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Formula 1 racing in Austin with kids

Survival Tips for Formula 1 Racing in Austin with Kids

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Formula 1 racing. You either love it or hate it.

Whether to bring your kids along for the ride is a personal choice that depends on several factors: your budget, your children’s ages and most importantly, their levels of interest. My husband took our daughter last year when she was 11 and she had a blast. Disclaimer: Three of her closest friends also attended.

Formula 1 racing has called Austin home since the inaugural race in 2012. The race takes place at the Circuit of the Americas, which is located in southeast Austin about nine miles from the airport. For GPS lovers, the street address is: 9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard, Austin, TX 78617.

The 3.4-mile long circuit track was custom built for Formula 1 racing following a lot of hoopla and controversy surrounding state and local financial incentives. The venue is huge with the capacity for more than 120,000 fans, and the event is generally well-organized.

Formula 1 racing in Austin with kids - Circuit of the Americas overview

Nice view of Formula 1 racing from the Grandstands in Austin, Texas.

So, whether you are local thinking about giving Formula 1 a spin or a die-hard racing fan flying in for the weekend, follow these five tips to make the most of your experience:

1. Research Formula 1 tickets options and buy online

For starters, buy your tickets online in advance. General Admission tickets for Sunday only (the big race) are $99, while Sunday-only seats on the bleachers range from $249-$299. General admission for children under age 2 is free, but all seats in the grandstand require a paid ticket.

For all the details on the pros and cons of different seating options and detailed prices, visit the Circuit of the Americas website. Ask around for discounted tickets. Discounted and free tickets were available for certain public servants and military. If you buy General Admission seats, be sure to bring a blanket or collapsible chairs and plan in advance where you want to sit. Turn 1 is a highly coveted spot.

Tip: In 2015, Doors open at 8 am on Friday and Saturday and 8:30 am on Sunday.

2. Take the shuttle

You can drive your own vehicle and park with a pre-purchased parking pass or try and arrange a taxi or Uber ride, but do yourself a favor and take the shuttle. Try and get dropped off downtown near the Austin Convention Center so you can hop on one of the shuttle buses to the Circuit of the Americas.

Shuttle tickets can be purchased online in advance or onsite at the Austin Convention Center. The shuttle is convenient and efficient, but plan to arrive early (about two hours before you want to arrive at the Circuit of the Americas). Once you get to the venue (about a 20-25 minute drive from downtown), be prepared to walk some distances or take a pedicab.

Tip: In 2015, the Circuit of The Americas box office will be located in the Grand Plaza, near Lot B and Turn 15.

Formula 1 racing in Austin with kids

Mom, can I get a Ferrari when I turn 16?

3. Pack a well-stocked backpack

This year’s Formula 1 races in Austin are scheduled for October 23-25, 2015. Weather during this time of the year can be somewhat unpredictable. It may quite warm. Keep your eye on the weather forecast and wear light colors and pack a poncho just in case. Lather on the sunscreen and drink water throughout the day.

Tip: Bring plenty of sealed bottled water (coolers are not allowed), sunglasses, ear plugs, hats and a small umbrella in your backpack.

4. Brace for Sticker Shock

The cost of food and beverages at Formula 1 is exorbitant so be prepared. A hamburger costs about $20, while beers run $10- $15. There are plenty of tempting treats for children, so you may want to establish a budget in advance unless you want to bleed money. There are also several paid kid-oriented activities, such as mechanical bulls.

Tip: Outside food is technically forbidden, but you can slide a few discreet snacks in your backpack and pockets to keep you and kids fueled throughout the day.

5. Be prepared for adult-oriented post-race performances

A big part of the Formula 1 experience is the live concert that starts immediately after the race’s award ceremony. This year Elton John is the headliner. In years past, the acts were somewhat less family-friendly (Pit Bull, Kid Rock). Be prepared for expletives and the possibility of risqué dancing stage performances.

Formula 1 racing in Austin with kids - post-race concert

The post-game concert is included in the price of Sunday General Admission.

Where to Stay:

It is essential to book a room in the Austin area as far as one year in advance of Formula 1 weekend. Hilton Austin is a stone’s throw from the Austin Convention Center and an ideal spot to use as your home base during Formula 1 weekend. The hotel is close to the shuttle stop, plenty of restaurants and free downtown concerts. But be prepared and book as far in advance as possible!

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A self-proclaimed Jersey Girl (with a soft spot for Jon Bon Jovi), Amy currently resides in Austin, Texas with her husband and 11-year old daughter. She picked…

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