F1 returns to Vegas, baby!

There’s been a United States Grand Prix in this country, off and on, since 1908. The race has taken place at venues including the countryside around Watkins Glen, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and through the bumpy streets around downtown Detroit. For two years, during the early 1980s, the pinnacle of global motorsport also wound its way through Las Vegas, on a temporary circuit that largely consisted of access roads and parking lots around the Caesars Palace casino complex. F1 did some foundation rattling this week by announcing that its slate of races in the United States is going to grow again, with a planned 2023 round of F1 on a new street circuit that will incorporate a significant chunk of the fabled Las Vegas Strip.

Formula 1 is already rolling out one new event on these shores next month, the Grand Prix stop through the streets of Miami, joining its late-season date at the Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas. It’s part of a growing trend in auto racing – think about the heavily rumored street race for the Cup series that NASCAR allegedly plans to announce in Chicago – to bring events closer to where people actually live and play, as opposed to the longstanding motorsport business model of having fans drive out into the boondocks, where most race tracks are necessarily located. The notion of the Strip getting shut down for anything short of a comet strike boggles the mind, but F1 has already drafted a proposed 3.8-mile, 14-corner street circuit that includes a flat-out run right down Las Vegas Boulevard. First thing, Lost Wages gets an NFL team, and now this. Unlike the last time F1 hit town, this one ought to be a screaming success. With public support – think Long Beach – pro-level racing in urban areas can indeed be hugely profitable. No losers here.

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