The Circuit of The Americas is a grade 1 FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile aka the International Automobile Federation) motor racing facility located in Austin, Texas, on the southeastern periphery of Austin city limits, in Central Texas.
Spanning 3.427-miles, the Circuit Of The Americas plays host to the Formula One United States Grand Prix and the Motorcycle Grand Prix of The Americas, a round of the FIM Road Racing World Championship.
It previously hosted the Australian V8 Supercars, the American Le Mans Series, the Rolex Sports Car Series, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The final plan of the circuit was released on September 1, 2010, showing a design inspired by the European tradition of sculpting the circuit to the contours of the land. The design draws from several European Formula One circuits, including a recreation of Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence, Hockenheim's arena bends, and a replica of Istanbul's Turn Eight. Other corners were loosely inspired by the Senna 'S' at Interlagos and the Österreichring's Sebring-Auspuffkurve.
A feature of the circuit is a deliberate widening of corners, to encourage drivers to follow multiple racing lines. A similar feature was used at the Buddh International Circuit in India, where the circuit widens on the approach to certain corners.
From the start line, the drivers climb a gradient of over 11% to the first corner—the highest point of the circuit—with the apex of the corner positioned on the crest of the hill. They descend the hill to navigate a series of fast sweepers modeled on Silverstone's Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex and through a blind corner at Turn 10, taking them to the far end of the circuit and a hairpin at Turn 11.
The drivers then follow a 0.62-mile straight, back towards the pit and paddock area before entering the final sector of the lap and weaving through a series of corners modeled on Hockenheim's stadium section. This is followed by a downhill, multi-apex corner with limited run-off before the final two corners of the circuit, a pair of left-hand bends that return the drivers to the main straight.
Bordered by the track on three sides, the Grand Plaza is a 20 acre space designed by Miró Rivera Architects of Austin, Texas that includes a large reflecting pool, lawn, and varying landscape zones.
A promenade along the north side of the Grand Plaza hosts concessions, retail, restroom facilities, and entrances to spectator seating. From the southeast end of the Grand Plaza, two pedestrian bridges cross over turns 16 and 3 to provide access for visitors to other areas of the circuit complex.
The Circuit of the Americas features a 251 foot observation tower that was also designed by Miró Rivera Architects and built by Patriot Erectors as a landmark for the venue. The structure of the tower consists of an elevator hoist-way surrounded by a double helix staircase of 419 stairs, both of which lead to an observation platform that is 230 feet above ground level.
The platform provides a 360-degree panorama of the circuit, as well as views to downtown Austin, Texas. The observation platform, which is accessible to the public for an admission fee, can accommodate up to 70 visitors and features glass railings and a partial glass floor. In addition, a "veil" consisting of 18 bright red steel tubes runs nearly the full height of the tower, acting as a canopy for both the observation platform and the stage below. The design of the observation tower was inspired by the visual imagery of sports cars and movement, and the red color was selected to mimic the streaks of lights trailing racecars at night.
On July 23, 2012, Circuit of the Americas announced a booking agreement with Live Nation to book major concerts at an open air amphitheater to be built at the base of the observation tower. Designed by Miró Rivera Architects, the venue opened in April 2013 with a concert by Kenny Chesney. The amphitheater will accommodate up to 14,000 people with 5,240 permanent reserved seats. Another 1,700 seats can be configured on the stage-front floor or there is standing room for 2,300. The remaining general admission spots are on a sloping grass area behind the reserved seats. The venue was originally going to be called Tower Amphitheater, but in March 2013, was renamed to Austin360 Amphitheater, with naming rights sold to the entertainment/events website associated with the Austin American-Statesman.
The primary permanent seating at Circuit of the Americas is located within the Main Grandstand, designed by Miró Rivera Architects. Above-ground construction on the grandstand began in March 2012, and the "topping out" occurred in June 2012 with completion in time for the inaugural United States Grand Prix.
The Main Grandstand is 65 feet tall, and has a total capacity of approximately 9,000 spectators. The seating is divided into three levels: lower level (capacity ~5400, including Loge Boxes), club level (capacity ~2900), and suite level (capacity ~750). The majority of seating is covered by a tensile fabric canopy. The primary structure is 500 feet long, while the lower risers extend an additional 500 feet. The grandstand also contains concessions, restrooms, offices, and two lounge spaces located at the second and third levels. The Velocity Lounge on the second level is approximately 7,100 square feet, and contains a 36-screen video wall and the acrylic painting "Velocity" by Dallas-based artist Christopher Martin measuring 120 feet in length.
Both the Main Grandstand and the concessions buildings in the Grand Plaza were conceived as a modular system consisting of several components that can be arranged according to need. The concessions, with banners and deep canopies, can be expanded with restrooms, permanent seating or suites. Inherent to this “kit-of-parts” construction system is flexibility allowing the site to grow and change.
In August 2017, a new soccer-specific stadium was announced to be built between the Amphitheater and the Grand Plaza. A professional soccer team known as Austin Bold FC will start playing in the United Soccer League in 2019.