Circuit of The Americas (COTA)
Austin, Texas, USA
MotoGP Grand Prix racing has a long history of great races in the US, at legendary tracks of Daytona, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. The US has also had some great champions, Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Randy Mamola being amongst the best riders to have competed in Grand Prix racing.
The Race Circuit
In 2013, the impressive new Hermann Tilke-designed 5.513 kilometres 'Circuit of The Americas' in Austin, Texas, joined the MotoGP calendar and become an instant hit - with its cutting edge facilities and a capacity for 120,000 fans.
Construction of Circuit of The Americas began in 2010. It was completed in 2012.
It is also home to the only Formula 1 race in the country. The United States Grand Prix and Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas — and has played host to the FIA World Endurance Championship, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Pirelli World Challenge and more.
Today, COTA contributes almost $1 billion in economic impact to Central Texas through increased tourism. The Circuit has helped make advances in educational and scientific fields, including solar car technology, as well as racing and consumer automotive technology.
The circuit is one of the most varied on the GP circuit, with a mix of fast straights and tight hairpins, with most sections mirroring at least some parts of famous tracks around the world.
The circuit has 20 corners with 9 right turns and 11 left turns, counter clockwise circuit takes advantage of the naturally undulating landscape, including an intimidating 133-foot (41metres) hill at Turn 1 that must be seen in person to be believed, at the end of the home-straight followed by a sharp left. It was designed by German architect and circuit designer Hermann Tilke.
The circuit has more left-hand turns than right-hand ones, placing greater physical demands on the riders whose bodies, particularly their necks, are strained by the G-force as they hurl their bikes around the corners.
From the start line, the drivers climb a gradient of over 11% to the first corner—the highest point of the circuit—with the apex of the corner positioned on the crest of the hill. They descend the hill to navigate a series of fast sweepers modelled on Silverstone's Maggotts Becketts Chapel complex and through a blind corner at Turn 10, taking them to the far end of the circuit and a hairpin at Turn 11. The riders then follow a one kilometres straight back towards the pit and paddock area before entering the final sector of the lap and weaving through a series of corners modelled on Hockenheim's stadium section. This is followed by a downhill, multi-apex corner with limited run-off before the final two corners of the circuit, a pair of left-hand bends that bring the riders back on to the main start-finish straight.
Nestled within the track is Austin360 Amphitheatre, the largest permanent outdoor amphitheatre in Central Texas, and its 251-foot signature observation tower.
Exploring Austin and Texas
Let's take a look at the big city of Austin and surrounding area. There is an energetic buzz about Austin, the Texan state capital which comfortably carries its title of "Live Music Capital of the World". In addition to hosting large music festivals, the city provides locals and visitors with the chance to enjoy excellent live music every night.
You can also partake of great food at one of the city's endless choice of take-aways, fast food outlets, bars, restaurants, or the booming food-truck scene means it's easy to grab a bite to eat when you are on the move.
Austin's waterfront on the Colorado River is a pleasant place to be and its state capitol building is the largest in the U.S. 'Everything is bigger in Texas' as the saying goes and the imposing 1888 built red granite Texas state capitol will make a good subject for your photos.
Elsewhere in Texas, Dallas and Houston have plenty to offer in terms of sightseeing, dining, arts, culture and partying. San Antonio laps has a lot going on, with its landmarks such as the River Walk, the Alamo and the Missions National Historical Park.
Things to do Around Austin.
Visit Lady Bird Lake
Named after the wife of President Lyndon Johnson, Lady Bird Lake is actually a section of the Colorado River that covers 416 acres and has become one of the city's top recreational areas. Although lined with hotels and residential complexes, the majority of its shoreline is open to the public, with miles of excellent trails for pedestrians and cyclists, including the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail and Pedestrian Bridge, which crosses the river and connects downtown Austin with the southern shore. The paths connect many of the city's parks, including Zilker Metropolitan Park, the Town Lake Metropolitan Park's Vic Mathias Shores, Lamar Beach, Butler Shores, Waller Beach, and Eilers Neighbourhood Park. These trails also lead to popular tourist sites near the river, like the Stevie Ray Vaughan Statue, Congress Avenue Bridge, the Long Centre of Performing Arts, and the Barton Springs Municipal Pool. Motorised boats are prohibited. However, on the north shore, the Texas Rowing Centre provides kayak and canoe rentals and lessons, and on the lake's south shore in Zilker Park, the Rowing Dock offers rentals and instruction for paddle-boards, kayaks, and paddle-boats. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available for use on Barton Creek, which is within the park.
The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge
One of Austin's most unique things to do is enjoy the evening flight of the Mexican free-tailed bats that have made the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge their home. The world's largest urban bat colony, up to one-and-a-half million of these insect-devouring critters take to the sky at dusk each evening from March through November. The result is a stunning display as they fly from beneath the bridge and up to heights of two miles in massive formations so they can dine on mosquitoes, moths, grasshoppers, and other flying pests. It can take up to 45 minutes just for the fuzzy mammals to all exit their home, and once the baby bats are old enough, they accompany their mothers on the evening flight.
There are many vantage points from which you can enjoy the sight, with the area surrounding the bridge the most popular. The best vantage point for the bats is to just stand on the Congress Bridge, but there are also the hills to picnic on.
Others enjoy watching from boats on Lady Bird Lake or from the Statesman Bat Observation Centre, which sits at the southern end of the bridge. In conjunction with Bat Conservation International, the centre is an eco-tourism destination, striving to increase awareness of bats and educate the public on their importance where you can learn more about these bats.
State Governor and the Chambers of the Texas Legislature building.
Completed in 1888, the State Capitol and its 22 acres of grounds and monuments are home to the office of the State Governor and the Chambers of the Texas Legislature. Protected as a National Historic Landmark, the building impresses with its dimensions; at 308 feet tall, it ranks as the sixth tallest state capitol, taller even than the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Visitors can stroll the park via the tree-lined path called the Great Walk and admire the numerous monuments, including the Texas African American History Memorial, the Vietnam War monument, a bronze statue of a Texas Ranger, and even a miniature Statue of Liberty that was presented in 1951 by the Boy Scouts of America. The Visitors Centre is located on the grounds and features exhibits about the history of Austin and the state of Texas. Free tours of the Capitol Building are given daily, except holidays. Also of interest is the recently restored Texas Governor's Mansion
The Bullock Texas State History Museum
The Bullock Texas State History Museum tells the state's story through a variety of interesting interactive exhibits, along with audio-visual displays and film. The museum's IMAX theatre shows educational and popular new-release films.
The permanent Story of Texas exhibit is home to artefacts and displays that feature defining events in the state's history, like the preserved hull of the 17th-century La Belle, which was shipwrecked at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Other exhibits and presentations include the fall of the Alamo, Tejano culture, and the history of the Texas oil industry. The museum also hosts many special events throughout the year,
The Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
There are a number of American sculptures at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, which features a number of works by 20th-century sculptor Charles Umlauf. Located in the Zilker Metropolitan Park, the outdoor sculptures are on display among the trees, gardens, and ponds that surround the museum.
Inside, visitors can see more of Umlauf's work in addition to exhibits about the artist's life and displays of personal artefacts and mementos.
The museum also features temporary exhibits of other artists' work and hosts events such as concerts, workshops, and even yoga classes among the sculptures outside.
Take a look from Mount Bonnell view
Of the many things to do outdoors in Austin, is to visit Mount Bonnell, it is one of the most popular places with tourists because of its numerous photo-ops and close proximity to the city centre. It is the highest point in the city, reaching 775 feet high and provides views of downtown Austin and the 360 Bridge. It also looks out across the Colorado River and is the perfect place to take photos of Austin's skyline. Although the lookout deck and pavilion are at the top of 102-stairs, it is not a steep or strenuous climb. On the observation deck many enjoy picnicking while admiring the view.
Getting around this huge state takes some planning. All the major cities have their own airports and hiring a car or motorbike for a good old American road trip is an experience in itself. There are the vast open rolling plains within states such as Kansas and Texas to discover... the list is endless.
Texas is a vast state, the second biggest in the US after Alaska, with over 260,000 square miles to explore. This massive natural playground boasts huge plains, prairies, lakes and dunes. It has beaches stretching over 367 miles of coastline, three mountain ranges higher than 7000ft in the west of the State, and Big Bend National Park for hiking and rafting.
San Antonio and Austin aren't that far from each other, if you stick to the downright dull Interstate 35.
This 272 kilometre trip through Texas Hill Country leaves plenty of time for sightseeing and coffee stops. Plan a pitstop at Canyon Lake on the 2722. There are a total of eight parks around Canyon Lake. Choose any one of them as a lunchtime picnic spot, go for a swim, or indulge in a little bank fishing before heading to the Circuit of the Americas for a great weekend.
The U.S. has many world-famous attractions and monuments including the White House, Disneyland, Time Square, The Statue of Liberty, the Vegas strip, Broadway, Hollywood Boulevard, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State building.
Some of the bigger cities of the United States of America, are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle. Each home to some of the world's best museums and galleries.
If you want to get away into the great outdoors there is even more to see, from the Appalachian ranges to the Great Smoky Mountains; the mighty Rockies, the Everglades of Florida, and the Grand Canyon, to the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River or breathtaking Niagara Falls, Yellowstone and Yosemite National Park, and the huge wilderness of Alaska.
Hungry? No problem!
There are huge amounts of food on offer in Austin. There are plenty of variations on the great American hamburger to try, however, Texas has its own culinary delicacies as well. BBQ is taken very seriously and, unlike in other States, they utilize more beef than pork. A warning to those new in the area - portion sizes are big, often very large!
Tex-Mex combines Mexican food with Texan cuisine. Delicious guacamoles, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, burritos and tamales.
Texans love a pecan pie and the tipples of choice are often sweet iced tea or an ice-cold beer, the 'Lone Star' brand having an army of followers. You can eat whenever you want because 24-hour diners are commonplace.
Did you know?
Colin Edwards and his family live in Texas. He is a former Factory Yamaha MotoGP racer and World Superbike Champion on a Honda, a prolific BT Sports MotoGP presenter and he also owns and runs the Texas Tornado Boot Camp.
Colin Edwards with Valentino Rossi in the 2007 Assen MotoGP race
Edwards built this state of the art facility on 20 acres 40 miles north of Houston, Texas. Throughout the years he has been an instructor at Camp Tornado. Many MotoGP stars have stayed and competed at the ranch.
This is the best "training" motorcycle camp there is with expert tuition on hand from Colin and his team of experts.
Styled like an 18th century "brothel" from the outside, according to Edwards, Texas Saloon is the base of operations for the Texas Tornados Boot Camp. It's where everyone meets, eats, sleeps, showers and cools off between the smorgasbords of activities.
Whether burning lap after lap on one of the three clay TT tracks, one of them even features a lighted 45,000 square-foot metal roof, in case of rain, and for riding after dark, to learning the safe, and hopefully accurate ways to squeeze the trigger on Colin's arsenal of firearms, including Glock handguns, Benelli shotguns and a high-power 50 calibre rifle, or perhaps challenging your new mates to a billiards rack, or round of ping pong, there's plenty of time on your feet. So it only makes sense that you have a cosy space to relax when it's time to eventually kick em' up.
"The reality is, we do not teach anything super extra special," reveals the long-time factory Yamaha MotoGP racer and World Superbike Champion.
"We're not teaching you how to do a double backflip. We're not teaching you how to do a 360 slide.
"We simply show you what's possible. All we really do is ingrain fundamentals and the more solid your fundamentals are, the better off you are as a rider."
For more information visit texastornadobootcamp.com
The 'Lone Star State' gets its name from this former status as an independent nation.
From 1836-1845 Texas was an independent republic, gaining independence from Mexico before joining the United States as the 28th state.
All the action starts Friday 20 April
Race Day Sunday
What will happen? Who'll take the flag? Will Rossi take revenge on Marquez?
We'll have to see how another exciting race unfolds.
My race report will be hot on the heels of the riders taking the flag.
With all the race action, photos and rider interviews.
So come back here and read all about it!