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.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.