For those that thought Formula 1 was cost prohibitive, the Grand Am series is a more affordable opportunity to watch a lot of racing and check out the state of the art facility that is Circuit of The Americas. Tickets are about $60 a person (admission is free for children under the age of 12) for Friday and Saturday and on-site parking is $20 a day. The cars will get going at 8 a.m. and finish around 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Another exciting aspect of Grand Am is the accessibility for the fans. The Circuit’s paddock area behind the team garages will be open throughout the weekend, and there will be pre-race fan walks in the Pit-Lane one hour prior to the scheduled start of each Grand Am race. Car enthusiasts will recognize many of the makes and models racing although modified for racing, they include Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Ferrari and Porsche to name a few.
(Circuit of The Americas has some videos and basic information about Grand Am on its website, which the novice will find very helpful.)
Looking ahead at COTA’s schedule for 2013, Grand Am is just the beginning of an event-filled schedule. COTA will host four more premier motor sports events (ahead of Formula 1), along with quite a few concerts and educational events.
Formula Sun Grand Prix
In June, Formula Sun Grand Prix, which is a solar car race competition among universities, will be held at COTA. This is the first time a FSGP will take place at a Formula 1 facility, reinforcing COTA’s emphasis on sustainability. COTA is the first Formula 1 facility to be a member of the Green Sports Alliance.
MotoGP will be the next event after Grand Am, held April 19 through 21. Commonly referred to as the Formula 1 of motorcycles, the official title for this event is the 2013 Red Bull MotoGP of the Americas. It should a well attended event, as this series has three American riders. MotoGP is also very exciting because there are three classes of motorcycles that race, which means lots of on-track action to watch.
Much like the Grand Am, this is a fairly affordable event — three-day general admission passes are $89, and based on my experience at the Formula 1 Grand Prix there are plenty of great places to watch from in the general admission areas. In fact, in many respects it’s better to have a general admission pass, that way you can walk around on Friday and Saturday to figure which vantage point you prefer, and pick the best one for the races on Sunday.
MotoGP will be followed by V8 Supercars May 17 through 19. This should be an entertaining style of racing, as it seems to be a hybrid of traditional track racing — like Grand Am — and stock cars — like NASCAR. I imagine we’ll see quite a bit of passing and a few fender benders along the way at this race. Three-day general admission passes are available for $69.
World Endurance Championship
After the hot summer break, racing will resume September 20 through 22 with the World Endurance Championship. Circuit of the Americas has not released much information yet, but these are the same types of cars that compete in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Formula 1 Grand Prix
After the endurance race it will be time for the 2nd Formula 1 Grand Prix from November 16 through 18, which requires little to no introduction. Let the races begin!