For the first time ever, the Circuit of the Americas in Austin will host the NASCAR Cup Series from Friday-Sunday this weekend.
COTA will host four races, from Lamborghinis to the famed NASCAR Cup Series, for the first time in the Austin arena.
Here's everything you need to know about the races this weekend:
Matthew McConaughey will be grand marshal
The man "starting the engines" will be none other than Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey, who will grand marshal the race for the first time since he took the reins for the Daytona 500 in 2005.
Expect cup races, truck races, and... Lamborghinis?
(Lamborghini Squadra Corse/Twitter)
The weekend's four races will warm up with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which features racecar-style truck drivers duking it out, and the NASCAR Xfinity Series, or NASCAR's "minor league" circuit, will take some practice rounds on Friday
Lamborghinis will also make it into the mix as the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series takes to the track all three days.
Finally, the weekend closes out with the big-ticket NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.
COTA will also host a first-of-its-kind race in the NXS Pit Boss 250.
A new race—NXS Pit Boss 250
The NXS Pit Boss 250 will take its first turns around the track at COTA. NASCAR's minor leaguers will take to the track once again for the real deal Saturday for the winding course of the Pit Boss 250. Expect rising stars including Ty Gibbs, son of NASCAR driver Coy Gibbs and grandson of NASCAR and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs, and Jeffery Earnhardt or Dale Earnhardt fame.
Who's who at the Cup
Bubba Wallace 🤝 Michael Jordan— Front Office Sports (@FOS) February 14, 2021
For last year's Daytona 500, Wallace was racing with Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 Chevrolet.
This year, he will pilot the No. 23 Toyota co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. pic.twitter.com/t87H7r6D3w
Michael Jordan has swapped basketballs for wheels and is paired up with NASCAR Cup winner Denny Hamlin, who has selected Bubba Wallace as his new team's first driver. Wallace is currently the only Black driver competing in the Cup Series.
Meanwhile, Mr. Worldwide, also known as Pitbull, has teamed up with Trackhouse Racing founder Justin Marks, who will see Daniel Suarez as their team driver.
Chase Elliott, the 25-year-old son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, was the third-youngest driver in NASCAR history to win a Cup Series Championship last year, and he's back in business for COTA.
Campgrounds open on Thursday at 9 a.m.
Friday will feature practice sessions from the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Series (12:45 p.m.), the Camping World Truck Series (2:05 p.m.) and the Xfinity Series (3:05 p.m.).
Saturday will see the first real races, with the Truck Series beginning at 12 p.m., the Xfinity Series Pit Boss 250 at 3 p.m. and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Race 1 at 6 p.m.
Sunday brings out the big guns. The Super Trofeo Race 2 will begin at 11:10 a.m., while the grand finale in the NASCAR Cup Series Grand Prix will begin at 1:30 p.m.
Three-day general admission passes start at $99, while reserved seats begin at $125 for the weekend. Three-day tickets are $10 for kids 12 and under.
Tickets can be purchased at NASCARatCOTA.com, by calling the ticket office at (833) 450-2864, or by downloading the NASCAR at COTA app.
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As summer temperatures continue to increase, so does Austin's "Party Island"—a hundreds-strong army of kayakers and paddle boarders who gather each weekend in the middle of Lady Bird Lake.
Born from the pandemic, the swarm of paddleboarding partiers has continued to grow each summer and can be seen from the nearby Lamar Boulevard Bridge. And while "Party Island" certainly lives up to one half of its name, it's not actually an island at all: instead, it's located at a shallow sandbar near Lou Neff Point.
With beers, burgers from portable grills and even DJ turntables in hand, more friends and strangers continue to beat the heat in new ways at the distinct Austin hangout.
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.