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United States Grand Prix: Fan events of note beyond on-track activity

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This week, Formula 1 heads to Austin, for the fourth time the United States Grand Prix will be held at Circuit of The Americas.

As ever, beyond the on-track activity – the usual five on-track sessions plus Porsche Supercup and Masters Historic Racing – there will be plenty to do from Austin.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the events of note to hit either at the track or in the surrounding Austin area (full link outs here from COTA directly, and from Austin Race Events):

FAN FORUM/FAN FEST

The last two years have seen the FOTA Forum at COTA but with FOTA disbanded, that’s no longer on the cards. No worries, though.

The COTA Fan Forum on the Bud Light Stage at the Rainey Street COTA Fan Fest location kicks off the weekend on Thursday evening, at 5 p.m. Manor’s Alexander Rossi highlights the drivers scheduled to attend, along with Felipe Massa (Williams), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) and Nico Hulkenberg (Force India). Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner is also scheduled to attend.

It leads straight into COTA Fan Fest, which will have action at the Bud Light Stage Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. or midnight (11 p.m. Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday) and throughout the day on the weekend. Participating venues in Fan Fest are linked here.

BUXTON’S BIG TIME BASH, 4.0

One of the highlights of the weekend, by far, is the annual Buxton Big Time Bash, presented by The Austin Grand Prix and this year benefiting both Meals on Wheels and the Wilson Children’s Fund. Full details are linked here, via The Austin Grand Prix, and also via a post we did last week when the fourth annual #BBBASH was announced.

Past posts from the last two years on MotorSportsTalk are linked here:

AUTOGRAPH SESSIONS

Get a wristband at the Wristband Booth in the Grand Plaza, and have your chance to get an autograph from a member of the F1 grid. All autograph sessions will take place at the Austin360 Amphitheater, adjacent to the Grand Plaza.

The times:

Friday:
• 12:25 – 12:50 – Sauber F1 Team

Saturday:
• 3:30 – 3:50 – Infiniti Red Bull Racing
• 4:30 – 4:55 – MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 Team
• 4:55 – 5:20 – Scuderia Ferrari
• 5:05 – 5:30 – McLaren Honda
• 5:35 – 6:00 – Scuderia Toro Rosso
• 5:35 – 6:00 – Williams Martini Racing
• 6:00 – 6:25 – Q&A Haas F1 Team

Sunday:
• 10:00 – 10:20 – Lotus F1 Team
• 10:30 – 10:55 – Sahara force India
• 10:50 – 11:15 – Manor F1 Team

*Note schedule is subject to change. Download the COTA App for the most up-to-date info – iPhone App or Android App.

SENNA HALL OF FAME COLLECTION

Vehicles from the late, great Ayrton Senna’s career – from 1983 to 1994 – will be on display at the new Downtown Paddock in Austin throughout the weekend, 304 E. Cesar Chavez St.

FAN TRACK INVASION

This one has the potential to be special, if Lewis Hamilton does in fact capture the World Championship. Fans can access the track via the following gates from 4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.:

Main Grandstand East, Main Grandstand West, Turn 1B, Gate 15, Turn 12, Turn 16 Pedestrian Bridge, Turn 19

ELTON JOHN AND HIS BAND CONCERT

It’s the post-race entertainment this year, and starts at 6 p.m. after the race on Sunday.

Again, full link outs are available here from COTA directly, and from Austin Race Events, for all the things you may want to take in during the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Champion Marc Marquez leads MotoGP into virtual world Sunday

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During its layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, MotoGP will become the latest racing series to enter the virtual world.

The MotoGP Virtual Race will be held at 9 a.m. ET Sunday, March 29 with 10 riders. It will be streamed on several platforms, including the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel. Reigning series champion Marc Marquez is among the riders in the field.

The premier class of MotoGP has yet to hit the track this season as its opener was canceled and the next three races were postponed, including the Grand Prix of the Americas being moved from April 5 to Nov. 15.

Several other racing series have tried online racing in recent weeks.

IMSA held a “SuperSaturday at Sebring” March 21 in place of the postponed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. NASCAR started its Pro Invitational Series last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will continue Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar kicked off its six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge with a Saturday race at Watkins Glen International that was won by Sage Karam.