AUSTIN (KXAN) It’s race week in Austin, as hundreds of thousands of folks flock to the Circuit of the Americas for the United States Grand Prix.

This year, tickets sold out months in advance for the 10th anniversary of the F1 race in Austin. This left those trying to watch the race without many options other than paying a hefty fee for three-day pass tickets starting at $275.

COTA launched a contest that gave free admission to the three-day race weekend.

The COTA Best in TX STEM Competition was open to high school and college students studying in the state of Texas. Participants were asked to emulate a Formula 1 team by designing a functional race car part.

COTA’s President of Strategy and Corporate Growth Mark Pannes played a pivotal part in planning this new competition.

“Giving students the opportunity to participate in a competition like this, based around the pinnacle of motorsports, such as F1 auto racing is a great match,” Pannes said.

F4 racer and Austin local Ryan Shehan is a big advocate of this design contest.

“This is the perfect area to have this type of competition,” he said. “COTA is such a big part of Austin now, and motorsports have become part of the culture.”

Students submitted sketches of race car parts. Judges then placed it into a race simulation to see how it performed.

Winners were broken up by high school and college categories with awards handed out for either design or performance.

“STEM is really about the blending the disciplines that allow an F1 team to put a car on the track and be super competitive,” Pannes said.

In auto racing, winning is all about having a flawless team performance. With this in mind, COTA encouraged team participation within its competition.

“Obviously, without engineers racing does not go on,” Shehan said. “So, it’s exciting to see the next generation of engineers.”

Overall, 47 groups entered the competition with a total of 210 participants.

“Submissions have been eye-popping, they’re tremendously sophisticated,” Pannes said. “It speaks to the level of enthusiasm and expertise at the high school and collegiate level in Texas.”

All participating teams will have the opportunity to purchase a $20 ticket to the track for Friday’s festivities.

Additionally, participants will have the chance to meet and learn from a Formula 1 engineer at the program celebration event on Friday at the Germania Insurance Amphitheater.

Winners of the competition will be announced later on Wednesday.