Formula One Could Run a Las Vegas Grand Prix as Soon as 2017
By Ben Keeshin of The Drive
Gambling has been the lifeblood of Las Vegas since Nevada legalized the practice—and simultaneously reduced residency requirements for a divorce to only six weeks—in 1931. It's the American West's most exuberant city, peddling flesh, booze, and mirror-panelled presidential suites while other, homelier municipalities settle for trading corn, pork futures, or steel. Could that mean Las Vegas is just the city to host one of the world's fastest, loudest, and most expensive sports, Formula One racing?
According to the BBC—an outlet The Drive expects would blanche at the idea of Europe's genteel motorsport squealing its tires past the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino—plans for a Las Vegas Grand Prix have “hit top gear,” with much of the roughly $150 million needed in funding to come from a Chinese conglomerate. If rumors are correct, racecars could disturb the Bellagio’s $10 million Chihuly chandelier as soon as next year, granting F1 a 22-race portfolio for 2017. Better yet, the race would reportedly see the cars speeding down the very Las Vegas strip itself, a sight that would surely give Raoul Duke cause to smile.
"There has been discussions of 2018, but it could be as early as 2017," Farid Shidfar, founder of P2M Motorsports, the organizing group behind the race, says. "We need roughly 14 months to prepare for this race."
The BBC claims Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone has long lusted after a Nevada pit-stop for the far-travelling series. He’s been quoted saying that the only reason the deal is not official is because, “The organizer hasn't got a pen." The combination of British enthusiasm, Chinese financial backing, and American hospitality would be a potent one, and we’d love to see a stream of racing cars take to the Vegas strip.
"We have successfully designed a racetrack which is partly on the Las Vegas Strip and does not impact any resort," says Peter Wahl, managing director of Tilke, the firm that designs Formula One's tracks. "The track definitely has its own character and shall provide drivers high-speed challenges with different sharp corners. Best part, the track is designed to host large numbers of spectators."
Many of the other parties that would need to be involved are also reportedly interested in seeing F1 cars tearing around the Vegas streets. Governor Brian Sandoval has repeatedly expressed his interest in bringing Formula One to the city, and Shidfar says the major resorts have all endorsed the proposition.
And maybe the timing is destiny: The last F1 race held in Las Vegas—in fact, inside the Caesar’s Palace parking lot—was a close race ultimately won by Keke Rosberg, father of this season’s leading driver, Nico Rosberg. Winning a Vegas Grand Prix? Now that's one father-son Las Vegas tradition neither party would be ashamed to participate in.