The Complete Experience: Formula One in Austin

Nicole Diaz

This fall, the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1, returns to Austin. From Friday, October 22nd to Sunday, October 24th, you can catch the best drivers in the world laying down rubber at Circuit of the Americas just outside downtown Austin. After a pandemic-induced break from Austin, Formula 1 is back in a big way. This year’s race promises to be the best the track has held. This is partly because of its October date as opposed to its usual November date.

This is unlike previous years, where Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton arrived in Austin with the championship lead well in hand. 2021 is likely to see at least one other driver challenging him for the world title: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Also up in the air and closer than ever will be the midfield championship positions. These carry heavy rewards and are fought over viciously. With one rookie, two reconfigured teams, three former world champions, and five new driver lineups this year, the midfield is absolutely guaranteed to contribute to the heart-pounding adrenaline anticipated by the motorsport community.  

As if that weren’t enough drama, feeder series Formula 3 and recently inaugurated all-female W Series will borrow the track for their own championships the same weekend. And after each day of hair-raising action, you can keep the excitement going by exploring Austin’s vibrant culture. 

Trackside

Because everything is bigger in Texas, Circuit of the Americas isn’t just a track. The complex includes the Germania Insurance Amphitheater, Bold Stadium, COTA Karting track, and Moonstruck Drive-In Cinema to accommodate a wide range of Austin’s favorite pastimes. The amphitheater also hosts Twenty One Pilots and Billy Joel on Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd respectively. In addition, they join the stadium in offering events throughout October which fans can hit before and after the race. 

Downtown

While there’s plenty to enjoy trackside, the city itself is just as enticing. During the day, discover South Congress’ impressive array of picture-perfect murals, eclectic shops, and unique restaurants. Once night falls, head to 6th Street for an urban entertainment experience spanning several snazzy bars and specialty snack sites. The Blanton Museum of Art and Bullock Texas State History Museum are also conveniently located at the center of downtown Austin, alongside the historic ZACH Theatre, for a more relaxing schedule. Finally, hitting Barton Creek Mall, Barton Springs Pool, and Zilker Botanical Garden is a surefire way to make the most of Austin’s offerings.

Dining

Fuel up for your downtown day out at one of Austin’s delicious and distinctive restaurants. For the quintessential Texas meal, Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q is your best bet. For something with a little more of that famous Austin “weird,” try homegrown eateries like Cenote and Mattie’s. 

Alternatively, more casual fare is available at the many, many food truck parks scattered around the city. Equally as tasty as restaurants and delightfully social, food truck parks offer a little bit of everything. From The Doughminican and Chef Hong’s cultural cuisine to Hey Cupcake! and Churro Co.’s insta-ready sweets, you are sure to leave satisfied and in a partial food coma. Of course, this brings us to the last, most necessary aspect of enjoying the race week in Austin – having somewhere to recharge.

Accommodations

Like its restaurant scene, Austin’s hotel scene has something for everyone. Omni Austin Hotel Downtown and Fairmont Austin provide affordable luxury and tasteful modernity. Likewise, boutique hotels like Hotel Ella, The Ruby Hotel & Bar, and Kimber Modern Boutique Hotel cater to niche markets with individualistic aesthetics. There are also markedly “Austin” hotels. For example, Lone Star Court celebrates southern hospitality and Austin’s world-class music scene. On the other hand, The Driskill pays tribute to the city’s history and timeless charm.