On Friday morning, I looked up at the Circuit of the Americas media center television to see a father and son being pulled on a tiny roller coaster whose cars were shaped like a caterpillar. I thought to myself, “I have to do this. Former Jalop collaborator Alanis King sat next to me in the media center and said, “So let’s do it.” Readers: We did.
The United States Grand Prix at COTA has done its fair share of evolving above Last few years. In my first race in 2014, the event was a pretty spartan affair. There were merchandise tents, sponsor tents, and local food trucks, of course, but nothing stood out as being a Formula 1 race. It was a lot of fun, but it was also a little depressing to realize how little the track offered outside of the track action compared to other F1 events. I attended in Austria, Canada and England.
This year, tthere were some amazingly cool carnival rides and food options. Parts of the track that were previously inaccessible to fans have been opened. New grandstands and pedestrian bridges were erected, and I had heard rumors that the race was sold out as early as May.
Like, just look at this nonsense:
Didn’t have a chance to explore the whole trail, but saw Lonestar Land and Rodeo Driveway, and the people: I was upset that I didn’t have a bigger stomach to eat all the food. Not only was there smoked brisket on the side, but Rodeo Driveway served up a whole host of foods you never would have thought of as follow the food: duck breasts, éclairs, pavlovas … Pair that with several musical scenes around the track and tons of carnival rides, and you will be in for a treat.
But I digress. I was all about the carnival rides.
I’ll cover here that I didn’t end up getting on all stroll. Some, like the big track roller coaster, were still under construction. Others, like the NASCAR kiddie ride, were unwilling to let an adult adult take a ride. And for the Ferris wheel, I made a reasonable inference that this Ferris wheel would be like every other Ferris wheel I’ve been on: fun for about 15 seconds, but those 15 seconds are supplemented by five minutes of charging and unloading of runners.
Note: I can’t remember the actual names of the rides and instead opted for the names Alanis King and I gave them over the weekend, which I would say are more descriptive.
For your reference: tickets for these rides were $ 4 each, and each ride was required a variable number of tickets. In all, I spent $ 40 for 10 tickets which was not that great considering the cost of the other carnival rides that I have enjoyed in recent weeks.
6. COTA Karting: Non-existent
COTA’s kart track is impressive, but this weekend, the track had been dismantled and turned into an additional parking lot for Lot A, the media and team field, which did not fill up anyway. I was extremely disappointed.
5. The zip line: 3 tickets
COTA made a big deal on their zipline, and admittedly it’s pretty neat. It stretches from the front section of the track all the way to turn 1 and offers some groomed views and a bit of thrills. However, it is at the bottom of my list for several reasons. Firstly, only two people can ride it at a time, which means it took Alanis and I about an hour to get back up the line. Second, it costs three tickets, which is too many tickets. Third, it’s not long enough to justify the wait, but maybe it’s also because I took part in the Apache zip ski tour in New Mexico, which is a Certified event where you can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour.
4. Bull Riding: Free because it was an advertisement
A cellular data company set up a runway booth that featured a pink plastic bull that fans could ride in exchange for providing that company with their email address (pro tip: always have a spam email address for these occasions). I saw it from the top of the mighty Spinny Thing and told Alanis we had to try it. i lasted 1.6 seconds on this bull, but in my defense I would say it started moving long before they actually started timing me. Alanis did it eight seconds before taking a spill. We watched two other women hold on for more than 30 seconds, which I pin to the fact that they were wearing shorts and had better grip.
3. The caterpillar: 1 ticket
The crawler roller coaster was the last ride I took on COTA, and it was the perfect way to end the carnival adventure. It was relaxed and had surprising elevation changes. Alanis and I were not the only adults on this trip, but the other adults were certainly there with their children. Nonetheless, it was delicious and cold and didn’t take my heart rate up into dangerous territory. Thank you for your service, caterpillar.
2. The Spinny Thing: 5 tickets
Now we compare the caterpillar with The Spinny Thing. I don’t even know how to describe it. It was a long vertical machine that had a seat for two at each end, and it made you go around in circles. But because there were people on either end, it meant you would inevitably spend a long period of time at the top viciously rocking back and forth as others charged up. It was horrible. I lost all the bobby pins in my hair. I shouted obscenities loud enough for the children to hear. It was delicious and well worth the price, largely because there was nothing quite like it because most people were sane enough to avoid this ride at all costs.
1. The Droppy Thing: 1 ticket
For just four dollars and literally no queue, I got to enjoy my favorite carnival ride, but also the least favorite of all: that big-assed ride that slowly lifts you into the air and then drops you. I hate it so much. I love him too. For four dollars, you couldn’t find a better way to briefly experience your own death.