COTA offers wider-ranging racing schedule this year


Highlights

Circuit of the Americas hits a high with nine motorsports weekends.

MotoGP in April brings first highlight; IMSA, WEC races spread out.

Central Texas Speedway in Kyle shuts down its operation.

Circuit of the Americas has lined up its most ambitious racing schedule for 2017, starting with a U.S. sports car event this month.

Nine full racing weekends, two more than the previous high, are scheduled, and those don’t include the July 15-17 Corvette Invasion, which will draw thousands of cars from across a multistate region.

The circuit plans to give area residents opportunities to enjoy hands-on experiences. COTA officials said details will be revealed in the next few weeks.

The racing will kick off in three weeks with the SCCA Major, part of the Hoosier Super Tour, March 24-26. The event will bring hundreds of the top U.S. amateur drivers to Austin for a Southern Conference event put on by the Sports Car Club of America.

MotoGP will arrive April 21 for the Red Bull Grand Prix, the third stop — and only one in North America — on the 18-event FIM international motorcycle racing tour.

“That’s annually our second-biggest draw behind Formula One,” COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein said.

Last year the track reported a three-day attendance of 131,881.

For the first time, the circuit will have stand-alone weekends for the main events of the International Motor Sports Association and the World Endurance Challenge.

The IMSA Sports Car Shootout will be May 5-6. Rolex 24 at Daytona winners Jordan and Ricky Taylor plan to race, along with Scott Sharp, who won nine IndyCar races, and Chrisian Fittipaldi, who’s driven in everything from Formula One to NASCAR. The Taylor brothers, who are from Florida, won at COTA last September.

The WEC weekend Sept. 15-16 will include the Lone Star Le Mans, a six-hour race.

“COTA is the only circuit in the world that has all three major international events: Formula One, MotoGP and IMSA/WEC,” said Katja Heim, the track’s chief operating officer. “We’re particularly proud of that.”

The U.S. Grand Prix F1 race weekend Oct. 20-22 coincides with a Texas Longhorns home football weekend (Oklahoma State) and comes just one week in advance of the Mexican Grand Prix.

“We’ve dealt with the football conflict before; it will work out,” Epstein said. “As for Mexico, being one week apart means (F1 teams) will be motivated to clean up and move out faster than they would otherwise. We get the track back sooner, and that’s great. One week different than Mexico shouldn’t affect our crowd.”

COTA’s season will conclude Nov. 10-12 with a new event, the 24H COTA USA, a 24-hour endurance race that’s part of the 24H Series for GT cars, touring cars and silhouettes, meant to resemble cars the average person drives.

Kyle track closes: Area racing enthusiasts lost a grass-roots option as Central Texas Speedway in Kyle closed its doors. The three-eighths of a mile oval opened in 1998 as Thunderhill Raceway. It is looking for a new leaseholder or investors.

AM Racing held the track’s lease in 2016 but did not renew it, according to the Hays Free Press, choosing to devote its full attention to its NASCAR truck series team with local driver Austin Wayne Self. The 20-year-old finished a career-best second last weekend at Daytona.

Harris Hill Raceway in San Marcos remains open, and it largely caters to sports car clubs and motorcycle enthusiasts. It also offers the H2R Challenge Racing Series for members.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

New Yank gets No. 29, and lesson in protocol
New Yank gets No. 29, and lesson in protocol

The symmetry was too hard for Todd Frazier, the grown-up freckle-faced kid from Toms River, New Jersey, to ignore. When Frazier was called up by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011, he was given the uniform No. 21 — the same number worn by Paul O’Neill, the fiery outfielder who helped the Reds win the 1990 World Series before he was traded to the...
Round Rock Express rally falls short in Fresno

Despite scoring five runs in the final three innings, the Round Rock Express fell for the second straight game against the Fresno Grizzlies, 8-7, in California on Saturday. The Express (45-55) scored two runs in the ninth to pull within a run, but three straight strike outs by Jordan Jankowski ended the game. It was Jankowski’s eighth save of...
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield: No Perine, Mixon or Westbrook? No problem
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield: No Perine, Mixon or Westbrook? No problem

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield quickly was checking off the names as if he were giving a presentation to a group of investors. Yes, he’ll have plenty of help at wide receiver. Forget the fact that Dede Westbrook, a fellow Heisman finalist last fall, is gone. There is a bevy of receivers to take his place. “I think we have multiple...
Commitment 101: 2019 four-star quarterback Roschon Johnson
Commitment 101: 2019 four-star quarterback Roschon Johnson

A recruiting class doesn’t start until a quarterback is in the fold. Tom Herman decided to start his 2019 class with a commitment from a quarterback when Port Neches-Groves signal-caller Roschon Johnson pledged to the Longhorns at the Stars at Night camp Friday on campus. Johnson is a four-star dual-threat quarterback ranked No. 14 on The Next...
Commitment 101: Jalen Green, cornerback
Commitment 101: Jalen Green, cornerback

The Texas recruiting class grew to 13 members Friday night when four-star cornerback Jalen Green pledged to the Longhorns. Green, a product of Houston Heights High School, is the first cornerback in the 2018 cycle to commit to Tom Herman’s program. Let’s take a closer look at the No. 9 player on the Fabulous 55, and the newest member of...
More Stories