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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Dandcparking
- Phone number: (512) 825-4602
- Location: South end of Elroy road near intersection with FM 812, around 15 minute walk from Turn 1 entrance
Pat's Public Parking
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patspublicparking
- Phone number: (512) 809-7863
- Location: South end of Elroy road near intersection with FM 812, around 15 minute walk from Turn 1 entrance
WD 812 Parking
- Website: https://admin34010.wixsite.com/my-site
- Phone Number: (512) 331-4000
- Location: Directly opposite Lot A, other side of FM 812, 5 – 10 minute walk from Main Grandstand entrance
Austin Race Parking
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100085853040643
- Website: https://austinraceparking.com/
- Phone number: 512-423-8995
- Location: Best for heading north or east. Located east of Turn 11 opposite Lot L, 15 minute walk to Turn 11 entrance. Leave the lot, turn right on to Elroy and then immediately right on to Fagerquist Road to avoid most of the traffic, often saves over an hour of queuing.
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.