There was a moment at the Circuit of the Americas, as I strapped on a helmet, slid open the scissor door, and squeezed into the cramped cockpit of a $250,000 Lamborghini Gallardo, listening to the V-10 engine’s unforgiving roar, when it occurred to me that what I was about to do might, in fact, be a really bad idea. But my trepidation began to evaporate as soon as we peeled around the first turn at 100 mph, and then disappeared entirely when our friendly professional driver, Les, revved the car up to 160 mph, the earth turning into a smear of checkered lines and black pavement. I demanded a second trip around the track as soon as we’d finished lap one (while another first-timer promptly vomited—clearly a beta male).
Circuit of The Americas
The Salt Lick
Hilton Austin Airport
Experiencing life at 160 on Circuit of the America’s 3.4-mile Formula 1 track located just outside Austin, is the holy grail of guy-trip experiences, and as such, it doesn’t come cheap, ranging from $2,500 for an individual driver to $55,000 to turn the whole place into your own private racetrack for the day. Still, “for anyone who is a car or motorsports fan this experience is one-of-a-kind,” says COTA spokesperson Ali Putnam. “This is the only purpose-built grand prix track in the country.” If something that extravagant is outside your posse’s budget, though, not to worry: other options include attending a race (a seat in the main grandstand usually starts at a few hundred dollars) or touring the facility, which includes a trip to the top of the 251-foot viewing tower overlooking the high-tech track ($15 for adults).
A great thing about Circuit of the Americas is, of course, its proximity to Austin and all the fun on tap there. Since a guy’s weekend should always include beer, don’t miss the Jester King’s tasting room. Open just three days a week, this is a Texas craft beer destination, offering its own creations alongside rare imports from around the globe. You can also purchase bottles and growlers to go, which affords you and the boys a perfect excuse to make the 15-mile drive south to the BYOB haven that is Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. If your group is large, you are morally obligated to opt for a “family style” meal, an all-you-can-eat onslaught of brisket, ribs, sausage, and country fixings that only ends when you submit to your server and ask for the check.
If lodging in close proximity to COTA is a must, there’s the Hilton Austin Airport. But for real fun, stay in the heart of Austin, specifically off South Congress Ave., at the Kimber Modern, where options range from spare, sleek single rooms to the funky two-bedroom Blue House. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and stumble to the abundant nightlife nearby, especially on Rainey St. just across the Colorado River, with its bars for the professional drinking man (as opposed to the amateurs down on 6th St.). Start the evening at Craft Pride, where you can choose from 54 Texas brews on tap—and don’t miss the Bacon Van out back, which specializes in—yup, that.
Hunting wild things is fun, but not as fun as hunting wild things before returning to a real-life castle with your kills. Such is life at the Greystone Castle Sporting Club in Mingus, an hour west of Fort Worth, where a weekend getaway resembles nothing so much as a bird-hunting vacation in old Europe. And the upscale lodge, complete with medieval towers and steep walls, is not solely devoted to killing, it seems. Visitors are also welcome to lounge in the hot tub, go on nature walks, or indulge in the gourmet menu.... South Padre Island is renowned for its bro-friendly debauchery, of course, but its abundance of sports activities often goes overlooked. The kiteboarding, windsurfing, and horseback riding opportunities are all stellar, and the island is also home to regular fishing tournaments offering serious prize money.… Each March and November, in a scene worthy of Lonesome Dove, local cowboys in Matagorda County drive hundreds of cattle to the edge of the Gulf Coast before leading them across the Colorado River to Matagorda Peninsula. The tradition, dating back to 1919, is one of the last remaining cattle drives around, as well as a big draw for tourists, who stay in the area’s many bed and breakfasts in Matagorda or Bay City, enjoying bird watching, fishing, and museums.… And the Laredo Hunting Resort, located on 2,200 acres 20 miles south of Laredo, may just be the most guy-friendly place in Texas. Inside the main lodge you’ll find a fireplace surrounded by oversized leather sofas, a big-screen TV, a 30-foot bar—and lots and lots of animal skins. Outside, you and your buddies can choose from a large menu of activities, from four-wheel-drive excursions through the South Texas brush country to bass fishing, horseback riding, exotic animal hunting, and skeet shooting, not to mention plenty of relaxing in the resort’s pool and hot tub.