Why Las Vegas might not be a race for the fans

Ed Spencer discusses why the Las Vegas Grand Prix on November 17-18 might not be an event for hardcore motorsport fans

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Las Vegas, Nevada a city which prides itself on being the self-proclaimed party capital of the world and the mecca for gamblers who want to strike it rich.

In the past, “Sin City” has hosted significant sporting events such as the NFL, the NHL, heavyweight title bouts and, in the 1980s, Formula 1.

It wasn’t any old race either, with Las Vegas hosting the 1981-82 season finales as Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg hit the jackpot, becoming world champions.

That was the only upside, however, as Vegas’ first attempt at a Grand Prix circuit was a rather sad and sorry layout based around the Caesars Palace car park, which drivers and fans alike hated.

F1 wouldn’t return for over three decades, but this year, the third Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place on Saturday night around Sin City’s most prominent landmarks.

However, the race has been controversial, with some believing it will be a spectacle that will put Monte Carlo to shame, while others point to the astronomical cost of attending and the somewhat vanilla layout.

The cost of attending the race has been one of its biggest talking points, with tickets starting from $500 for general admission. Add in hotels and flights, and the costs go well into the thousands.

So here’s why the Las Vegas GP might have priced out a few fans from attending what, on paper, should be an orgy of razzmatazz, glamour, celebrities and fast cars.

Money, money, money

Attending a Grand Prix isn’t cheap at the best of times, particularly with the increased demand resulting from F1’s recent upsurge in popularity, causing several races to sell out for months in advance.

Tickets for Las Vegas sold out within minutes of release leaving only the hospitality tickets valued at a staggering €7,824 left for purchase.

77% of hotels in the city are fully booked via Booking.com, whilst direct return flights cost over £2000, meaning fans will have spent over three thousand dollars before the action starts.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the $1m hospitality package from Wynn Resorts that includes a butler, paddock club tickets, spa treatments and a personal sushi chef inside a three-bed duplex.

Regardless of budget, Las Vegas will be a race that can’t be done cheaply, unlike some of F1’s other big-ticket races, such as Monte Carlo, Yas Marina and Miami.

For context, a weekend in Monte Carlo with flights, hotels and a ticket in hospitality included will set you back £2,818, whilst, for Las Vegas, it will cost £5,190 with a grandstand seat.

Limited viewing spots

Whilst not plentiful, street circuits have some viewing areas for fans who simply don’t want to or can’t afford to pay for a ticket.

Some even have the luxury of watching the race from their balconies, but for fans flocking to Las Vegas hoping to snap up a vantage point for next to nothing, that won’t be an option.

Because the circuit is based around the famous strip F1, sponsors will be keen to take every square of advertising space for their perspective products.

That means unless fans duck below the sponsorship hoardings or have to befriend a marshal, a difficult task, chances are you’ll have to watch the race from a bar.

Even if fans have the money to splash over a thousand dollars on a grandstand seat, only half of the track is covered with grandstands, while sector two has none.

Las Vegas Strip | REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

Late start times and a-listers desire to be seen

These two reasons on paper may sound trivial, but they can possibly disrupt the weekend.

Las Vegas will start at 22:00 local time, two hours later than the other night races, Jeddah and Singapore, meaning that fans will leave the track around midnight, providing no red flags come out.

That means for fans unfortunate enough not to secure a hotel on the strip a, scramble for a taxi or hop on a likely crowded metro until arrival at their destination.

As for paddock club ticket holders, they may find it more challenging to reach their idols due to the number of likely celebrities attending the race.

It may cause trouble for personnel as their daily tasks will be massively inconvenienced by throngs of z-listers standing in the middle of the paddock for no good reason other than securing the perfect selfie.

All of this adds up to a race that fans may decide to give a wide birth towards after one experience.

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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