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):


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.


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:


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:

• 12:25 – 12:50 – Sauber F1 Team

• 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

• 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.


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.


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


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.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
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Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”