OFF TO THE RACES

Heading to Austin? Where to eat, where to party, and how to travel in style during Formula 1 weekend 2017

Whether you're going to the race or just looking for the parties, we've got suggestions to make the most of your Formula 1 weekend. Photo by Haley Plotkin

Originally appeared on Culture Map/Austin.

For the fifth year in a row, Formula One rolls into Austin for the United States Grand Prix hosted at Circuit of The Americas. While Austin is no stranger to hosting big-time festivals and world-class events, F1 brings with it a certain kind of international glamour. As a way to welcome out-of-town guests (and give the locals a little love, too), we've prepared a simple guide for getting the most out of your F1 weekend, beginning with Friday's festivities through Sunday's big race

Where to eat
Brunch
Before you head to the racetrack, make a pit stop at Pitchfork Pretty for brunch. Though this relatively new restaurant offers a variety of delicious dishes, we suggest splurging on the fried chicken. On the brunch menu, it appears as part of the Caldo de Pollo Frito, a chicken and cabbage broth with red chile, topped with fried chicken and vegetables. 

Happy hour
Leaving the track in time for happy hour? Grab a seat at the beautiful Grizzelda'sbar and order up a Grizz Mizz, the restaurant's take on a classic margarita. 

Late night 
If you're feeling peckish after a day at the races (or you're entertaining a few European friends in town for the festivities), swing by Justine's Brasserie for a decadent evening. Order a charcuterie board, a bottle or two of Bordeaux, and soak up the sexy atmosphere. Pay close attention and you may see a few F1 drivers sipping bubbles at the table next to you. 

How to get there
Rideshare 
Didn't get a rental car reservation? No big deal. Want to leave the car at home? We're with you. For you out-of-towners, Uber and Lyft have finally returned to Austin after a year-long hiatus. Though, in the spirit of keeping it local, consider downloading the app for Ride Austin, a local nonprofit rideshare. 

Shuttle buses 
If you're staying downtown, the COTA shuttle bus leaves from the Austin Convention Center (Fourth and Trinity streets) and drops passengers off at McAngus Lot, a 15-minute walk from the COTA entrance. Tickets can be purchased from the driver for $20 each way or can be purchased in advance for a discount. Passengers with limited mobility can be dropped off directly at the front entrance for $50 each way. 

Helicopters 
Those wishing to skip the traffic altogether can arrange for a helicopter drop off through HELO Austin. Passengers can take off from HELO's private airport at 10301 FM 969 or arrange for an in-town departure through their hotel concierge. Call 512-350-5102 for more information.

Where to party
The list of Formula 1 parties is considerably smaller than in past years, but luckily Austin has no shortage of places to take a victory lap.

Buxton Bash 
Hosted by veteran NBC Sports reporter Will Buxton, this party promises a slew of special guests and giveaways. One hundred percent of the $10 ticket go directly to Susan G. Komen Foundation. Thursday, October 19 at Clearport (516 E. Sixth St.). Doors open at 7 pm, $10 at the door.

Blu Party ATX 
For the third year in a row, My Yacht Club joins Blu Party ATX for what promises to be a star-studded, Champagne-filled extravaganza. The $150 individual ticket price gets you access to the dance floor and two floors of DJs and the cash bar. Table service, which ranges from $5,000-$8,000 per night, comes complete with bottle service and lounge seating. October 20-22 at Moonfire Lounge/The Vaughn (310 Colorado St.). Doors 9 pm, tickets $150-$8,000.

Go local 
If there is one thing Austinites pride ourselves on, it's knowing where the party is and welcoming pretty much anyone to join in. During past Formula 1 festivities, we've seen celebrities at Jo's Downtown Coffee and chatted with F1 drivers at the White Horse. Oh, and don't forget Pete's Dueling Piano Bar. It's considered a favorite among the Formula 1 set and was where Lewis Hamilton and the Mercedes team celebrated his Formula One world title in 2015.

THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR Ford Ecoboost 500 preview

Martin Truex will try to send his team out in style. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Sunny Homestead-Miami Florida for the final race of the 2018 season, The Ford Ecoboost 500. After 36 weeks of battle, this race decides who will represent the sport as champion. Homestead-Miami  has played host for the season finale for the last 16 seasons. This is arguably the biggest race in all of NASCAR considering what is on the line and there is no better place in the world for it to take place. This track is a mile and a half in length and is known for its 18- degree banking in the corners. Over the years, the track has produced some of the best finishes in recent memory and with everything that’s at stake this week should be an all-time classic.

Last week at Phoenix, Kyle Busch took the checkered flag to officially cement his spot in the championship four. He did so after his brother Kurt Busch was involved in a multi-car crash involving him, Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. In the closing stages of the race, Hamlin entered turn four and got into the side of Kurt Busch causing both to hit the wall bouncing back into Chase Elliott.

Hamlin was criticized for his “lack of respect” for the situation that Busch and Elliott were in contending for a championship. At first glance it was easy to understand why fans were upset but upon further review of the video, it would appear that the track was not maintained properly by NASCAR’s clean up crew.  On NASCAR Race Hub Radioactive segment, Defending champion Martin Truex Jr. was quoted as saying “they didn’t clean up the bleeping track for one thing. Everyone went down there and it was like ice. They just don’t get it.” His Crew Chief Cole Pern responeded by saying “yeah they do, it creates excitement. That’s their plan.”

These are fairly serious allegations but it isn’t so farfetched seeing NASCAR has made some pretty dumb calls regarding track maintenance in the past. For example, last season at Dover, they decided to restart the race without fully cleaning the backstretch. This oversight caused Ty Dillon to spin and collect multiple cars with him in the crash. While it may not be intentional and it is definitely difficult to manage these instances but they are proof that NASCAR could do a much better job at track maintenance and cleaning up the track. Let’s hope they have learned their lesson from last week because it has cost two drivers a chance at a championship.

Of the four drivers, Joey Logano enters Homestead as the only one who has never won a title. He has however made it to the championship race three times including this year in 2018. Each attempt has ended in heartbreak whether it be dropping the car off the jack during a pit-stop in 2014, or being involved in a late race crash in 2016. This year Logano hopes that history won't repeat itself and will finally claim his first championship. If he is to win it, it will have been well deserved seeing how he has an excellent season. This year, Logano has 12 top fives, 25 top-10s and two victories including the win that got him here at Martinsville. While he has lurked in the shadows of his competition, he has consistently been in around the front all season. While Logano has a good chance to win the title, the one variable that he must be weary of are the drivers that he  has upset over the duration of the season including Martin Truex Jr and Aric Almirola. Regardless, Logano looks to have a real shot at winning his first title.

Easily, Martin Truex Jr, enters this race as the sentimental favorite to win the championship. As most fans know, Furniture Row racing will cease operations after this race. Truex and his crew chief Cole Pearn have been the spark that have made this team a championship winning organization and now he has a chance to come back and send his team off with one last championship, This has been a rollercoaster type season for him though and while he has been in contention, Truex has yet to win a race since the announcement of his teams closure. In the end though, I don’t foresee this being an issue at Homestead. This is a track where Truex has struggled although as he has the lowest average finish of the group but he has shown that he can win here. Truex has a lot working against him but he still has a great shot at winning his second title.

After last week’s debacle, Kevin Harvick comes to Homestead with a chip on his shoulder. After his win was disallowed two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway, he looks to come in and prove his doubters wrong by claiming his second championship. If he does pull it off, he has definitely earned it with how incredible he has ran this year. Overall He has 22 top fives and 28 top tens with an average finish of 9.0! In percentages, he has finished in the top 10 in 80 percent of the races this year. This has easily been the most dominant season of his career as he has won more races now than ever before even in his championship winning season in 2014. Come Sunday, Harvick is going to be hard to beat.

While Harvick has had the best season statistically, Kyle Busch has come pretty close to matching the success of his championship rival. This year, Busch has eight wins, twenty-one top fives and twenty-seven top tens, nearly identical to the stats that Harvick has been able to put up. After winning last week at Phoenix, Busch comes to homestead with the most momentum on his side and when you get this 18 team in a rhythm they are hard to catch. Besides no one has made it to Homestead more than Kyle Busch as he has only missed the final round one time since the sport adopted this format in 2014. Look for Busch to be around the top three for most of the day as he looks to clinch his second NASCAR Championship.

Over the past four years that we have seen this format, I think this is easily the best four drivers we have ever seen make it to Homestead. Unlike the previous years, we won’t see a driver who got on a hot streak at the end of the season like we did with Ryan Newman in 2014 or Jeff Gordon in 2015. This is the cream of the crop and that’s why I think this will be one of the most memorable championship battles of all time. I look forward to seeing who gets to hoist the trophy come sunday evening.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com the best website for all NASCAR stats).

 

 

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