation change over a 3.427-mile course.

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CoTA also houses 120,000 spectators comfortably, but that’s just in the grandstands.  There is also a generous amount of extra room around the track to sit on grassy hills or bring a couple folding chairs to create your own viewing area.  We were able to take a gravel walkway around the entire track to check out different vantage points for photos.

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If you would like to get a bird’s eye view of the course, there is an observation tower standing 251 feet high. Fans can pay an admission fee and ride the elevator to the top where they can get a 360-degree view of the area featuring a partial glass floor and glass railing.

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Between races we were able to check out the pits and garages where teams were working on their cars. You could literally walk right up to drivers and talk to them, have autographs signed, and have your picture taken with them – all at no extra charge. There were also a large number of vendors in this area and shops where you could pick up exclusive CoTA merchandise.

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You can sit almost anywhere and catch a great view of the action. The grandstands in Turn 1 are a fantastic, elevated vantage point, because you can see the drivers braking up the hill going into the first turn from the front stretch at the start/finish line. This was a hot spot for wrecks and aggressive jockeying for position. In front of Turn 15, stands positioned there also offer a perfect seat for spectating. You are able to see the back stretch as well as the tight sections in Turns 12-15.

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Corvette dominated the DP class taking three out of the top five positions, including first place.  Porsche made its presence known in the GT class taking second, third, and fourth with BMW finishing first and Ferrari finishing fifth. You can find all of the official results on Grand-Am’s official website here.

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