Austin Food and Racing
Ooooh….Austin brings back so many amazing memories. When I think of Austin, I think of Austin food and racing. Austin is home to the COTA Track (Circuit of the Americas) which is a stop where the F1 (Formula 1) racing series stops typically each fall. This is also the one sport my husband really enjoys watching. Austin is also the home to some of the best BBQ you’ll ever have.
How it all started
The first time we experienced Austin food and racing was in 2016 when my husband had some training for work. While there during his training, we toured the COTA track. The tour was incredible. It was a small group of maybe a dozen people who loved racing as much as my husband. The bus stopped multiple times allowing us to experience walking on the track, in the driver pits and we even went up to the podium stand. We were HOOKED after this tour! Planning began to return the following year. We secured our flights and purchased our race tickets. We were SET and starting planning this next adventure.
Fast forward to 2017
Upon arrival in Austin, we had to stop at In & Out Burger on the way to the hotel. If you have not yet been to an In & Out Burger, I HIGHLY recommend trying them. They have one of the most limited menus I have ever seen, but it works for them, and works well! They are always busy and their fans love the freshness of their food. Their menu includes three types of burgers (cheeseburgers, hamburgers and the double double burger). They also have fresh hand cut French fries and creamy shakes. Now of course they do have the “secret menu” that includes variations of burgers and fries that can be fun to play around with and while it may not be all that “secret” it does take a quick google search to find what options there are.
Once we were settled in to our hotel, it was time to prep for the big race. The F1 series draws in fans from all over the world and Austin was even busier than usual. Before the race, there are two days that fans can come to the track to watch qualifying and free practice. Tickets are a bit pricey so we opted for General Admission to save some money. Knowing ahead of time that we would need to bring a camp chair or be prepared to stand, we opted to preorder camp chairs from Walmart online and have them ready for pick up in Austin the day after we arrived.
Off to the track!
We woke up the next day excited to pick up our chairs and head to the race. My husband’s favorite team is Ferrari so we ordered red chairs to show a bit of support. With chairs flung on our backs, we found a great spot on the hill by turn 1 and enjoyed two days of pre-race activities. After Q3 (Qualifying 3) session started on Day 2, I left my husband to secure a spot in line for the Sebastian Vettel scheduled autograph session. He would have preferred I stayed with him but I really wanted this autograph for my husband. He does so much for me and this was a small sacrifice I could do for him. I waited for 3 hours. I had our Ferrari hats and a black sharpie and…COULD. NOT. WAIT! I was going to get the autograph of my husband’s favorite driver!!!
Qualifying ended. More fans arrived. I was standing next to the fence so knew I would secure an autograph. I felt good about it. Then the inevitable happened. Security started showing up and suddenly moved everyone back away from the fence due to a suspicious package that they wanted checked out for everyone’s safety. My heart sank. I was so close and now being told to move away.
I moved away while the area was check. As soon as they gave the all clear, everyone rushed back. I am SO thankful for the one tall man who had been standing next to me who saw me and moved over as he saw me inching my way back up toward the fence. Sebastian came out and worked his way around the fenced in area. He showed up at our area last but he showed up. That’s all that matters. I. GOT. THE. AUTOGRAPH!
Things only get better from here
On race day, course officials had unclaimed seats in the grandstand that they had give-a-ways for. Apparently they do not want empty grandstands during this televised event so they would prefer to give these seats away. During the two days of pre-race activities, there were many photo-op areas. They held a contest on the event app where attendees could enter a contest using pictures taken from the past two days at the photo-op locations to win free grandstand tickets. Thankfully, I had taken pictures at each of these ops so I entered and WON TWO GRANDSTAND TICKETS!
When we picked up our tickets, I saw there was MANY more tickets remaining. I really wanted to find someone else to help so on the prowl we went. We starting looking for people who were carrying camp chairs like us who I thought would appreciate them as much as we would. I saw a young teenage boy and girl with an older man with chairs flung on their backs. I went up and told them of our luck and asked if they wanted me to help them and they excitedly agreed. It ended up being a brother and sister who were taking their dad to this race for his birthday. They sat just behind us in the grandstand and were just as excited as we were.
The race ended with Sebastian Vettel taking second place and we experienced one of the best weekends ever!
Oh Yes.. Austin Food
I have already mentioned the fast food chain, In & Out Burger which is a great fast food joint but this is not the food Austin is known for. Austin is famous for their BBQ and southern fare. Before arriving in Austin, we researched brisket, read reviews and set out to find the best. Not only is Austin an amazing “hip” city with incredible brisket, we also found the best brisket we have seriously ever had. The winner in our own research was no doubt Franklin BBQ.
We arrived at Franklin BBQ four hours prior to their opening to stand in line to ensure we received their famous brisket. There were already at least a couple of dozen people in front of us. It was a fun atmosphere with people playing cards and using camp-style chairs that people bring (and then leave) under Franklin’s covered steps. Within an hour or so of opening, a Franklin’s staff member comes out with samples. They also come out periodically during the wait to update people on which menu items are getting close to running out.
There is so much more to Austin food and racing than F1 racing, and Franklin BBQ, but this is a post and not a book so I will stop here. Just know that the possibilities are endless with things to do and food to eat!
End Note: One we arrived back home from this trip, it was back to healthy eating for us! For my healthy (but still tasty) recipes, head back to our HOME page and navigate from there.