The COTA general admission tickets give fans some of the best value circuit access for the biggest events, being a lot cheaper than grandstand tickets.
This article provides some hints, tips and information for general admission pass holders on race weekend, including some of the best viewing areas.
Table of Contents
- 1 COTA general admission viewing
- 2 Best general admission viewing area at COTA
- 3 what to bring to COTA
- 4 COTA prohibited items
- 5 COTA bag policy
- 6 food and drink at COTA
- 7 COTA track invasion
COTA general admission tickets
For the F1 there are two types of general admission tickets you can purchase:
- 2 day (Sat & Sun) general admission grounds pass starting at $425
- 3 day (Fri, Sat & Sun) general admission grounds pass starting at $475
In comparison the cheapest grandstand seat tickets are $750 for the lower rows in the main grandstand at COTA, or the Turn 6 infield grandstand. The lower rows always have slightly worse views than the higher rows, but prices go up hundreds of dollars for sitting in the higher rows.
The 3 day general admission pass is great value in comparison to the grandstand seats, plus it’s only another $50 over the two day pass. And it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the COTA hospitality options.
Wondering whether there’s any point attending on the Friday as well? Well there’ll be two F1 practice sessions on the day, plus a host of other track activity from support races to demonstration runs. And there’ll be live music in the evening, all of which you have access to. Below is the 2022 Friday schedule as an example.
COTA general admission viewing
If you have COTA general admission grounds passes you don’t have access to any bleachers or grandstands over the weekend. Instead you can view the action from any of the grassy areas around the circuit. Read our guide on COTA entrance gates to work out the best place to get in to the circuit.
Luckily Circuit of the Americas is one of the best tracks on the F1 calendar for general admission viewing. The elevation changes around the track allow for some great vantage points, plus most of the grassy areas have a bank alongside the edge of the track that helps see over the catch fence.
The map below shows the COTA general admission viewing areas in blue.
Note that for other events such as the MotoGP and Nascar the grandstands at turns 2, 4, 6, 9 and 19 are likely to be missing. The space they take up can instead be used for general admission viewing.
Turn 1 general admission viewing area
Turn 2 general admission viewing area:
Turn 6 general admission viewing area:
Turn 11 general admission viewing area:
Turn 16 general admission viewing area :
Best general admission viewing area at COTA
For a great view that covers a lot of the track the Turn 1 area is probably be the best, with views of the whole start / finish straight, Turns 1 and 2 and visibility of turns 17, 18 and 19 across the track.
Most other people seem to think the same, however, and come Sunday it gets ridiculously busy here. Think sardines in a tin kind of busy.
The general admission viewing area at Turn 6 gives great views of the cars coming through the incredibly high speed ‘esses’ where they experience maximum downforce at the circuit. The cars are impressive to watch here, and if you get the right spot you can see from Turn 2 all the way to Turn 6. You can also catch glimpses on them down the back straight. Another very busy area, however.
One spot definitely worth checking out is the area from Turns 17 to 19. Being on the other side of the track this is usually a bit quieter as it’s a longer walk if you’re parked south of the circuit, but the grass banking gives great views of turns 17 to 19 plus you can see across the track to Turn 1.
what to bring to COTA
Below is my list of things that I would consider taking to the F1 at COTA:
- Tickets / wristband
- Lanyard for tickets
- Money – cards & contactless payment all worth bringing. COTA is cashless, there are no ATMs. Not all vendors use Apple or Google pay so bring a card too.
- Bag / rucksack – max size 12x12x20 inches
- I.D. for buying alcohol
- Sun cream
- UV protection lip balm
- Sun hat / cap
- Sun glasses
- Rain protection – it rained at the 2015 race, anything’s possible! Poncho, waterproof shoes, tarp
- Small hand-held umbrella for shade or rain
- Shoes suitable for walking – paths are dusty
- Fully charged phone
- Battery bank / power pack
- Still camera with zoom lens
- Video camera
- Spare camera batteries
- Spare memory cards
- F1 app on your phone to keep up with the action
- Folding camping chair(s) – essential!
- Collapsible wagon
- Ear plugs or ear defenders, especially for young kids
- Small cushion (equally useful on grandstand seats)
- Baby stroller
- Stadium back seats (if you have bleacher tickets)
- Some merch or memorabilia for the drivers to sign at autograph sessions
Food / drink
- Water bottle – rules state one factory sealed 20oz bottle each but that doesn’t seem to be strictly enforced. People use hydro flasks and other bigger refillable bottles, there are water stations all over.
- Camelback (should be empty)
- Trash bag – don’t leave any litter!
- Tissues / wet wipes
- You’re not supposed to bring your own food or alcoholic beverages in to the circuit. Enforcement of that is pretty lax on the Friday and Saturday but stricter on the Sunday. Small snacks should be ok.
COTA prohibited items
The items below are prohibited by COTA. For more detail see their venue policies here.
COTA bag policy
The COTA bag policy is that no bags bigger than 12x12x20 inches are allowed. The bags don’t have to be clear.
A small to medium size rucksack is usually fine and will get in to the venue without any issue. All bags are now screened for weapons on the way in and most are searched.
food and drink at COTA
As the rules above state, you’re not allowed to bring your own food or alcohol in to COTA. On Friday and Saturday the bag searching is pretty relaxed and generally the security is only on the lookout for glass or beer bottles, so a lot of people get away with it. Sunday is always stricter.
Generally it depends who’s checking your bag. Try and bring some supplies, but nothing that you’d be too annoyed with if it gets thrown in the trash by security. Small snacks should be ok.
There are countless food and drink vendors around the circuit, a lot of which are individual food trucks which means prices can vary. But queues can be huge, with waits of over 45 minutes not unusual. Sometimes the vendors run out. And unsurprisingly nothing is cheap. Expect to pay $12 for a beer or an iced coffee, $40+ for a whole pizza or $25 for a burger and fries. Some vendors are cheaper and more reasonably priced, you just have to search around.
If you really want your own food (and it will probably be better quality than most of the vendors on site), you can always leave it in your car and go back for it at lunch, if your car is nearby.
There are water stations dotted around the circuit but these can have big queues and have also run out in previous years. To be safe leave some extra water in your car, you can always go back for it if you need.
COTA track invasion
The Formula 1 event at Circuit of the Americas is famous for the track invasion once the race is over. This is one of the most exciting parts of the whole weekend – tens of thousands of fans swarm on to the Grand Prix track layout at COTA and head towards to the podium at the start of the pitlane.
COTA list some official places where you can enter the track, these being either side of the main grandstand, Turn 1 and Turn 19. But in reality people end up jumping fences and squeezing themselves on to the circuit wherever they can.
Get yourself on track. Fan Track Invasion entry points are Turn 1, Turn 19, Main Grandstand East, Main Grandstand West. #F1 #USGP
You can usually spend a good bit of time on the track after the race until you’re kicked off. It’s a nice way to spend another hour or two, looking at all of the shreds of rubber left on the circuit, rather than sitting in traffic.