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2017 Formula1 USGP | October 20-22, 2017
Circuit of the Americas | Austin, TX

After 5 years of waiting, I finally got my chance to attend the United States Grand Prix in Austin. We made a long weekend out of it & drove to Austin on Thursday afternoon. It took some time to filter through the nearly 3,000 photos I took over the 3 days. In some cases, I could’ve made a stop motion movie out of them; I may have been a little trigger happy. All of the photos were shot with a Nikon D70S & mostly with a 55-200 lens, my 18-70 wasn’t enough zoom, but did give some better motion/action shots. Next year, I’ll have to get a lens with a bit more zoom than the 55-200, I think.
An unexpected result, my wife is a lot more into F1 than she was before. Seeing it in person & learning how things work & the rules got her more interested. I don’t think she’s quite to the point of watching all 3 days of TV coverage yet, but it may get her watching the races.

We’d originally planned to take the shuttle from downtown, but it was going to be $50 per person per day, so well over double the on-site parking. The lot we were in was about a mile from the main gates of the track, then our seats were roughly another mile from the main gates. So, just from the truck to our seats & back was about 4 miles a day. In total, my wife’s iWatch showed that we covered about 22 miles over the 3 days at the track.

We had grandstand seats at turn 9, more at the turn 9 than turn 10 end, which gives views from turn 6 to a slightly obscured turn 12. When my wife first told me where our seats were, I wasn’t too excited, but a few YouTube videos showed the awesome views. T9 is also the 2nd highest point on track, and has a large TV screen in front of it for keeping up with the race when the cars aren’t right in front of you.

Friday started with some foggy & damp weather, but quickly improved. Free practice 1 was mostly run on the light wet tires & we were glad we’d stopped off on Thursday night for some wet weather gear, so we had a couple ponchos to put down on the damp grandstands. Friday was a relatively light attendance day; the stands were nearly free range as far as seating was concerned. It seemed like most people spent the day away from the track, or taking in the events around the track facilities.
We attempted to get in on one of the autograph sessions, as a Bottas & Ricciardo fan, those were the 2 I wanted to attempt to get. We got there about an hour before the session started & the Williams drivers came out unscheduled, but we were too far back to get anything there. The crowd turned into sardines when the Mercedes & Red Bull drivers came out & we were still just barely too far back to get anything signed. We didn’t try any other autograph sessions, lesson learned.

Saturday was brutally hot in the stands, and a lot higher attendance. Free practice 3 was light in the stands, but qualifying was a significant increase of people in seats.
There were 2 support events over the weekend as well. A few Formula4 races & Masters Historic races. We missed the F4 action, as I was in line to try my hands at the F1 simulator. They were running the F1 2017 game on Win10 laptops with Thrustmaster wheel/pedal setups. Not sure the reason, but the laptops were constantly going down, so they rarely had all 8 sims open at once, which significantly increased wait times. The top time per session got to do a full motion simulator & the top times across the first 2 days had a run-off for a paddock tour & a photo with the race winner. I didn’t even come close, kids & adults that own the game were dominating the times on the sims.
The Masters race was fun to watch, it was made up of former F1 cars from ’77-’82 & they ran a race about half the distance of the actual Sunday race. The Masters cars are much louder than the current turbocharged V6 cars. I believe the Masters were all running a variant of the Ford DFV engine of that period.
After qualifying, the track was opened for the evening shows. A group called The Shadowboxers performed, followed by Justin Timberlake (which was one of the driving factors in getting tickets, my wife is a big fan). Both bands were good, but not knowing many of the JT songs, I slightly preferred the opener.

Overnight, around 5AM Sunday morning, Austin got a heavy dose of rain, so the parking lots & GA seating were a muddy mess in places. Luckily, the track was dry for the pre-race & race events.
I missed about the last 20 laps, as I made the mile run over to the finish line for the ‘track invasion’ once the cars were all into the pits post-race. Couldn’t quite get up to the pit fence as it was pretty packed by the time I got to the podium. Got a few shots of the podium ceremony, but was having to shoot blindly over my head for them. The teams waste no time tearing down, I walked the pit wall & got some photos & by the time I got to the end (Sauber) they were rolling boxes away.
Also made the climb up to turn 1, it is significantly steeper than it appears in photos or TV. It starts as a slight incline & really ramps up about midway. Had planned on walking down to the esses to get a few photos on track, but they had closed it off & were starting to marshal people off the track. We also didn’t go up the tower, $30 per person & 25 stories in the heat didn’t sound like much fun with all the walking we’d done already.
We did not stay after the race for the Stevie Wonder concert, we were both exhausted & hit the road back to Houston.

My wife is already looking forward to next year & I’ve told her that I want to look into getting a ride in the 2 seater, which is a stretched 1998 Tyrell chassis. The Ford V10 in the back of that car can be heard from just about any point on track & with 2 of them running, it’s an amazing soundtrack.




The Enemy's gate is down.
 
Posts: 5296 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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A few from around the track:
The Esses: Turns 3-5

The COTA Tower

Podium

Looking down the main straight, up the hill to T1, from about P12 on the grid

Looking down the hill from T1

One of the 2 seater cars

Mr. Damon Hill, he turned right when I hit the trigger:




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Posts: 5296 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The view from our seats:
T6

T7

T8/T9


T10

T11

T12, just obscured by the white tent




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Posts: 5296 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Now for the stuff you guys really want to see:
Safety Car

Medical Car (I’d definitely drive one of these for a daily)

Driver’s Parade




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Posts: 5296 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mercedes
Hamilton | 44




Bottas | 77






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Ferrari
Vettel | 5



Räikkönen | 7







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Red Bull Racing
Ricciardo | 3



Verstappen | 33








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Force India
Perez | 11


Ocon | 31






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Williams
Massa | 19


Stroll | 18





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Toro Rosso
Hartley | 39



Kvyat | 26


Gelael | 38




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Renault
Hulkenberg | 27

Sainz | 55





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HAAS
Grosjean | 8





Magnussen | 20




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McLaren
Alonso | 14

Vandoorne | 2






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Sauber
Ericsson | 9


Wehrlein | 94





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The Winner’s Podium





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Cat Whisperer
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great pictures! I think COTA is the nicest track in the country


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135
├┼┼╕
246R
 
Posts: 3754 | Location: SE PA | Registered: November 13, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Told my wife, I really want to do a track day there. Just need a car/bike to do it with. Or a driving experience package.

I'll get a post up tomorrow with some shots of the Masters Historic race.




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Posts: 5296 | Location: Spring, TX | Registered: July 11, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not one pretty girl in the whole joint eh?


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Posts: 873 | Location: Idaho Panhandle | Registered: July 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Awesome pics!
Thanks for sharing.




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Posts: 26510 | Location: Westizzle Virgizzle | Registered: December 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Great pictures!
 
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