As the long-awaited United States Grand Prix nears at Austin's Circuit of the Americas, the track seems closer to securing a deal that could keep the race in the city for another decade.
Formula 1 released its provisional 2022 schedule on Oct. 15, and as it has every year since 2012, COTA was included as the Grand Prix's destination. But a subtle asterisk—which says the race is "subject to contract"—shows that another 10-year-deal still hasn't been finalized for the circuit.
COTA has yet to clinch another decade-long contract as its current one ends this year. It's an issue that hasn't gone unnoticed by the circuit's biggest fans and critics alike.
While COTA chair Bobby Epstein has expressed confidence that another contract will be renewed, sources have told Austonia that the contract could be in jeopardy. And new threats—including a Miami track, legislative issues regarding $25 million in taxpayer funding and more—are making the path murky for the United States' first purpose-built F1 venue.
Many believe that the pending contract comes down to track conditions. After MotoGP's first race in the United States for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas on Oct. 3, multiple drivers complained about bumps on the track. Championship leader Fabio Quartararo called the track a "joke" after the race, while others called for the entire track to be resurfaced.
In a Facebook group, fans believe contract issues to be traced back to bumps on the track.
COTA was partially resurfaced in 2019 and 2020 but has failed to resolve certain bumps in the road.
Time's up for more races than just COTA—Italy's Imola track also faced an expired contract but extended its deal to 2025 on Oct. 15. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Singapore Grand Prix and Miami races are also on the preliminary schedule subject to contract. The Miami Grand Prix, set to christen its track on May 8, 2022, is awaiting a finalized contract as well as FIA homologation, which officially gives a track a "license to race."
Losing COTA would be a big loss to Austin and its purpose-built track, but it could also be a big loss to F1. With up to 350,000 expected to come to the weekend-long fest, Epstein promises "the biggest event on the planet this year"—and fans are more excited than ever.
In 2018, Sean Bratches, managing director of F1's commercial operations, told the Associated Press that the organization hopes to stay at COTA "for many years to come." With its inclusion on the 2022 list, perhaps that message still holds true.
The new schedule comes days before the USGP returns to the track after not happening last year due to COVID. The long-awaited event will kick off on Friday and will include performances from Billy Joel, weekend-long entertainment and F1's Hamilton vs. Verstappen rivalry at Sunday's big race.
If the contract is secured, the world will focus on Austin once again for another USGP come October 23, 2022.
COTA did not reply to requests for comment from Austonia.Enjoying Austonia? Signup for our newsletter to get daily Austin news, straight to your morning inbox!
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Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.
As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.
“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”
Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.
“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”
Actually, a purr-fect idea.
Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.
At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”
Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.
“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”
Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.
“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”
Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.
“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”
Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.
“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”
And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.
“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”
Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.
“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”
We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.
This restaurant claims to have the most authentic South Indian food, and from what I've heard, the claims might be true! Their menu features the traditional South Indian dishes of Idlis, Vadas, a variety of Dosas, and more.
If you're looking for an Indian and Tex-Mex fusion cozy restaurant, then look no further! Nasha on East 7th Street prides itself on its specialty margaritas, Tikka con Queso, Biryani, and more creative dishes!