“A brunette, a blonde, a baker, and a NASCAR fan walk into a race track. No this isn’t the lead for a joke, this describes my weekend with my husband and friends at 2015 Lone Star Le Mans at The Circuit of the Americas in the great city of Austin, Texas.”
Finally, my favorite weekend of the year in Texas had arrived, it was the weekend of Lone Star Le Mans at the incredible Circuit of the Americas. But why is this my favorite weekend of all? Because I love hearing the roar of the engines, the smell of race fuel, burnt tires, and seeing cars that I could only dream of owning all in one place. If you loved all of this, then this would be your favorite weekend too.
Lone Star Le Mans is a two day event named after the State of Texas and the world-famous endurance race held in Le Mans, France. This high-level event combines multiple racing series into one adrenaline-packed event. Throughout Friday and Saturday series like the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the WEC (World Endurance Championship) took it to the rolling esses and long straights of the Circuit of the Americas.
While it’d be extremely complex to go into detail about what differentiates the Tudor United SportsCar Championship from the WEC race machines, the range of race cars at this event is vast, as there is everything from Honda Civics and Mini Coopers, to Audi, Toyota and Porsche prototype cars, which are extremely technical and powerful purpose built race cars. The variety is truly what makes these races interesting, but my personal favorite is seeing cars like Ferraris and Aston Martins that we normally associate with being status symbols and car show fixtures being put to work, and doing what they were truly designed to do!
One of the many things that truly sets this even apart from other racing events that people attend; is the experience that even basic general admission ticket holders get to enjoy. The Circuit of the Americas has done an incredible job at giving all fans excellent access to the event and their facilities, compared to other venues — where buying a general admission ticket means being relegated to a specific and sometimes rather uneventful part of the track.
Once we arrived at the track we headed straight for the paddock, which is where the teams have store and work on their cars before and after the race, as well as have their pit boxes where cars stop for tires and fuel during the race. The paddock offers great opportunities to get up and close to the drivers and even talk to them, most who are more than happy to sign an autograph or snap a selfie. This experience alone amazed my friend Ryan, who before this race had only attended NASCAR events, he was quickly dumbfounded at how close we were able to get to the race cars and drivers, and told me that at a NASCAR event you’d have to have a special VIP pass to be able to get that close. Walking the paddock really gives you an appreciation for the care, hard work and dedication that goes into running a world-class racing team.
I was really happy to see this year’s Lone Star LeMans being marketed toward attracting families and younger fans into the sport, in fact they had free admission for kids 15 or younger (with each paying adult). In addition, they set up a really cool ferris wheel on site, which I thought was neat and it gave families with kids just another activity to do while at the track. It’s quite nice of The Circuit of the Americas to do a little extra things for the young racing fans.
How to make the best of your racing trip
My husband and I attend three races a year at The Circuit of the Americas, and with that experience we have learned how to make the most out of a race without cleaning out the bank.
Here are my top 5 tips for making the most out of your time at the track:
- The track will only allow you to bring in one sealed bottled of water, but there is no limit on how many ounces that bottle can hold. Bottled water at the track is $4 a bottle, so we normally bring in a gallon jug of water from the grocery store along with a camelback when we get through the gates. Camelbacks aren’t cheap, but neither is purchasing an $4 bottle of water every time you get thirsty, which in the Texas heat will be often. The gallon water jug should be enough to keep you well hydrated during your visit.
- General admission is the most affordable ticket at $40-$69 each (depending on practice or race day), and it’s also the most enjoyable way to watch the race as it lets you can wander around the track and plant yourself at various locations for a change of scenery. Anywhere there is a patch of grass with a view is yours. I personally have never purchased seats at a race because I enjoy having the option to change corners if I please, plus it is way more friendly on the wallet. General admission is normally half the cost of the discount seats.
- When the Texas sun is beating down on you, the bridge at turn 15 is the best kept secret. It almost pains me to give this away, but if you want a view of three turns and relief from the sun, this is the perfect spot. It’s also where we tend to spend most of our time during the hottest hours of the day, and so should you. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Bring a blanket, beach towel, outdoor chair or folding studio seats, as it will make sure to keep your butt off the hot concrete or grass, and make watching the race much more enjoyable and comfortable.
- Come in with a full belly. Like any sports event, the food is pricey, and I mean $12 for two-small-tacos pricey. Eat up before the race so you can avoid having to buy every meal there.
Overall the Lone Star Le Mans is a world-class event that is usually associated with world-famous tracks around Europe and Asia, so it is an absolute pleasure to have this race in Austin, and in the United States in general. So get your water jug, sunscreen, and head out to the track, because for just a few bucks, you’ll go home with a few autographs, posters, and memories that you and your family will want to relive the next time they come!
I personally won’t forget walking the paddock next to the likes of ex-Formula One superstar Mark Webber, the 24 Hours of Le Mans winning Porsche and Audi prototypes and sharing may cool stories with fans around the track. I hope to see you next year at Lone Star Le Mans building your own memories with your family and friends!
Photography by Mike Gonzalez
Kari. “When not tinkering on my car, I’m endlessly rambling about auto-news to my very patient husband who tolerates it for hours on end. I’ve owned everything from a Tacoma to a Benz, and I now have a 2014 Scion FR-S to play with, which you may spot at The Circuit of Americas parking lot while I’m yelling at the top of my lungs.”