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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The Austin Police Department is investigating a suspicious death near Waterloo Park on Thursday night.
At the intersection of 12th and Red River streets, police received multiple calls at around 8:40 p.m. about a man covered in blood running in the roadway. Police say the man had potentially been stabbed. Austin-Travis County EMS transported the injured man to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
No suspect is in custody at this time, and police did not reveal any suspect information in a late-night media briefing.
APD is asking anyone with information on this incident to contact Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS or the homicide tip line at 512-477-3588.
Police said this was the second homicide incident they responded to in less than 24 hours.
By Samuel Stark
Those of us who have braved the journey to find parking on South Congress Avenue during peak hours know it is not for the faint of heart.
You might be circling, searching for an open spot for what feels like hours. Euphoria fills your spirit when you think you have finally found that perfect spot. But almost as quickly as your optimism ascended, it dissipates as you realize there is an almost inconceivably small car scooched all the way up to the curb. Your journey continues.
The Transportation Department is aware of the parking challenges in the area and is ready to take some steps based on recommendations that came from a study of the parking in the South Congress District, coordinated by the Downtown Austin Alliance.
“(South Congress is) experiencing the issues that happen when you grow businesses within a district: Everybody wants to go there,” Jason Redfern, division manager at the Transportation Department, told the Monitor. “And now we have to employ those tools to better manage all the parking and interest within that district,” he added.
The South Congress District parking study was split into two phases. Phase one aimed to diagnose the problems through data collection and analysis, and phase two laid out strategies to mitigate them.
The study found that many cars stay parked in the South Congress District, particularly on South Congress Avenue, for extended periods, sometimes beyond eight hours. Further, for the drivers who are violating parking rules, there is limited enforcement due in part to a lack of resources to fund enforcers.
Also, of the 5,400 parking spaces they tallied in the area, nearly 40 percent of the spots available at peak hours go underutilized, while spots on South Congress Avenue stay filled.
One of the study recommendations the Transportation Department is currently going forward with is the establishment of South Congress District as a Parking and Transportation Management District, a defined area that would benefit from the addition of parking meters. If a PTMD is approved in this area, 51 percent of the revenue collected from the parking meters would go to funding transportation-related projects within the district, Redfern said. See the proposed South Congress PTMD boundary here.
These parking districts already exist in the Austin area, including one on the east side.
“We’ve leveraged dollars (from) the East Austin area (PTMD) to help finish an intersection improvement project where they’re going to put in ADA-compliant ramps,” Redfern said.
Though eventually the Transportation Department will put meters into the South Congress District if the PTMD is approved, Redfern said they want to ensure other issues, such as simplifying and standardizing residential permit parking, are in place before they add them.
The parking study found that currently in the South Congress District there are 13 different types of residential parking permits, which have varying restrictions. The study authors point out that these different types of permits are “confusing” and suggest that this contributes to the underutilization of available spots, including for employees of South Congress establishments, outside of South Congress Avenue.
Before the PTMD strategy in the South Congress District is adopted, the plans will be presented before the Urban Transportation Commission and the Mobility Committee. The plan will then be presented to City Council, which will vote on it later this year, Redfern said.
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