Last weekend saw the US Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Borro headed out to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the action on and off track.
Our weekend started with a drive on the local roads, determined to find some great roads we discovered Highway 16 and what a road it is, 90 miles of fun from the outskirts of San Antonio right round to Fredericksburg – a town brimming with German influences. After a spot of lunch, we hopped onto the 290 into Austin via Stonewall, birthplace of former president Lyndon B Johnson.
Our car for the weekend was a beautiful Ferrari 458 Spider, perfect for the late summer sun. The howling exhaust bouncing off the rocky edges of the road, a sublime gear change and handling that is near on perfect. So far so good!
Thursday night saw us attending the Red Bull Puma party at Austin Speed Shop on the outskirts of town. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were in attendance and like true racers they competed in Crazy Carts.
The drivers also battled at making BBQ sauce and competed for the most autographs and photos they could pose for! Live music, cool cars, BBQ and laughs. There’s not much more you would want from a party. We briefly chat to Daniel and it’s clear he absolutely loves Texas; he is buzzing for the weekend ahead and even has a special pair of American inspired Pumas on.
Thursday draws to a blurry close and before we know it it’s time for another function. Friday sees us attending a McLaren owners event at top secret Austin destination the Pershing House. Try to Google it, you won’t find much, but for those who know it’s a seriously luxurious venue in a similar vein to the iconic speakeasy style properties on Rainey Street. On display are two-star customer cars, a stunning P1 and a 650S Le Mans. Fine cocktails and canapes are served alongside live music before our star guest arrives. Jenson Button drops in to tell us about the weekend ahead and what he thinks of Austin. Unsurprisingly, he loves it!
Saturday morning and it’s time to head to the circuit for qualifying, being positioned at T12 means we get to see 70% of the lap and also the cars breaking from 200mph to 60mph, it’s quite a sight. We decide to walk around to see the track from a different angle and sit on the famous grass mound at the end of the start straight. It’s steeper than you think! Qualifying goes the way of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and it’s clear he is in the mood to close the points deficit to his team mate Nico Rosberg. Behind the Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull is the fastest of the rest and also looks up for a great race.
On Saturday night, we skip the Taylor Swift concert that has been talk of the town and head Downtown to Lamberts for more top BBQ food and live music, Austin is known for its live music scene and tonight doesn’t disappoint as The Troubadours are in town from France. Go see them!
Sunday arrives all too soon and we head down to the circuit for a full day of racing. First off is the Masters Historic Grand Prix featuring iconic cars from the late 70s and early 80s. Even though the cars are being driven by ‘gentleman’ drivers they are putting on a great show with some overtaking moves that would put the pro drivers to shame. The facility at Austin is exceptional and the circuit is great for spectators, hopefully figures will improve and the circuit will remain on the calendar for 2017.
Next up is the hotly contended Porsche Supercup, a thrilling race ensues with the top four cars split by just two seconds. All this is just a warm up to the main event though. The build-up is typically American, a fantastic display of big bands, cheerleaders, the national anthem sung live and a military fly-by. It’s great stuff and gets everyone in the mood for the race.
The lights go out and the race is go. Hamilton swoops into the lead hotly followed by Ricciardo who squeezes out Rosberg. For the first section of the race things are looking really good for Hamilton with a chance to close the gap on points. Unfortunately, Verstappen’s car suffers a transmission issue and even though he carefully places the car off the circuit a virtual safety car is deployed and the quick-thinking Mercedes team bring both their drivers in to change tyres. This quick thinking puts them comfortably ahead of Ricciardo who is unable to capitalise on the situation. Those positions remain unchanged to the chequered flag with Alonso grabbing the attention with some great moves late in the race to claim a positive fifth place for McLaren.
In a flash the weekend is almost over, there’s just time to head down to Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar for a wrap party with the Mercedes team. See you next year Austin!
About the Author: Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.