F1 COTA Parking Guide: How to Avoid the Traffic & Save Money

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

COTA parking lot at Circuit of the Americas

To get to COTA for the United States Grand Prix you have four main options; official COTA parking, unofficial private parking lots, the COTA shuttle service or a rideshare service.

Despite these different options, over the last few years the US GP has been notorious for some pretty big traffic jams leaving the circuit during F1 weekend, with people waiting 2, 3 or even 4 hours to get out of certain parking lots.

Add to that the official parking passes costing over $275 for the weekend and you have a recipe for a pretty unpleasant experience.

But by selecting the right parking strategy and using some of the unofficial parking lots listed in this article you can avoid the worst of the traffic and save yourself a heap of cash as well. 

This is a guide to some of the best parking options at Circuit of the Americas F1 that you need to consider before arranging your travel.

Contents

COTA parking & traffic issues

Circuit of the Americas was built in a rural part of Texas with nothing in the way of infrastructure around it. 

The access roads surrounding the circuit are mostly 2 lane narrow roads that simoly cannot handle the volume of traffic seen on the F1 weekend. So if you’re going, set your expectation low and be prepared to be sat in traffic. 

COTA is located just east of the SH 130 toll road. Most traffic, whether it’s coming from North, South or West of the circuit will want to use this road to access the circuit.

From the 130 access to COTA is only via two roads; exit 451 for Elroy Road or exit 453 for the FM 812. Getting on to Elroy Road and the FM 812, and then getting on the SH 130 after the event is what causes the traffic gridlock.

The map below shows the access roads and official COTA parking lots around the circuit.

COTA parking map and road layout for Circuit of the Americas

If you’re coming from the North, a better route to access the circuit and the northern parking lots is to use Kellam Road which is directly off Highway 71. 

Elroy Road to the north of the circuit was increased to 5 lanes in 2022 to help ease some of the traffic flow, and provide some additional lanes for shuttle buses. But it’s still gridlock at peak times after the racing.

If you’re south of the circuit often the traffic is directed south east down the FM 812 after the event, so if that’s the direction you’re headed then parking as near to that as possible is the aim.  The Elroy / 812 intersection is a major sticking point for traffic.

Still need COTA F1 tickets?

If you still need tickets for the F1 at COTA I’d recommend buying them on StubHub.

There’s hundreds of tickets currently for sale, plus they’re a lot of much more affordable single-day ticket options. 

I’ve used StubHub for Formula 1 tickets a few times over the last year, including for my visit to the Grand Prix in Las Vegas, and have always had a great experience buying with them.

Their FanProtect guarantee is also very robust for protecting your money and tickets, and that gave me a lot of confidence when purchasing. 

Official COTA parking lots

You can purchase official COTA parking tickets through the COTA website (which then directs you to Ticketmaster). There are a number of official parking lots around the perimeter of the circuit which can be seen on the maps above and below.

There are spectator entrances at the Main Grandstand, Grand Plaza, Turn 1, Turn 3, Turn 11 and the Premium RV zone. Read our full guide to the different Circuit of the Americas entrance gates for more info.

These parking tickets sell out for the F1, so booking early means you stand a chance of having more choice of which lot to go for. Your choice should depend on where on the track you are sitting, and which direction you are travelling from.

If you have reserved grandstand or bleacher seats might want to try and chose a lot as close to those as possible, using the nearest entrance. Suggested nearest parking lots for each of the different grandstands are stated below, listed in order of their closeness:

  • Turn 1 – Lots T, N, A (Turn 1 entrance)
  • Turn 2 – Lots N, T (Turn 3 or Turn 1 entrance)
  • Turn 4 – Lots N, T (Turn 3 entrance)
  • Turn 6 infield – Lot E (use the tunnel, Grand Plaza entrance), Lot N (use the bridge, Turn 3 entrance)
  • Turn 9 – Lots L, M (Turn 11 entrance) or Lot N (Turn 3 entrance)
  • Turn 11 – Lots L, M, J (Turn 11 entrance)
  • Turn 12 – Lot E, F, G, H, G, J (Grand Plaza entrance)
  • Turn 15 – Lots E, F, G, H, J (Grand Plaza entrance)
  • Turn 19 – Lots A, E, F, G, H, J (Grand Plaza entrance)

Traffic using official lots

Getting out of the official parking lots at the end of the day is very painful, mostly on the Saturday and Sunday of the race weekend when attendance numbers are highest. 

Take an ice-filled cooler, put some food and drinks in it and and leave it in your car ready for the end of the day in preparation for the traffic.

If you’re coming from North of the circuit consider lots R and S. They’re further from the circuit – a 15 minute walk from the Turn 11 entrance, 30 minute walk from the Grand Plaza but sometimes there are free trolley services to take you to the entrance – but you can exit directly on to Kellam Road and head north to Hwy 71, avoiding Elroy Road completely.

Lot F to the north of the circuit is one of the biggest parking lots but there’s only one lane for cars to exit through. There’s been numerous bad reviews of people being stuck in this lot for hours after qualifying or the race, trying to leave the circuit. This is one of the worst lots for traffic exiting.

From the south Lot T is well located, close to FM 812, but always very very slow to get out of. People have reported some pretty major hold ups leaving Lot T with some waiting over 3 hours straight after the race on the Sunday.

Lot A is the closest to the 812 and SH 130 but is a premium lot so normally mega expensive.

COTA Parking Cost

The official COTA parking passes for the F1 are super expensive. Prices start at $275 for the 3-day weekend for slightly further out lots. For the closest premium lots such as A that price can go up to $500. As if the COTA general admission or grandstand ticket prices weren’t bad enough, another 300 bucks (or more) for parking for the weekend is painful.

Official COTA parking passes have to be purchased online in advance. Some people have had success turning up to the further out parking lots such as R and paying cash on the day. But don’t count on that.

COTA parking cost for the F1

Unofficial private parking lots

The best way to save yourself time and money on COTA parking is to use one of the unofficial private parking lots. During the big events, with the F1 being the biggest, literally dozens of local home and business owners rent out their yards, lawns or parking areas to race goers.

The majority of these are at the bottom of Elroy road near to the intersection with the FM 812. They’re perfectly placed for a quick exit south east on the FM 812 and usually there’s very little issue with traffic.

Circuit of the Americas map of Elroy Road and private lots

There are also usually some further North on Elroy Road near the Exxon gas station. These are a short walk to the COTA Shuttle drop-off point at the McAngus Road depot where you can catch a free tram to the Grand Plaza entrance.

Elroy Road parking lot COTA

Most of these private parking lots are pretty makeshift offerings. A few have an online presence, most pop up on race weekend with hand-made signs by the side of the road offering parking. 

Payment is usually taken on the day with cash, card or Venmo (always bring cash to be sure). Some offer food, drinks, toilets and a place to sit in the shade.

Pat's parking at Circuit of the Americas

Prices vary but they can range from $20 a day to $255 for the weekend. But you can be sure they’ll all be cheaper than the official parking lots.

The private parking lots near COTA that have an online presence are listed below. These can all be contacted using via their website, Facebook messenger, phone or text message to reserve a spot for the F1. 

Austin Race Parking now offer online payment before hand, the rest seem to only take payment on the day.

Danny and Carmen's Parking

Pat's Public Parking

Ruiz Parking

WD 812 Parking

Austin Race Parking

Also look out for local restaurants that offer COTA parking over the F1 weekend. The Mexican restaurants Meches Tacos and Club Mis Amigos have previously offered parking for $50 a day and they are directly off the FM 812 near the intersection with Elroy.

The police and traffic marshals will always prioritise official COTA parking lot traffic when helping out after the event, but as the private lots listed above are well located and often hold fewer cars you’ll almost always have a much speedier exit.

That’s not to say it’s always great, however. Just look at the hate the Chris Taylor Racing private parking lot got after 2022. But then he did pack in 1200 cars, gave them one exit point and had no traffic marshalling. Unsuprisingly they’re not offering F1 parking again.

COTA ride shares - Uber / Lyft

In previous years it’s been a nightmare trying to use Uber or Lyft to get to or from the circuit. Phone signal is patchy at best, and the traffic chaos has meant that the ride share cars have been stuck trying to get to and from the circuit with pick up and drop off locations on COTA Boulevard.

From 2023 onwards ride shares won’t be allowed to pick up or drop off at the circuit. There’s a designated pick up / drop off point for them at Delle Valle High School parking lot, which is 3.5 miles from the circuit. 

COTA have said they will be putting on complimentary shuttle services but there’ll probably be a big wait for those.

One other option is to find parking in the neighbourhood near Del Valle high school and then jump on the shuttle for free.

COTA Shuttle bus

COTA offers a full shuttle bus ‘park and ride’ service from 3 locations near the circuit. This comes with its own downsides and complication, so read our full article on the COTA shuttle bus service for all the info.

But in brief; queues for the shuttle service at the end of the Saturday and Sunday of the F1 weekend have in the past been hellish. Hopefully next year will be better.

COTA parking - a summary

For COTA parking during the F1 don’t go with the official parking lots unless you want to spend loads of cash and are prepared to be sat in a queue for hours at the start and end of the day. 

The benefit of the official parking lots is they’re closer to the track, so you can even pop back to your car for some lunch, beer or a well-earned nap.

For a cheaper and less stressful experience use one of the unofficial private lots nearby. For peace of mind reserve a space in advance at one of those listed in the article above. Bring cash, pay on the day and save a bunch of money. 

Be prepared to walk a little further but if you’ve picked the right lot based on where you’re heading after the event you should expect a much quicker getaway.

Whatever you do, if you’re in no rush to get home then hang around at the end of the day. Take part in the track invasion after the race, enjoy the live music, or tailgate at your car in the parking lot.

Or, for the best way to enjoy the weekend and avoid all of the traffic completely, consider one of the COTA camping options. You can stay a 10 minute walk from the track from Thursday to Monday, eat your own food and drink your own drinks all from the comfort of your own trailer or RV.

US GP - What to Expect

I’ll send you my 6 must-know tips for attending the COTA F1 race so you are fully prepared, know what to expect and get the most out of the event.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

leave a comment

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
37 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Haley

Hi, I’m travelling from Barcelona to go see the F1. I have a question:
I bought tickets from only one day : Friday 20th and I’m on Turn 1 Ground pass. If I buy a parking ticket on the oficial we store of Cota for a single day, do I have to walk from the parking lot where it’s located at FM812 & Maldonado Trail to the COTA entrance? Or is the a bus that takes me for free? I don’t know what to do. Can you help me please?

thank you

Haley

Hi,

Do you know how far is the off-site park and ride parking lot to Cota walking? And what do you think about the “Austin race parking“?
Thank you

Drew

Hello, do you happen to know if takes awhile to get out of Lot N on Saturday and Sunday?

Liam

Hi, we have general admission tickets (myself, my partner & our 1yr old son), for the Sunday only. We are staying in a motel near Austin Airport. Can you advise which private car park would be best to use? Thanks!

Liam

Just purchased a Sunday Pass and they were great. Thanks for your help!

John B.

Oversteer48: Thank you so much for this COTA parking guide – this is all great information. Fortunately or, unfortunately, I already invested in the official COTA Parking for 3 days of the Oct. 2023 F1 races. Here’s my question: We will be in Lot K, which is over near Turn 11 and also where COTA Blvd. turns into Kellam Rd. If we need to take Hwy 71 over to our hotel off of I-35, will it be best and easiest to just take COTA Blvd./Kellam northbound to 71 and then head west? Also, do you know how traffic is on Kellam Rd. and Hwy 71 after the races (are they just as packed?) and is there any better exit route you can suggest than what I just described based on our lot location relative to the track?

I appreciate any feedback you can provide. Thank you.

John B.

Understood. Thank you again for the great article and I certainly appreciate your suggestions and guidance. All very helpful. 👍

Patrick

Fantastic article, thank you for taking the time to help those attending the Grand Prix. My friend and I are watching from the turn 15 grand stands. Which unofficial lot would you recommend as best for us as we are staying in downtown Austin. Appreciate your help. (Was wondering if south east event parking would be a good option)

Patrick

Thanks for the reply. WD 812 is the South East event parking once you click further into the link, sorry for the confusion. So with taking into account the further walk to Austin Race Parking but quicker to back to downtown Austin which would you recommend in the end? (Or is there another option you listed that’s best?) WD 812 seemed not bad but I’m asking as I have zero experience and have never been before. Seems like a 15 minute walk compared to 40 minutes from turn 15.

Thanks again for your help!

Denny Raven

Can I sleep overnight at parking F in my small RV and have my dog with me?

Clayton Scott

I’m coming from New Braunfels with my toddler for the race/Queen Saturday. Any suggestions on best locations to get in and out? Looks like some of the private lots are booked.

Clayton Scott

Danny & Carmen and Ruiz are booked up. I also reached out to Pat’s, but haven’t seen if they have availability. WD812 parking replied and indicated they have a back route through the farm. But with the volume of cars they can handle, I’m not sure how effective that would be exiting. Would you recommend Pat’s over WD812?

Doug

We have some friends who offered to drop us off and pick us up to avoid the parking mess and shuttles. Any recommendations on where best to do that? We have turn 15 grand stand tickets on Friday…

Brian

Where specifically is the McAngus Lot? The wife will be dropping me off and picking me up on Saturday. Guidance says this where that’s supposed to be done, but though the McAngus Lot is mentioned different places, I can’t find it on any map. Can you help?

Manuel

Hi oversteer48!
We are going from Bastrop. We like wd812 parking lot. Do you think is a good choice for going southbound after the race? Also we haver GA passes and want to see the race at turn 1, which entrance is the shortest from wd812?
This website is very useful for first time goers like us, thank you and keep the good work!
Cheers from Mexico!!!

Brett Spelker

What’s the motorcycle parking situation? Do I still need a parking pass?

cebing

Hi. Have never been to COTA, planning on USGP October 2024. With paddock club passes, which official and unofficial lots do you recommend? Super intimidated after reading all of this. We are staying in Downtown Austin. Will obviously be mentally prepared for the traffic but would also love to give ourselves the best shot at a smoother entrance and exit.

Tom

Hi Alex, great articles about COTA in general, helped a lot in choosing seats, we appreciate it. We’re going this year for the whole weekend, we’ll have a rental car and heading straight to the airport after the race. Where would you recommend we park to make it to the airport the fastest way. We don’t mind walking to further parking lots at all.
Thanks a lot

latest COTA guides

Free email guide

What to expect on your trip to the F1 at COTA

Free email with my tips to help remove any doubts, questions or fears you might have.