Austin, Texas: October 2016

My friend Chris invited me to join him and his girlfriend in Austin, Texas for the F1 Grand Prix.  Austin recently built a new track, circuit of the Americas, and this is the 5th year they have hosted the Grand Prix.  So I said sure, why not?  So I flew to Texas for the weekend.

My first stop on the way to Texas was in the Asiana Lounge where I watched a horrible women’s golf tournament being held in Korea.

United spent the last two months running their Dreamliner instead of the 747, so that was a welcome relief.

….Or so I thought.  Not only was my upgrade denied, but a Chinese tai chi religious tour group was on our flight and they were all thrown into economy plus because they hadn’t booked seats, so I got to sit next to one of them who tried to convert me to their religion by giving me a pamphlet and constantly pointing at it.  K.

First stop in Texas after dropping my bags at our AirBnB was at PTerrys, which is an In n Out wannabe chain that isn’t half bad.

And then of course, beer.

This was our nice AirBnb, two bedrooms and it was a duplex, the owners lived in one side.

Before hitting the races, Jackie found some joint that was rated pretty high so we went and found a taco trailer.  I can’t say taco truck because, well, it was a trailer.

After living off of kimchi and white rice for too long, this was a welcome reprieve.

Ok so.  For this trip we had to take into several considerations, and by “we” I mean Chris and Jackie because really I didn’t do anything other than book my flight and show up.  But since the GP was in town, every hotel room was 20 times more expensive than normal and GOOD LUCK getting a rental car.  So we walked everywhere or used this app thingy that Austin has in place of Uber, and for the GP we took a bus service that they offered.

Once on the bus it was about a 30 minute ride out to the track, where they drop you off a mile from the main entrance and then you have to walk.

So I guess I didn’t realize this until I got to the venue but wow… THEY MONETIZE EVERYTHING!  I mean they even had a Senna booth and he died back in 1994 at San Marino.  Of course he was famous, but still.

And then all merchandise was insanely expensive.

Actually, the entire venue is insanely expensive.  I paid $179 for general admission so that means no seats, and I was only one of 129,000 people in attendance.  Add on the fact that the F1 racing teams themselves make zero money off of the F1 franchise, and rely solely on their sponsors, I mean where does this money go???  Anyway I digress.

One of the key features of the track is the observation deck.  They wanted something like $40 bucks to go up there so we didn’t, but supposedly it’s a really good view.

They have these boxes that you could buy, I think  seat at one was like $2000 or something like that, anyway you can park your porsche or McLaren there.

We ultimately decided to camp out at T1, which is a great spot because you can see the front straight, the pits, and you get to see T1.  So you get to see the start and finish of the race and you can see the most exciting part, everyone trying to do T1 at the beginning of the race.

Saturday was qualifying, which we missed due to tacos, and the vintage F1 race and Porsche Cup race.  So we watched the vintage F1 race and the cup race from that vantage point and got super sunburned.  😀

There was a lot of food and food booths there, so we got giant corn dogs.

The main reason why I said, ok I’ll do the Texas GP was Taylor Swift was playing Saturday night.  I didn’t know this until the event, but this was Taylor’s only concert in 2016 after she finished her 1989 World Tour in 2015.  We… Underestimated how many people would be in attendance.

According to Taylor, who is obviously an authoritative source, 80,000 people were there.

From our vantage point she looked like an ant.

Thankfully the giant jumbotrons showed us every pore on her face.

Getting out of there was a complete… nightmare… and remember we took the bus along with tens of thousands of other people, and from where we were at the main stage it was over a two and a half mile walk to the bus – we finally made it, but of course there was a ton of traffic going back to town because everyone else was leaving at the same time… So it took just shy of an hour to get back.

By the time we reached downtown we were hungry, so we got pizza.

After that we went home (midnight at this point) so we could get to the track early to get a spot.

Well, glad we did because the hill on T1 had 60,000 people on it by the time the race started.  At least, that’s what the announcer said…

Gates opened at 9, we made it by 9:45, and the race started at 2.  So we had 4 hours to wait.  Hahaha

Opening ceremonies.

Starting grid.

During the race.

The team I was rooting for.  McLaren finally teamed with Honda again after a hiatus of many years.  They haven’t been doing too great this year, but even still I’m happy to see them back in the game.

Crazy story on this one – Ferrari is actually stopped, something happened the moment he left pit lane.  Apparently either something got stuck on his wheel during the pit stop or a lug wasn’t tightened all the way and came off once he got going – either way there was a massive screw up during his pit stop, he got a DNF for the race, and the team penalized for letting a car with a problem leave the pits.

Lewis won the race like usual and then the crowd stampeded the pits.

….including us

As Sunday was my last day in Austin (LOL I just got there Friday too) we had to get some Texas BBQ.

This was definitely close to, if not, the best BBQ I’ve ever had.  It may not look like it but it literally melted in my mouth and was a great, wonderful experience.

Last night in Austin so we walked around a bit and got a drink or two, then called it a night as my flight was 7AM the next morning.

The host had a neat little camera so… We of course made use.

And with that it was time to head back to Korea.  I made my upgrade with literally 5 minutes to spare, somehow a few seats opened up and my upgrade cleared.

F1.  Fun, memorable weekend.  I’ll definitely do it again.

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