COTA

For 4 years now we have been living in Austin. During these years we didn’t get to visit Circuit of the Americas (or COTA), the fairly new F1 track in South-East Austin. Finally, a few weekends ago we got a chance to do so. Philippe was enrolled in a “track day” which is held every so often. What it means is that day you can drive with your own car (street or race car) on the track. Back in the days, when animals still talked, he used to be a race car driver, but since moving to the States, he hasn’t raced once. So you can imagine how excited he was when he finally got to check out COTA.

The fun begins right at the start. Elevation of turn 1 is at 30 m and the top is reached at 11% steepness. Just for your information his favorite track is Belgium’s Spa Francorchamps – the Raidillon is his favorite part of the whole track. It has a maximum gradient in excess of 18%! It’s steeper than the Muur van Geraardsbergen which is only 9.3% steep The Muur is part of the Tour of Flanders.

Anyways, he had a lot of fun, fortunately he didn’t have any accidents, the only concern he had were the brakes. He wasn’t sure if they would survive, but they did! We saw lots of awesome and rare race cars, one of them was a John Player Special F1 car which Mario Andretti drove in in 1978. We all had a good time. The girls were impressed by their dad’s skills.

He added a sticker to the bumper of his car of all the tracks where he already raced at least once. In order of appearance:  Zolder, Dijon, Zandvoort, Nürburgring, Spa and Cota.

Now that we appreciate Cota even more, we keep an eye on the events calendar. On November 11th there was a 24 hours race organized by a Dutch team. One of the drivers was our very own Jan Heylen! Philippe and Jan used to kart together in 1996-97. His co driver was Tom Boonen, a former professional road bicycle racer. The best part was that the mechanic of the team – Rudy – was Philippe’s former mechanic when he used to race the Renault Clio Cup in 2004. There were lots of famous people amongst others James May, the co-presenter of Top Gear.

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