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Is Driving on Austin's F1 Track Worth $55,000?

If you ever wanted to ride an Formula 1 track in your own car, the Circuit of the Americas is now selling the opportunity. A full-day private track rental goes for $55,000. Group rates are available at $2,500 per person.

"Response has been strong with more than 250 people expressing interest within the first few days of offering the experience online," Circuit Executive Vice President Bruce Knox said in a press release. 

For a sport that caters to people who commute by helicopter and drop $10,000 on bottle service, it's probably not shocking to see a $55,000 price tag attached to a single day of entertainment. But how does it stack up against the competition? We poked around and found out. 

Bahrain's International Circuit charges about $225 to drive your car on the track. The price doesn't include the cost of renting a crash helmet. And you'll have to share the track with others.

In Montmeló, Spain, you can drive on the 2.8-mile Circuit de Catalunya for about $65. You only get to be on the track for 30 minutes at a time

If you can make it to Budapest, you can drive a car on the 2.7-mile Hungaroring, starting at about $35 for 20 minutes. That price includes Hungary's 27 percent sales tax, the highest sales tax in the European Union.

Driving on Italy's 3.6-mile Autodromo Nazionale Monza costs about $60 for 25 minutes. If you arrive on the right days, you don't even need a reservation. 

The 2.8-mile Nürburgring in Germany is open for you to drive a car for about $55 for 20 minutes. The website promises "long run-off zones, gravel beds, seven left and ten right curves - and a lot of cult potential!"

Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit offers air conditioned garages and racing school instructors giving driving tips during its track days, all for about $175. Pre-book now and get 15 percent off! 

Or perhaps your Honda Civic isn't exciting enough and you'd like to drive a Ferrari or an Aston Martin? At the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom, you can take your pick as part of a $240 package

If you don't have a passport, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California can be rented for $8,000 on a weekday during the off season. Although it was constructed in 1957 in an attempt to lure Formula 1 racing to Monterey County, the Grand Prix never happened there. 

In defense of Circuit of the Americas, their $55,000 package offers other stuff you might not get elsewhere, such as lap timing, dedicated pit lane garages, a champagne celebration on the Tower Deck, video monitoring, a medical staff, and help transporting your vehicle. Plus at $55,000, you get the entire track to yourself for the whole day. 

But if you're simply looking for the thrill of driving a car on a Formula One track, the experience can be purchased, along with airfare, hotel and food, for less than the price of admission at CoTA. You just won't be driving on the newest Grand Prix circuit in F1.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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