October 26, 2022

10 years, 10 races, Never Missed a Turn: Texas-native dedicated to attending every race at Circuit of The Americas

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With ten years of racing officially in the books at Circuit of The Americas, the COTA Team wanted to acknowledge the countless fans who made the 10th anniversary possible. 10-year fan Susan Salch was the recipient of this year’s milestone fan surprise—COTA’s way of giving back to its loyal guests.

The Texas-native was raised on motorsport racing. In the Salch family, the barbecues and family get-togethers did not occur for Sunday football, but everyone marked their calendars to haul the big TVs to Susan’s parents’ backyard for the big races throughout the year.

Beyond the tradition of watch parties for the Indy 500, Susan and her mother even attended the very first street race in 1998 when Houston held the Championship Auto Racing Teams circuit. However, Susan’s love for Formula 1 has grown to take up space in her heart because it is such “intelligent and complex racing.”

Susan settled in Austin for law school in 1991 and continued her family’s dedication to racing. In the early 2000s, buzz began to drum up about a racetrack coming to fruition in the Live Music Capital of the World®.

“When I found out that they started to turn the Earth to build COTA, I immediately called my mom that we needed to be a part of it, and then we went to scope it out one day to see the progress,” Susan said.

After following the progress of the track religiously, the day finally came to experience a first Formula 1 race live in person for Susan and her family. On November 18 in 2012, Susan and her mom drove up to the brand-new, purpose-built Formula 1 racetrack called Circuit of The Americas, and were immediately elated.

“The first year we met people from all over the world, it was such a huge crowd of people who loved superb racing even though it was more of a niche sport at the time,” Susan said. “It was like ‘wow’ all of this is right in our backyard. Not everyone has access to these types of experiences and we’re so lucky to have become the home of the USGP.”

In no time, Susan became familiar with the Circuit and determined that Turn 12 was her favorite viewing point thanks to the excitement of countless overtakes. One other reason Susan will never miss a USGP at COTA’s Turn 12 is a dear friend she calls “F1 John,” who she met at Turn 12 during the 2016 USGP and now sees annually at the USGP. While Susan (and John) is glued to her seat during race moments, the ability to experience additional entertainment, and explore the food, shopping, and other offerings around the Circuit is the unique aspect of a Grand Prix at COTA that Susan loves.

“I hope everyone recognizes the gift that COTA is to the city, state and to the U.S. I love seeing this event draw people to this area. You don’t have to be a racing fan to come to this campus and enjoy it! There’re so many different options and truly something for everyone,” Susan said.

Along with lifelong memories made, Susan has taken a token home with her from each race. She has a collection of tickets, hats, shirts, pendants, cups, lanyards and more from over the years, each representative of her devotion to the sport.

This year, Susan took home something less tangible but more impactful: the memory of a surprise meet and greet with Alex Albon, driver for Williams Racing. As Team COTA attempted to celebrate all the fans who’ve made this decade possible, Susan was picked up by the team and driven to the Williams Fan Zone on Congress Ave, the Wednesday before the USGP event. Unable to hide her emotions, Susan was speechless when Albon walked toward her and shook her hand—it was clear that this introduction meant the world to her, as she gaped while he signed a Williams hat for her.

Now, with perspective from attending all 10 Formula 1 USGPs at Circuit of The Americas, Susan says that COTA will always hold a special place in her heart. “I am so proud to be living in the home of COTA, as an Austin resident and racing fan. Austin and COTA’s USGP put Formula One on the radar in the U.S. I’m glad the popularity is increasing, and the new races in America are/will be unique but this is the home of the USGP. We are USA!”

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