Fast times at COTA

NASCAR speeds back into Austin with full weekend of racing and sideshow fun

NASCAR speeds back into Austin with 3 days of racing and sideshow fun

Circuit of the Americas
Austin's world-class racetrack is revving up for NASCAR weekend. COTA/Instagram
Ty Dillon's 42 NASCAR
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon will be among those racing for the COTA win. Ty Dillon/Instagram
The Rocketman Valencia
Off-track entertainment includes human cannonball The Rocketman Valencia. Photo courtesy of COTA
Canine Stars
Canine Stars will show off their amazing tricks. Photo courtesy of COTA
Swine pig races
The Swifty Swine Pig Races will put COTA attendees in hog heaven. Photo courtesy of COTA
Dripping Springs-based Midland performs prior to the headlining NASCAR race on Sunday. Photo courtesy of COTA
Circuit of the Americas
Ty Dillon's 42 NASCAR
The Rocketman Valencia
Canine Stars
Swine pig races

Buckle up, Austin. NASCAR, the speediest American spectacle on four wheels, is burning rubber back to the Circuit of The Americas March 25-27 for a three-day extravaganza that promises to get your motor running.

Following last May’s inaugural NASCAR weekend at the COTA, the stock-car racing organization is heading full throttle to Austin, with this year’s power-fueled racing triple-header, featuring all three racing divisions, being joined by a sideshow of off-track entertainment festivities aimed at giving fans even more exhilarating experiences.

We’ve got the full rundown of thrilling events below. But first, let’s talk speed.

While this year’s NASCAR event at Circuit of The Americas will surely be less of a deluge than last year’s Cup Series race (which was red flagged for rain with 14 laps to go, giving lead driver Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car the win), it’s not the only difference fans can expect.

For the 2022 season, NASCAR has rolled out its Next Gen car package for the top-echelon Cup Series, intended to level the playing field and make for more democratic racing. Though racing teams are still working out some kinks, NASCAR Cup Series drivers are taking it all in stride.

“The car does look really awesome,” Ty Dillon, driver of the No. 42 Petty GMS Motorsports car, tells CultureMap. “Across the board with the new car, I’ve really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a great racing product. I think the fans agree, too.”

The 20-turn, 3.41-mile COTA track also presents its own challenges, and as home of the first road course race of the season, it’s bound to confound some race teams as they navigate a track that’s only been part of the NASCAR circuit for a year, and with a brand-new car. But that’s not keeping these speed demon drivers from buzzing with anticipation to return to Austin’s world-class racetrack.

“I am so excited to go to this race. I’ve been preparing for it a couple weeks out,” says Dillon, who hails from a legendary family that’s considered NASCAR royalty. “Last year, going to the racetrack, I was blown away by how amazing and beautiful the facility was. … To me, it’s one of the top-notch venues you can go and experience a racetrack. … Categorically, road courses are my favorite.”

For Dillon, who just joined the hallowed Petty GMS Motorsports team this season, there’s plenty to prove and live up to, but he remains unscathed and exuberant about the chance to go above and beyond expectations at the COTA.

“Getting to drive the No. 42 … there’s so much history there,” Dillon tells CultureMap. “Petty GMS is headed in the right direction. … The leaders of our group are going to give us the right cars and everything that we need to go succeed. It’s just a matter of us putting it out there on the track.”

For the full schedule of events during NASCAR’s upcoming triple-header weekend at Circuit of the Americas — which will include the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and the headlining NASCAR Cup Series races — visit the COTA website.

Adding to the overall rip-roaring experience at the COTA during NASCAR weekend are tons of new amusement and entertainment festivities to rev fans up.  

As the COTA folks put it, “While the NASCAR drivers will remain the unparalleled ringmasters of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix triple-header weekend at Circuit of The Americas … fans should prepare for an invasion of entertainment acts that will provide a circus-like atmosphere to the festivities.”

Here’s the rundown of off-track experiences racing into COTA during NASCAR weekend:

Great American High Dive Show
Grand Plaza Stadium
March 26, 10:05 am and 11:20 am
March 27, 11:05 am, 12:45 pm, 2 pm
Featuring a team of Olympic-caliber national and world champion divers, this act includes the dramatic human torch fire dive, thrilling high dives from an 80-foot platform, an All-American show, and a hilarious costumed clown diving act.

The Rocketman Valencia
Reflection Pond
March 26, 10 am and 11:30 am
March 27, 10:30 am, noon, 2 pm
This human cannonball will launch from a giant cannon at more than 55 mph, reach heights of over 65 feet, and travel into a safety net some 165 feet away.

Swifty Swine Pig Races
Grand Plaza Stadium
March 26, 9:15 am and 10:55 am
March 27, 10:15 am, 11:55 am, 1:10 pm
Porker thoroughbreds will race at 15 mph around a 150-foot oval track. Bonus swine: Swifty the world-record-chasing swimming pig will make a splashy appearance.

Canine Stars
Grand Plaza Stadium
March 26, 9:40 am, 11:45 am, 2:45 pm
March 27, 10:40 am and 12:20 pm
Highlighted on America’s Got Talent last season, Canine Stars features a world-class team of dog trainers and their adopted dogs from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands, and South Korea showcasing their athletic ability and extreme discipline.

Circus Picnic
Grand Plaza Stadium and Main Grandstands
March 26, 9 am-noon
March 27, 10 am-2 pm
The COTA grounds give way to a festive circus atmosphere with various entertainers, including fire breathers and stilt walkers.

Robert Castillo’s Freestyle BMX team
Outside Turn 19
March 26, 9:30 am, 11 am, 2:30 pm
March 27, 10:15 am, noon, 1:30 pm
Nationally recognized extreme-action-sports athletes will perform an array of thrilling BMX stunts.

Color Cartel
Turn 12
March 26, 8 am-noon
March 27, 10 am-1:30 pm at Turn 12 and on pit lane
Graffiti artists APSE and Iva will bring their bold and creative style to the racetrack with their special artistic talents.

Full Steel Combat
Grand Plaza Stadium
March 26, 10:30 am and 2:15 pm
March 27, 11:30 am and 1:35 pm
Take a step way back in time as steel-clad medieval soldiers take part in a tournament that features individual duels with axes, swords, shields and maces, team combat, and a grand melee in which it is everyone for themselves.

Smacking Axes
Turn 12 and the Amphitheater
March 26, 9 am-noon at Turn 12 and 6:30-9:30 pm at the Amphitheater
March 27, 10 am-2 pm at Turn 12
This is an interactive display that will allow fans to throw axes at targets. A master ax smacker will be on hand to help fans with proper technique.

Mobile Escape Room Texas
Turn 12
March 26, 9 am-noon
March 27, 10 am-2 pm
This interactive experience requires players to use teamwork and communication skills to find clues and solve complex puzzles inside a state-of-the-art, climate-controlled adventure trailer.

After-Party at The Amp
The Amphitheater
March 26, 6:30 pm
Following the conclusion of on-track action on Saturday, the venue will host After-Party at The Amp featuring the tribute rock band Hairball. The event will begin with a Q&A session with NASCAR Cup Series drivers and a special guest, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin. Hairball will hit the stage at 7:30 pm for a two-hour concert.

Front-stretch stage
March 27, 12:45 pm
Midland, the Grammy Award-nominated band from Dripping Springs will perform a one-hour concert prior to the start of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR Cup Series race.

Tickets for the three-day extravaganza of NASCAR at COTA are available here.