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How to: Get your go-kart on at Austin's Circuit of the Americas

COTA's multi-turn track is more challenging than it looks, says Austonia's Claire Partain. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Few of us will ever feel the thrill of whipping through Circuit of the America's 23-turn track at the 220+ mile per hour speeds of Formula 1 racers. But thrill-seekers still rev their engines at COTA thanks to its go-kart track and ziplining service.


Here's what to expect when go-karting at COTA firsthand from Austonia's Claire Partain.

1. Go for the package deal

(COTA Karting/Twitter)

Schedule ahead of time online. A 10-minute race at COTA's karting track is $35, and tacking on a ride on the zipline is just $5 more. Go big or go home.

2. Get your gear on

Go-karting gear includes a head sock and helmet. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

The track is located just off the COTA Boulevard entrance near the main course. Get to the track before your race is scheduled to start so you can watch the training video and try on a helmet and a head sock, which functions like a ski mask and goes on under your helmet. It's somehow even less cool-looking than it sounds.

3. To the track

Head to the track! Attendees will pick out a kart for you and make sure you're all strapped in. The first round is a slower round, but people start slamming on the gas pretty much immediately.

4. On the track

Track time! (Laura Figi/Austonia)

These go-karts go up to 55 mph, and some turns (including the traffic-inducing second-to-last curve) were kind of tough to navigate. Other than avoiding barriers, the most unexpected obstacle I had was avoiding other go-karters who had crashed. Passing people is exhilarating, but don't be the annoying driver who passes people on a hairpin curve either.

When crashes happen, all of the karts are programmed to sputter and slow down, so don't panic like I did and ask why your kart has stopped going fast. Move to the side and wave your hand to get help if your go-kart malfunctions otherwise.

5. Revel in your victory

(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Karting is a great way to find out who's the Lewis Hamilton of the family. At the end of the race, COTA will email you your results and give a breakdown of your fastest lap times. There's also a podium for those of us who win the race (I got sixth).

5. The zipline

The zipline takes you up above both the COTA and karting track. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

After you've had your taste of adrenaline, get some more at the nearby zipline ride. Unlike traditional ziplines, this route has two seats that take you up and backward before bringing you back down. Grab some quick views of the entire track and hold tightly onto your phone while up top. Other than that, it's a pretty smooth ride.

(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Happy karting!

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