Tito’s Shelby Cobra at SXSW

Tito’s Shelby Cobra at SXSW

I recently returned from a trip to United States Grand Prix for the Formula One Championship in Austin, Texas. I simmed the Circuit of the Americas (“COTA”) the night before walking it and have been dying to run it. It’s supposedly $55,000 for track rental, which entails a 25 car grid. I was initially skeptical, but seeing it on the ground makes you realize it’s a world-class track layout, even though the spectator facilities are supposedly not as pampering as Abu Dhabi.

By most measurements, it seemed to be a relative success. According to various outlets like the Austin American Statesman or KXAN, an estimated 300 private plane landings at AUS this weekend. There was 113,162 race day attendance. Although it was down from 117,429, it was far better than Indianapolis’s sophomore slump of 50,000. Attendance is the same order of magnitude as Silverstone, Australia, and Montreal. I will be curious to see the final report for 2013, since it seemed like there were far less than the 2,546 helicopter rides to the Circuit during 2012. It seemed to be a success compared to India, Korea, or Abu Dhabi.

Just to give you a taste, here’s a partial clip of F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel doing doughnuts:

F1 weekend is also accompanied by tons of parties and reservation-filled restaurants. But in addition, there are also a bunch of pop-up parties that were open to the public. Red Bull’s makeshift discotheque was particularly memorable, though not for the music. They had two Infinitis hooked up to some dynos and guests could essentially drag race them against each other.

Red Bull Infiniti Drag Race

There was also an auction involving some relatively affordable classic cars:

Jaguar XK120

Basically, it was SXSW/ACL for gearheads (what Americans call petrolheads).