There is one main COTA track layout that is used for most motorsport events at the circuit in Austin, Texas, but there are actually two different configurations that can be used.
This article looks at each of the layouts, their lengths and their corners in more detail.
Circuit of the Americas history in brief
Circuit of the Americas, known as COTA, was designed and built for the sole purpose of bringing Formula 1 back to the USA. The last time a United Stated Grand Prix had been held was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007.
In 2010 Texas was awarded a 10 year contract to host the revitalised US GP. Plans had been put in place to build a new circuit in Travis County to the east of Austin.
The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke who’s company also designed Yas Marina, the Red Bull Ring, Bahrain International, Sepang and many other F1 tracks.
The design for the new track layout would take inspiration from a selection of existing motorsport venues. The ‘esses’ as turns 3, 4, 5 and 6 were modelled on Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone and the stadium section was inspired by the Hockenheimring.
There was a lot of elevation change built in to the new circuit; a positive for drivers and spectators alike.
Construction work started in 2010 and was completed two years later, just in time to host the first US GP in 5 years at the end of 2012.
Circuit of the Americas quickly established itself as a favourite on the F1 calendar and currently they have a contract to host the United Stated Grand Prix until 2026.
COTA Grand Prix track layout
- Length: 3.43 miles / 5.51km
- Number of corners: 20
- Direction: Anti-clockwise
The COTA track layout that’s most frequently used is the Grand Prix circuit. This is used for the Formula One and MotoGP races amongst others.
The circuit runs anti-clockwise and is almost three and a half miles long. Almost everything, apart from F1 cars and Indycar (when they raced here once in 2019), take over 2 minutes to complete a full lap. Check out some of the COTA lap records to see the fastest lap times around the Grand Prix circuit layout.
The pitlane entry is between turns 19 and 20, pit road runs directly opposite the COTA main grandstand and pit exit is just before Turn 1.
There are 20 corners on the full COTA track layout, ranging from incredibly slow and tight hairpins at turns 1 and 11 to super-fast switchbacks through 3, 4 and 5.
Some of the series that race or have raced on the Grand Prix circuit layout at COTA are:
- W Series
- Nascar Cup, Xfinity and Truck series
- GT World Challenge America
- Indycar (2019 only)
- Indy Lights
- Star Mazda
- Lamborghini Super Trofeo
- Super Lap Battle
- TCR Touring Cars
- BMW CCA
COTA National track layout
- Length: 2.30 miles / 3.79km
- Number of corners: 15
- Direction: Anti-clockwise
The second and much lesser known COTA track layout is the National circuit. This has just 15 corners, missing out turns 7 to 11.
There is an additional bit of track that cuts across the infield and joins the track up between Turn 6 and the back straight.
This new section of track has a small chicane in it which cars can pretty much straight line by using the kerbs on both sides, just before they re-join the back straight a short way before Turn 12.
The most high profile series to have raced on the National circuit at COTA is the V8 Supercars. Surprisingly the Aussie series came over to the United States for one round in 2013, known as the Austin 400.
The aim was to have some American drivers enter the race to raise the series’ profile with an aim to stage future events in the US, but that didn’t come off.
Nascar driver Kurt Busch did a demo drive in Jamie Courtney’s V8 Supercar, but that was all.
There were four 100km V8 Supercar races held over the weekend, with the shorter but just as technical National circuit proving to be an excellent venue for some exciting racing.
The series was due to return a year later but it clashed with the X Games being held at COTA. After that V8 supercars decided to terminate its contract with the track and they never returned.
Only a few series have raced on the National circuit over the years, including:
- V8 Supercars
- Pirelli World Challenge
- Porsche Carrera Cup
- Stadium Super Trucks
The stadium Super Trucks supported the Indycar event in 2019, and as well as using the National circuit they of course added jumps to the track.
how long is the straight at COTA?
The straight at COTA is 0.73 miles / 1.18 km long. That’s the back straight which is the longest straight on the circuit.
The distance was measured from the apex of Turn 11, the hairpin leading on the to straight, to the apex of Turn 12, the corner at the end of the straight.
The full length of the back straight is only used on the Grand Prix circuit. On the National circuit it’s much shorter, only 860ft / 260m of the back straight is used.
The back straight isn’t actually straight, it has a slight right hand bend in it plus a small crest about a third of the way along which means the rest of the straight is unsighted until you get over it. Despite that it’s completely flat out in every series that races on it.
The front straight at COTA is 2500ft / 780m long, with the last couple of hundred feet being a steep uphill run.
Both straights are DRS zones for the F1 at COTA.