Is Austin, TX the new Motor City?

For the weekend of April 12-14 it will be. If you’ve been contemplating making a trip to Austin, TX, this is the weekend you should have planned for. If you’re more of a spontaneous adventurer, you should start gathering your camera equipment, pack a bag and find a place to stay now.

This particular weekend offers more to moto and gearheads than any other. The variety is about as vast as it gets. Custom motorcycles, hooligan racing, custom cars and the fastest motorcycle racing in the world will all be in one place - Austin, TX. And if you plan it right, you can easily witness all of these events yourself. Let’s motor.

The Handbuilt Motorcycle Show - Austin American Statesman, 305 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX / Friday, April 12, 6 p.m.- 12 a.m. / Saturday, April 13, 12 p.m.- 12 a.m. / Sunday, April 14, 12 p.m. -6 p.m.

If you’ve never been to Handbuilt, it’s about as close to a motorcycle art show as it gets. The machines on display are hand-picked by host Revival Cycles and displayed as such. The lighting, the layout, even the show’s hand-painted signage have all been meticulously crafted and curated. It truly is a thing of beauty. The craftsmanship and ingenuity showcased at Handbuilt is like no other.

But it’s not all show and no go. Inside the show is a thing of beauty, but outside, it may get ugly. This year at Handbuilt, Roland Sands is bringing the Super Hooligan Race Series to the party. The name pretty much sums up what this is all about. Hooligans Racing. It’s fast, loud, and sketchy as hell. The perfect juxtaposition from the beauty inside the show.

The 18th Annual Lonestar Round Up - Travis County Expo Center - 7311 Decker Lane, Austin, TX. April 12 & 13, 2019.

The Roundup is hands down one of the best vintage hot rod and custom car shows in America. We’re talking hundreds of pre-1964 hot rods, customs, rat rods, trucks and motorcycles all packed into the Travis County Expo Center. Some of the best custom cars you’ll ever see by some of the best builders in the scene. Hosted by the infamous Kontinentals Car Club, this show has grown exponentially in its 18 years. The first show was actually only a handful of cars on an old football field. Think about that when you wander around the Expo Center. The love of all things old still holds true in this digital and disposable day and age.

Among the sea of killer customs, the vendor areas of the show are just as impressive. You’ll find custom-painted goods, vintage clothing and artists of all sorts selling their wares. There’s also a swap meet, mini bike races and tons of vintage hot rod ephemera to add to your collection. Hell, you can even get a sweet pompadour haircut at the show if you’d like to look the part for the weekend. Barbers are usually set up somewhere at the show.

The Roundup can easily make for an all-day event. There’s always a great line up of live bands, lots of food trucks and plenty of cold beer to keep you cool as you walk the show.

Make sure to bring your lawn chair and cooler to South Congress Saturday night. The party continues and the cars and bikes will be cruising up and down Congress most of the night.

MotoGP, MotoAmerica Roadracing - Circuit of the Americas (COTA) 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Austin, TX / April 12 - 14

A short 30 minute drive from downtown is all it takes to spend a day in blood pumping, high octane fun. The moment you pull up to the behemoth grandstands, you will be immersed in the sound, smell and thrill of the most elite motorcycle racing in the world. Cross the sea of thousands of spectator bikes and enjoy the pavilion where you can see the manufactures' latest models, demo the latest tech, purchase new gear or merch or maybe try your luck impressing an umbrella girl. Inside your senses will be filled with the sounds of screaming race bikes, the sweet smell of race fuel and of course, the beautiful livery from the world’s top teams.

If you are planning this in your schedule, races start Sunday. If you want to catch more action at the track, pick up a three day or pit-pass, as it will allow you to watch teams practice on Friday in addition to Saturday's final qualifying attempt when racers really lay it on the line. Gain access to the pits to see the action up close, meet riders and immerse yourself into the action.

I’m lucky enough to live within a few hours riding distance from Austin, so we get to visit quite a lot. Here’s my favorite places I always try to hit when I make it down South. I’m a low key, dive bar kind of guy, so if you’re into that, keep reading.

  • The Little Darlin’ – Hands down my favorite bar/restaurant. Great bar, great food, great people. Go here. You’ll love it.
  • Franklin BBQ – Yeah, the line is long. But, you can drink beer in line. Yeah, it’s crowded. But, that gives you a chance to talk to people like humans should. This place is famous for a reason. I won’t over-hype it, just go and find out for yourself. Get there early.
  • The White Horse – Proper honky tonk, cheap drinks, live music – take your lady for a spin on the dance floor.
  • Continental Club – South Congress staple. It’ll be packed or sold out this weekend for sure, get tickets now.
  • Barfly’s – Proper dive bar. Juke box, pool tables, dark and quiet.
  • The Lost Well – Mostly metal and hardcore bands play here so if you’re a rocker through and through, this is your place.
  • The Little Longhorn – Three words. Chicken Shit Bingo.

So there you have it. If you love all things moto, Austin, TX, is definitely the place to be the weekend of April 12-14.
Let’s party.

All photography by Ryan Everett