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.

Getty Images

This week, NASCAR heads for Sin City in Las Vegas for the South Point 400. This is the opening round of NASCAR's version of the playoffs. Sixteen drivers will come to Vegas with a chance to move on and continue their path to a championship. Located just outside Downtown, This track is a mile and a half oval that includes twenty degrees in banking, usually with the Las Vegas heat, the track's surface becomes much more slick. This caused many tire issues last season that took out many contenders including Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott. With temps as high as 100 degrees on Sunday, this should be a factor to watch for.

Last week, Kevin Harvick put a beat-down on the field to go on and win his second Brickyard 400 and his third win of the season. Harvick led a race high 118 laps and was never really challenged until the closing stages after a battle with Joey Logano on a restart in the final few laps. The race was marred by many spectacular crashes including Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones as Brad hit a tire barrier at over 170 miles per hour causing the car to come to a dead-stop instantly. Luckily, no one involved was injured. Overall, many of the contenders were caught up in accidents including teammates Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch. When the smoke cleared, there were also some drivers who had great results including Darrell Wallace Jr who came home third. This was Bubba's best finish since last year's Daytona 500. While many will attribute attrition to why he ran so well it is important to note that he ran around the top 10 for much of the race.

For much of the season, NASCAR's greatest driver Jimmie Johnson has been in the spotlight but for all the wrong reasons and unfortunately this continued at Indy after he was eliminated from playoff contention when he was swept up in a multi car wreck on lap 108. This ends a 14 year streak of Johnson making NASCAR's postseason. While 2019 has been a dreadful year for him, Johnson has been adamant that he crew-chief Cliff Daniels are not done and will be much better come next season. If I could compare this to any other major sport, I would say it is close to what happened with LeBron James missing the playoffs this season with the Lakers. For both athletes, while things may be hard now I think they will be better next season as they both make moves to improve their teams. It will be interesting to watch seven time champion try and play spoiler to help his teammates Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and William Byron compete for a championship.

The NASCAR world was met with some good news this week as well as it was announced that fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto will drive for the Wood Brothers in 2020 in the #21 Menards Ford Mustang, the ride will include resources from Penske racing. The move was met with much surprise as it was announced Tuesday on the Wood Brothers Twitter page. The team's current driver, Paul Menard announced his retirement at the end of the 2019 season. While he won't be racing, Menard and his sponsor of the same name will remain with the team as Paul was gracious enough to suggest they hire DiBenedetto after he had many great results this season driving for Bob Leavine. Even though he will not return to full-time racing in NASCAR, he will continue to race on a part time basis more than likely for Penske racing's Xfinity team. In the grand scheme of things, many people have criticized Paul for his avenue into the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, the one thing people can't say is he and his family haven't done a lot for the sport. While many sponsors have left, Menard and his bright yellow paint scheme have always been around to keep a lot of these competitive teams going, I have to thank Paul for everything he has done for this sport and while his career wasn't perfect he wasn't such a bad race car driver either, he will always be remembered for his victory in the 2011 Brickyard 400 (ironically enough) and qualifying for the chase back in 2014. He will be missed come Sundays on the track

The driver that I have winning this week is Martin Truex Jr. This season, Truex has been fast at times but surprisingly he has kind of flown under the radar when compared to his teammates. While he still has four wins, he's been in a bit of a slump over the past two weeks. At both Indy and Bristol, he has finished 15th and 27th. The results have kind of taken the radar off the 2017 champion but I think this race is where he gets back into the swing of things. Over the last couple races here, Truex has the second highest average finish has led 23 percent of the laps completed. Come Sunday when the green flag drops, Truex and his Camry should be hard to beat.

(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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