If you're coming to Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix, welcome! We're here to answer the most burning question that no one's ever tackled in a local guide: where's the best place to go to the bathroom at the track?

Everyone's familiar with the touristy visitor's guides that come out this time of year: restaurants that you can't get into this week, fun activities in Austin proper that you probably won't have time to do, and assorted overrated listings that just get an eyeball roll and a smile from many locals.

We here at Black Flag wanted to put together an Austin visitor's guide that was actually useful. Everyone poops; there is no shame in it. Which bathrooms at the circuit will give you nightmares befitting Halloween weekend, and which ones are worth a lengthy visit in between races?

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I, personally, have given this topic three years of careful research and study, eating a fiber-rich diet that consists of Tex-Mex, barbecue, various chili peppers known to cause permanent damage in infants, and kombucha with little chia seeds floating in it. (Pro tip: chia is better than Ex-Lax.)

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We've mentioned the perils of track food before, and Circuit of the Americas is no exception. While many delicious local vendors such as Chi'Lantro, Wild Bubba's and SLAB set up shop at the track for Formula One weekend, it will all send you to the bathroom sooner or later. Per the stats, we go through seven miles of hot dogs every F1 weekend, and we're not even a track known for hot dogs.

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So, in order to save you from a horrific session spent in an almost-full porta-potty, we've ranked the bathrooms at Circuit of the Americas from most desirable to least, and included access information for who can get to them.

Factors affecting this highly unscientific but extremely important ranking include:

  • Cleanliness: For obvious reasons.
  • Traffic: The less traveled, the better.
  • Smell: For obvious reasons that tie into the previous two metrics. Porta-potties and highly trafficked loos tend to fail here.
  • Flush style: There are some things that should never be automatic unless you have a specific handicap that mandates it: Miatas, E30s, 944s, and your toilet. Nobody likes getting a surprise flush mid-dookie. Most of COTA's bathrooms are thankfully row-your-own, with few exceptions.
  • Amenities: Air conditioning, ample lighting and other design touches can make your number two a pleasurable experience.
  • Number of stalls: The more, the merrier. Smaller restrooms take a brutal pounding this weekend, while larger ones can allow you several stall options in case some fall victim to the kind of guys who ate ten kimchi tacos and a giant turkey leg.
  • Size: Can you stretch your legs a bit, or are you going to run into a dripping molded plastic urinal?

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I know you're thinking, "but Stef, you're a girl, and the girl's side is always less disgusting." Au contraire. Some of the listed locations are unisex, and I have also consulted with other locals on where is the least revolting place during a busy race weekend to use the facilities. Turns out, the same places that take a pounding on the ladies' side are the same ones that get wrecked on the men's side.

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Example of a unisex garage toilet. Also, Kimi Räikkönen pooped here.

So, without further a-doo-doo, here is our exhaustive guide to relieving yourself at the United States Grand Prix.

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Bernie's Bathrooms

We're not entirely sure Bernie Ecclestone poops like a regular human being. However, given that this pair of spacious, immaculate restrooms is in the small permanent structure across from the garages where the FIA will be holed up all weekend, we're calling them Bernie's Bathrooms.

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Not only are these two potties nicely finished, indoor, air conditioned, barely traveled and spacious, but if you somehow make too much of a mess, there's a shower! Bonus: both bathrooms are fully handicap-accessible, down to including a seat and a detachable shower nozzle.

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Access level: Various FIA and team officials (we think; we're pretty sure we're not allowed in there, that's for sure)

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The Media Center's Great Hall of Bowel Movements

The Media Center bathrooms are a thing of beauty: a secluded, long row of bathrooms at the back of a building limited to media, teams and the other staff who keep the weekend running smoothly. They are frequently cleaned because they're right there in the media building, and we can't have persnickety journos complaining about backed-up urinals. Even if one or two stalls are dirty, you can just go to the next one. Quantity and quality. It's fantastic.

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On top of that, it's one of the most nicely decorated bathrooms at the circuit, and well lit to match.

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Best of all, it's right next to the water fountains. Remember, this is Texas. Any free water, air conditioning, or any other ways to stay cool automatically earns a billion imaginary bonus points.

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I have gone out of my way to relieve myself here over other locations. That's how great the Media Center bathrooms are. Rows of immaculate manual-flush potties for the win.

Access level: Media, staff and teams

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Private Suite Restrooms

If you happen to be enjoying the race from one of the main grandstand suites that's nicer than my apartment, you get your own private bathroom shared only with the other suites in your section.

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These are decorated almost identically to the Media Center toilets, but they add a small little basket of amenities for patrons to use. They're also bright, clean and secluded from the general public.

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A fellow bathroom researcher inspects the suite bathrooms' urinal cakes.

The only reason I didn't rank them higher is because of their size. These are small and out of the way, which makes the quality of your defecation experience highly dependent on your suite-mates.

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Bless your heart if that happens to be a sixtysomething oil tycoon with IBS.

Access level: Main grandstand suite guests only

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Turn 1 Permanent Restrooms

Called "the best kept secret in motorsports defecation" by someone who absolutely did not want to be credited with that quote, Turn 1's light, clean restrooms are among the best.

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The addition of windows above the stalls is key to making the stalls feel more spacious and bright. Furthermore, this clump of indoor, air conditioned toilets is in a relatively remote location at the top of Turn 1. Merely walking up the steep hill that defines Circuit of the Americas' signature first turn is a challenge. As such, few make the long and arduous journey to befoul the best public restroom at the track.

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Turn 1 makes both a great vista to watch cars fight for position at the start of the race as well as a good place to stop for a poo. It's usually clean, and worth the stop even if you only sort of have to go.

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Access level: Everyone

Paddock Club Restrooms

These are nearly identical to the suite bathrooms, only they're for the larger suites and balconies above the garages. They still feature a little basket of amenities, and they're most definitely air conditioned. They're still nice, clean and better attended to than many of the other options, but they do see fairly heavy traffic from teams' guests and Paddock Club attendees who need to drop a deuce.

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Access level: Paddock Club attendees, guests of teams with garage-side suites

Top-Secret Restrooms On The Back Of The Garage Building

These are largely unknown to many people who pass by them. You wouldn't think that one of the nondescript doors behind the garages leads to a restroom. There's a small sign announcing that there's a hidden restroom on the side of the building, but you have to look for it. (It's at the end farthest from the Media Center.) These are largely unnoticed, but air conditioned and fairly private, which is perfect for you bashful poopers who feel the bizarre emotion known as "shame."

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Access level: Main garage paddock only

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White Mobile Restroom Trailers

Circuit of the Americas brings several of these trailers in for the weekend to supplement the turd-bearing capacity of the track. The sleek, white trailers that look more like an RV are the nicer of the two, with nicer finishes inside. These are usually in the paddock and close to suites, making them both convenient and functional. Many people overlook these trailers, probably thinking that they're there for teams or storage, or falsely assuming that they aren't air conditioned. Nope! They're here for you, and they are, in fact, air conditioned to make your number two a fairly comfortable (albeit slightly cramped) stay.

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Access level: Certain rows of suites and paddock locations

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In-Garage Restrooms

If you're in the garage, there's nothing more convenient than running to the bathroom in the garage itself. However, these large one-stallers come with a catch: a second door.

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These toilets are typically shared between two garages. Fail to close both doors and you're in for a world of surprise from the team next door.

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These are, however, very utilitarian but comfortable. They even leave you a plunger! A real, live plunger! It's like they know that the digestive systems of traveling teams don't always agree with the local delicacies.

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Past occupants occasionally leave Easter eggs here (in addition to number ones and number twos). There is the very real and tangible feeling of "someone famous pooped here," however, that doesn't quite make up for the fact that the lights sometimes automatically shut off if you're sitting there for too long.

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Access level: Teams and their guests only

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Beige Mobile Restroom Unit

These are the other style of restroom trailers, which are often overlooked for the messier, more crowded indoor bathrooms at Turn 15. Don't be fooled. This is where you want to go instead. We're calling it a "Mobile Restroom Unit" because that's what it says on the side.

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The finishes aren't as fancy as they are in the white trailers, but these are still a decent option for escaping the heat and releasing the Kraken. Like the white trailers, they are air conditioned, but a tad cramped inside.

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Bonus: these more industrial-grade trailers are, in fact, grounded to the ground. Camries everywhere, be jealous. I also get a kick out of the Mitsubishi mud flaps that tend to come on them. See, Mitsubishi's still involved in motor racing after all!

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...

{ Runs off to a corner in the Media Center and has a nice, long cry }

Access level: Everyone

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Turn 15 Permanent Restrooms

"Oh, look, it's a real indoor toilet with air conditioning!" thinks 99.999999% of the people who pass this loo. For that, it does the job. When caught early in the weekend, it can be an extremely comfortable place to relieve yourself. It's air conditioned. The stalls are normal people sized (as opposed to RV-sized), albeit a little dim and occasionally messy.

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The sink area is generally very neat and clean as well, although heavy traffic means that the countertop usually has a ton of water splashed all over it.

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Access level: Everyone (and boy, do we mean everyone)

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Porta-Potties on Practice Day

These are your bog standard track bogs. They're sprinkled everywhere throughout the facility, including in huge rows behind the esses and behind turn 12. Early in the weekend, they're genuinely not a bad option. The hand washing stations are still full and functioning properly. The potties themselves haven't yet been wrecked by too many out-of-towners whose digestive tracts are unfamiliar with the concept of tacos. It's not bad. Not bad at all. The biggest drawback is the lack of air conditioning, but if you go during the morning, even that's not a huge issue.

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Access level: Everyone

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The Handicrapper

One important disclaimer: priority for the big stalls should always go to those who need them as a physical necessity. I don't care if you were in line first. If that's the stall someone needs to use, your able-bodied buttocks can wait.

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But, hey, if it's open, you get a little extra leg room. The only drawback is that the spacious proportions makes the handicapped porta-john a magnet for everyone, and it tends to get completely buttnihilated far before the smaller stalls do.

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Access level: Everyone

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Turn 15 Family Restroom

"Ha HA! I'll show them! I'll use this family restroom, and enjoy the air conditioning in my own large private single stall." Yeah, the only problem with this line of thinking is that the family pot gets used by actual families and everyone else who thinks they're beating the system. It's a trap! Run away.

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Access level: Everyone

Porta-Potties After Practice Day

Don't get me wrong—these are still a viable option if you can't hold it long enough to get to a more posh palace of poopin'. Be forewarned, however, that a world of foul substances and vile odors awaits you. The hand washing station even gets kind of disheveled, particularly at the Turn 12 stalls that everyone in that corner of the track uses. This experience will haunt you for days as you sweat buckets inside a stinky little plastic turd-enclosure.

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Access level: Everyone

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Huh huh, "stools."

Circuit of the Americas' website does not currently list where all the bathrooms are for this weekend's grand prix in either their current map or their FAQ, so we hope this run-down of where to take the runs is helpful. A map from a previous grand prix weekend that shows all of the usual restroom locations can be found here. That being said, for toilets accessible through a suite, team, official or media pass, it's probably easiest to just look around you for places to have a number two.

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Remember, folks: when nature's callin', don't be stallin'. Err on the side of caution when you feel your bowels start to rumble. Texas' cuisine specializes in deceptively delectable treats that can make you annihilate a bathroom with a giant, miserable poopsplosion.

The least enjoyable scenario when it comes to Formula One weekend is to get stuck in the middle of a crowded grandstand when you desperately need to get to the toilet. Use common sense, and you won't have to soil yourself.