- October 24, 2023

These 7 Things Prove The USGP F1 Race at COTA Is So Austin


We may not be the home of the only F1 grand prix in the U.S. any longer, but we’re still the only city with a permanent Formula 1 track in the States. After 12 years, things are still going strong out at Circuit of the Americas! And though it’s an international sport, there are so many things that happen during race week that are So Austin.

These are the most So Austin things we saw at the USGP F1 race in 2023.

1 – Girlstart

The Austin nonprofit Girlstart was recognized at this year’s USGP with their logo on the McLaren F1 car! The Smartsheet logo on both McLaren race cars was replaced by the woman-led organization that focuses on increasing middle-school girls’ interest and engagement in STEM. Girlstart participants got meet and hear from MIT engineer turned Emmy-nominated science TV host, author and speaker Emily Calandrelli (aka @thespacegal). And that’s not all! They also got to perform some STEM tasks with McLaren STEM ambassador Chelsea Dorset. But here’s the best part – the girls got to go out to the track to see the car for themselves and meet McLaren driver Lando Norris!

2 – Daniel Ricciardo

We can always count on Daniel Ricciardo for some Texas sized fun. Whenever he’s in the ATX, he dresses like a Texan, talks like a Texan, and parties like a Texan. To celebrate his Enchante Records clothing line, the F1 driver hosted a pop-up at Antone’s, followed by a party that featured a performance by the band Caamp. When we chatted with him at the event, we told that so many people ask about him when race week rolls around. He replied that he thinks of himself as an “honorary Austinite.”

F1 Drivers
From L to R: Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez, Max Verstappen.

3 – Jack’s Garage

Another party that had us feeling the Austin love was Jack’s Garage: A Pitstop Experience. After opening performances by local bands THEBROSFRESH and Briscoe, Grammy winner Black Pumas played an intimate set to just a few hundred people at The Sunset Room.

Black Pumas at The Sunset Room on October 22, 2023.

4 – Eats and Drinks

New this year in the Fan Zone was the Old Pro Smoke Show. The elevated food pop-up featured fare from various restaurants including Austin Oyster Company and Nixta Taqueria. The drink menu included Texas brands Balcones, Tequila 512, and Tito’s. We also spotted Tequila 512 and Southside Flying Pizza stands near Turn 15.

5 – Austin Music Scene

In addition to the bands that played parties already mentioned, there were a variety of musicians that performed at the track. We danced to beats provided by DJ Cassandra at Club SI. And in the Fan Field, race fans were treated to performances by Nakia, Sir Woman, Bidi Bidi Banda, and more.

6 – Texas Touches

While everyone may not get be able to access the Paddock, many of you may have seen the Texafied decor at the entrance in your social media feeds. Adorned with larger than life cowboy boots, a NASA astronaut, cacti, and neon signs saying “Yeehaw” and “Howdy,” drivers and team members were greeted in lone star style when arriving at COTA.

F1 Paddock

7 – Pre F1 Race Entertainment

Before lights out, there were a plethora of Austin/ Texas tie-ins happening on the track. There was live music from the Texas Longhorns band, Austin native Dylan Gossett singing the national anthem atop the COTA tower, and dueling pianos at the front of the grid.

Finally, though there are no Texas ties when it comes to Ferrari Trento (except that you can buy it here), we’d be remiss if we didn’t give the official toast of Formula 1 a shout out. You may recognize the name as it’s what the winners spray during the podium celebration. Or perhaps you saw CEO Matteo Lunelli on KVUE, or CBS Austin, or FOX 7. It’s always fun to watch him gush about the sparkling wine. You see what we did there?

Interested in what celebrities were spotted at the USGP 2023? Check out this list!