I attended the USGP Formula1 race at COTA this November and was pretty pleased with the way everything was run.
The start with the tickets to the event was not auspicious. Tix ordered through Ticketmaster were not distributed until the week before the event and no news of when they would be sent had many people worried that they would not receive them in time before leaving to go to Austin. I got mine in time, but not without a bit of worry. I don't know if this was the fault of Ticketmaster or the track. I will say that the track made provision for people who had left home before receiving their tickets (the case probably with many overseas visitors) to pick them up at will-call even if the tix had been sent to them. Another nice touch was to trade the typical computer-style Ticketmaster tickets for the nice-looking souvenir tickets at conveniently-place info tents at the track. My only other complaint about the tickets was the fact that Ticketmaster charged $15 to MAIL them to me by regular mail. That was in addition to the other handling fees they usually charge. Please, COTA, next year have them available when they're ordered, or better yet, have a print-at-home option.
As far as the prices and availability of hotels in the Austin area, that's not really the fault of COTA. With 120,000 people coming to the race and 100,000+ attending a UT-Okla State football game, you know the hotels are going to profiteer. However, next year the race will be on a non-game weekend and there should be a little more availability.
The transportation system, imo, was handled well. Yes, $100 a day to park at the track is a lot, but there is limited space there. And why would you want to drive to the track when you could take a nice, air-conditioned bus from downtown for $5 or park in a satellite lot and be bused in for $10 or $20? The bus shuttles were great, with the only problem being the half-mile walk from the shuttle stop to the track. It was okay on the way there, but was like a "death march" after the 90-degree day at the track. There must be some way to move this closer to the gates.
Food and drink options were decent. Prices were high, but not really out of line for a major sports event or concert. Ditto for souvenir stands, which were high-priced, but sold at the same prices that these items are sold for online all year.
Sightlines for the race from both grandstands and general admission areas were excellent for a road-racing circuit. Somebody said it was better at Indy. Well, yeah, but that's a banked oval, which means you can see the whole track from most spots.
Bus transit around the course was great, important for a spread-out 3-mile long track.
Big screen TV's to see the race were spread around the track and worked well.
Given how hot the day was (actually a record for the area), a little more shade would have been nice, but there was some and I was satisfied with this aspect.
The free concert each day after the racing was nice, and I wanted to stay and see Pitbull after the race, but it was just too darn hot.
Fan Fest in downtown Austin was also a lot of fun. I'm not sure if COTA had anything to do with that.
In all, a great weekend, and I'll be back.
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