Photo by Amber Heckler

This October has been packed full of events to garner out-of-town and local attention, and it’s not stopping yet. Coming in the wake of ACL, the upcoming United States Grand Prix looks to draw as many – if not more – crowds for the most popular international motorsport that has been racing in Austin since 2012.

Since Netflix’s release of Drive to Survive in 2019, interest in Formula 1 has increased significantly within the United States. The 2019 US Grand Prix had 268,000 attendees, and the 2021 return of F1 in Austin (after 2020’s race cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic) saw 400,000 attendees at the event, making it the biggest Grand Prix in history. This year’s race has a lot to live up to.

If you’re coming in from out of town looking for some non-track events to feel your way through Austin, or you’re a local looking to avoid some of the trackside traffic, here are eight F1 events happening throughout the city leading up to the race.

Red Bull at Northside
The current leading team in the constructor’s and driver’s championship will be at the Domain this Wednesday beginning at 5 pm. Located at The Lawn, there will be opportunities to test your racing skills with F1 racing simulators, a Red Bull F1 race car to take selfies with, live music by a DJ, official merchandise and more. While you’re there, you can check out one of the many restaurants, bars, and high-end shops the Domain has to offer.

Williams Racing Drivers Meet & Greet
In partnership with Duracell, the Williams Racing team will be at the Pflugerville Home Depot on Thursday from 3 to 7 pm. There will be a track to test your skills at remote control car racing and more. Williams Racing drivers Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi will be racing RC cars and having a meet and greet at the event from 6 to 7 pm.

Happy Hour with Danica Patrick
One of the most successful female racecar drivers is pursuing a new adventure in her retirement with her own wine and candle brands. Tarrytown’s Hearth & Soul boutique will be hosting a wine-tasting and candle-autograph session with Danica Patrick from 6 to 7 pm on Thursday. Patrick’s Voyant candles are launching exclusively at Hearth & Soul.

Fashion Show at The Howard Social Club
Treun House Atelier is unveiling its new Signature Collection focused on sustainability Friday from 4 to 8 pm at The Howard Social Club. The free F1-themed show will also feature live music by a Scottish pipe band, an art showcase by Kiril Jeliazkov, a supercar showcase and an auction to win a supercar ride at Circuit of the Americas, with proceeds benefitting their sponsored charity Safe in Our World.

Williams Racing presents DJ Cassidy Pass the Mic Live
DJ Cassidy began his ‘Pass the Mic’ series online during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and it became a critically-acclaimed prime time TV series with BET. This Friday at 9:30 pm he’ll be at Austin City Limits Moody Theater with guest stars Robin Thicke, Wyclef Jean, and Shaggy for his latest Pass the Mic Live show. There are hints about “a few familiar faces” from the Williams Racing team at the event, which could suggest drivers Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi. Tickets can be found here.

Circuit Series After Parties with Kid Laroi, Zedd and Post Malone
The Circuit Series After Party first premiered last year with The Chainsmokers, Travis Scott, and DJ Irie. The second annual Circuit Series After Party will take place this Friday and Saturday beginning at 9 pm at the Austin American Statesman. Kid Laroi, Zedd and DJ Irie are set to play Friday night, while Post Malone and Zack Bia will perform Saturday night.

BleauLive Austin Race Nights
For more nightlife entertainment, Fairmont Austin will host BleauLive Austin Race Nights on Friday and Saturday from 9 pm to 2 am. DJ Vice, Konstantina Gianni and The Chainsmokers are set to perform Friday night, while Charly Jordan, DJ Shift, and Marshmello will perform Saturday night.

TRACKSIDE BONUS: Mini-Pecan Street Festival at COTA
For those who will be at the track to watch the race, there will be a special Austin pop-up festival debuting all weekend. The Pecan Street Festival is the longest-running art festival in Austin and is currently in its 45th year of operation. The festival is usually held biannually in May and September. This weekend’s pop-up will feature 40 artisan vendors and can be found in the infield near ONEderland beginning Friday at 8 am.

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Ready to buy your Austin dream home? Here's why a local bank is your secret weapon.

On Your Side

If you’re planning to buy or build your next dream home, consider your options for financing. Contacting a local community bank for your mortgage needs could provide more flexible loan options.

Local banks aim to provide loans based on people and not just their credit scores. That's how SouthStar Bank operates, offering a superior level of personal attention — in the current market, this can be especially crucial.

Whether you are buying your first home or building your forever dream home, there are steps you can take along with your lender and Realtor to create a streamlined process.

Starting with pre-qualification, your lender will evaluate your unique situation. Many borrowers qualify for a traditional home loan — but, of course, not everyone is traditional. Through their unique custom loan programs, SouthStar Bank is continuing to make home ownership a priority for everyone.

Many individuals, especially first-time homeowners, may not understand the nuances and complexities of home loans. For this reason, one of the most important qualities of a good loan officer is to be a great communicator. The best mortgage lenders can convert complex terms into easy-to-understand language for their clients. Don’t be afraid to ask questions early and often!

With the ever-changing market, switching lenders midway through the process can mean losing the perfect home. Having a lender on your side who is able to thoroughly evaluate your situation and pivot to a variety of loan options will keep your goals of homeownership at the forefront.

With the high demand for housing in Austin, many are also considering building their own home. But where to begin? Along with a variety of mortgage options, SouthStar Bank specializes in lot and construction lending. This spans from financing the land to the construction of a custom home on a lot you already own.

Customers can also opt for "construction-to-permanent" loans, which cover your project from beginning to end — and into paying the mortgage. As experts in the market, SouthStar Bank’s lending team will be with you every step of the way.

"For most clients, the construction loan process is new," says Kimberly Watson, SouthStar Bank's senior vice president of lending. "We do what we can to make it as straightforward as possible. It’s something I look at day in and day out, and I enjoy seeing plans come together for clients who aren’t sure where to begin."

Founded in 1920, SouthStar Bank holds over $1 billion in assets and is one of the largest independent banks in Texas. All decisions are made locally by a dedicated lending team, allowing the flexibility to apply common-sense standards to products, services, and loan requests.

Locate your nearest branch to speak directly with a loan officer, or visit the SouthStar Bank website to explore your mortgage options and get started with pre-qualification.

All loans subject to approval. Other fees and restrictions may apply. SouthStar Bank NMLS #410624. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

Ridiculously violent John Wick: Chapter 4 hits most of the right marks

Movie Review

The world of John Wick sure has changed a lot from its relatively small beginnings in 2014. Back then, Wick (Keanu Reeves) was just a former hitman out for revenge on the people who killed his dog. Now it’s full-blown franchise with a story that spans continents, necessitating that each subsequent sequel try to out-do the previous film.

John Wick: Chapter 4 is the biggest movie in the series yet, clocking in at just shy of three hours. Stunt coordinator-turned-director Chad Stahelski does his best to fill that massive running time with as much brutality and derring-do as possible. Wick, having long ago run afoul of the powers-that-be that lead the hitman syndicate, The High Table, is still on the lam, with only a few loyal friends willing to help him.

One of the leaders of The High Table, the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), is on mission to root out Wick once and for all, systemically shutting down versions of The Continental, hotels that serve as safe houses for assassins like Wick. With the Marquis and his henchmen constantly on his tail, Wick has no choice but to do what he does best – take out as many people as he can before they get to him first.

The film, written by Shay Hatten, Michael Finch, and Derek Kolstad, is not quite a non-stop thrill ride, but it’s as close as you can get when you decide to make a film this long. The complexity of the machinations of The High Table makes it almost impossible to keep up with the actual story of the film, but when they get down to the business of fighting, none of that really matters.

There are multiple extended sequences that become an orgy of violence, but the way they’re staged by Stahelski and his team make them eminently engaging. John Wick: Chapter 3 suffered from repetitiveness, and while the same could be said here to a degree, it feels fresher because of the sheer number of combatants and constantly changing scenery.

The fight scenes are magnificently over-the-top, but in this series, that’s to be expected. Where the filmmakers step up this time around is in the cinematography, with bravura shots filling the screen. The camera is almost constantly on the move, swooping in, out, and above the action. One especially memorable sequence even has the camera going above walls to follow the fighting.

While the majority of the story is treated in a deadly serious manner, the filmmakers aren’t afraid to add in some goofy elements. We’ve always had to take Wick’s ability to survive (mostly) unscathed with a huge grain of salt, but this film turns that idea up to 11. At certain points, there’s a kind of a Wile E. Coyote tone to Wick’s escapes, especially a late sequence involving (many) stairs.

There’s not much do the character of John Wick other than his preternatural ability to kill, and Reeves continues to play him perfectly, expressing himself more in gunshots and punches than words. In addition to returning favorites like Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, and Laurence Fishburne, this film sees great supporting turns by Skarsgård, Donnie Yen, and Shamier Anderson.

John Wick: Chapter 4 did not need to be nearly as long as it is, but in this case, the excess is the point. Much of it is ridiculous and ridiculously violent, but it’s also highly entertaining, which is all you can hope for from this type of film.


John Wick: Chapter 4 opens in theaters on March 24.

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4

Photo by Murray Close/Lionsgate

Keanu Reeves in John Wick: Chapter 4.

Texas relaxes into 3rd place in new ranking of best states for camping


With the winter season behind us, it’s time to start looking forward to spring and all the joy it brings, especially camping under the wide open Texas sky. Before you plan your next trip, it might be useful to learn that the Lone Star State recently ranked third in Lawn Love’s 2023 report for Best States for Camping.

Lawn Love compared every U.S. state based on 25 unique metrics, including campsite access, acreage, safety, affordability, and more.

Texas’ third place ranking was determined based on its high scores in several major categories. The Lone Star State has the second highest number of campgrounds, campsites with water, and camping supply stores.

In two other top five category rankings, for the total acreage of campgrounds and average income-adjusted RV rental cost, Texas ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. The state ranked just outside the top five at No. 6 for total acreage of state and national parks.

Beating Texas for the best and second best states for camping were California and Washington, which have the most attractions and highest acreage of national and state parks. This is California’s second year in a row as the top state in Lawn Love’s report. Rounding out the top five after Texas is Florida (No. 4) and New York (No. 5).

Guy deBrun, a camping enthusiast and lecturer at James Madison University, shared his top three tips for staying safe while camping overnight in the wild:

  • Allow yourself enough time for traveling: “Create a time control plan that considers the distance you need to travel, and add one mile for every thousand feet of elevation you need to gain. Divide that by your average rate of travel (usually two miles per hour on a trail with a pack).”
  • Dress in appropriate clothing: “Cotton clothing should be avoided in all but very hot and dry climates. It robs the body of heat because it does not wick moisture and dries slowly.”
  • Use good judgment: “Know your limits, plan your route, and communicate your plans with someone at home.”

The lecturer also recommended every camper have a way to purify their drinking water, such as a chemical treatment or filter, when they embark on their trip.

More information about Lawn Love’s report and its methodology can be found at lawnlove.com.