F1 Las Vegas: From Caesars Palace to 2023's Grandeur

September 5, 2023

HistoryLas Vegas

Las Vegas, the shimmering oasis of Nevada, is globally recognized for its vibrant nightlife centered around 24-hour casinos and other entertainment options. It's no surprise that the world of Formula 1, with its spectacle and speed, found a place in this city's rich tapestry. F1 Las Vegas history is as thrilling as a lap on the track.

Caesars Palace Grand Prix: The Historical Backdrop

Ceasars Palace Grand Prix Circuit

Las Vegas was integrated into the F1 calendar as Watkins Glen, the regular host for the United States Grand Prix, faced financial challenges after the 1980 event. Caesars Palace boldly stepped in, transforming its parking lot into a temporary race circuit, all within 45 days. This rapid construction provided a capacity for 45,000 spectators but left the track with a peculiar character. The smooth surface and vast overtaking opportunities were its strengths, but the dust, minimal grip, and Nevada's desert sun were challenges for the drivers. Many suffered from heat-stroke, compounded by the strain of the track's anti-clockwise layout—giving rise to the term "Las Vegas neck."

A notable figure of this 1981 race was Nelson Piquet, who, despite the tough conditions, played a vital role in this championship race. In an unforeseen turn, he required a massage from boxer Sugar Ray Leonard's masseur due to the immense physical strain. Another intriguing element was the involvement of Paul Newman, not just as an actor but a successful driver and team owner, who played the role of the race director.

Unique to this race was its scheduling. Typically, F1 races are held on Sundays. However, due to the casino's demand for the parking lot by Sunday morning, this particular Grand Prix was raced on a Saturday. This alteration led to an additional practice session on the Wednesday prior.

In the 1981 championship battle, Alan Jones' Williams teammate, Carlos Reutemann, led Nelson Piquet of Brabham by just one point. An intense fight ensued with Reutemann starting on pole position. But the race witnessed several twists and turns, with Nelson Piquet emerging as the World Champion by a single point. Alan Jones celebrated his decisive win in style, walking up to the podium with a can of beer in hand, embodying the spirit of victory.

Several other noteworthy events peppered this race. Gilles Villeneuve's disqualification, Mario Andretti's retirement, and local hero Patrick Tambay's high-speed crash made the 1981 Grand Prix unforgettable. The Caesars Palace parking lot bid adieu to the World Championship after the 1982 season finale. Reasons cited were the significant losses faced by the hotel due to small crowds and the track's lesser popularity compared to the Long Beach circuit.

The Caesars Palace Grand Prix played a vital role in the F1 calendar for just a few years. It was an F1 Las Vegas event in 1981 and 1982. Later, it became a part of the CART series from 1983 to 1984. Curious about the Grand Prix results? Dive into our interactive map to explore: 1981, 1982.

The 2023 Formula 1 Grand Prix: A New Dawn

The allure of F1 Las Vegas was undeniable, and it was only a matter of time before it beckoned once more. As we approach 2023, the buzz surrounding the race is palpable. The city, ever-evolving, is undergoing significant transformations to accommodate this global event.

One of the most talked-about changes is the removal of Caesars Palace's iconic rotunda. This 5,006-square-foot Roman-themed marvel has long been a landmark. Its demolition signifies Las Vegas's commitment to embracing new traditions while paying homage to its past.

For the elite racing enthusiasts and the world's crème de la crème, Caesars Palace offers an exclusive "Emperor Package". Imagine staying five nights in the opulent Nobu Sky Villa, indulging in culinary delights from Michelin-starred chef Nobu Matsuhisa, enjoying round-the-clock butler service, and getting premier access to the F1 Paddock Club. Oh, and did we mention tickets to an Adele concert? Explore this epitome of luxury here.

Costs and Logistics: Building the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix Track

The Las Vegas Grand Prix, slated to be the premier event of 2023, has rapidly approached with significant behind-the-scenes activity. F1 drivers will soon blaze down parts of the iconic Strip, converting the heart of Vegas into a racing marvel. Yet, crafting this circuit is a complex blend of engineering and financial prowess.

Key officials from Founding Partners like Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, and Wynn Resorts have meticulously attended numerous Grand Prix events, deepening their understanding of F1 intricacies. Their immersion underscores a collaborative vision: ensuring Las Vegas' debut transcends standards and offers a mesmerizing fan experience.

Safety and construction have been monumental undertakings. Over 85% of the bespoke pits and paddock complex, situated off East Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane, stands ready. Further, public routes have been repaved to shape the track. CEO Steve Hill reveals, “The entire circuit has the initial asphalt layers laid.” Yet, he acknowledged challenges such as disruptive paving and ambitious projects like a bridge for hotel access. In face of unanticipated obstacles like underground cables and heightened security demands from casinos, costs burgeoned. However, this hasn't deterred F1 and Las Vegas from viewing the Grand Prix as a lasting venture. With both locked in an initial three-year contract, the robust infrastructure indicates a long-haul commitment.

Formula 1's deep financial stake in the Grand Prix is evident. They've acquired land housing the pits and first circuit segment, envisioning its utilization beyond just the Grand Prix weekend. This investment might sprout karting events, supercar showcases, Super Bowl parties, and diverse entertainment galas. With legislation greenlighting the Grand Prix until 2032, eyes are already on 2024, highlighting ambitions beyond the inaugural race.

The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix: Racing Reimagined and A Look Ahead

The upcoming F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix promises more than just racing. It's set to be a blend of entertainment, luxury, and top-tier motorsport action. The iconic Vegas Strip, known for its glitz and glamour, will soon reverberate with the roar of F1 engines.

The city's dedication to this event is evident. Despite numerous challenges, the advanced pits and paddock complex is nearing completion. The F1 community and the city's administration are pulling all stops to make this a landmark event. As Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention states, "Las Vegas offers a lot, but Formula 1 will be its masterpiece."

Las Vegas is a city that never stands still. This Grand Prix is another chapter in its storied history of evolution and reinvention. As the race date approaches, the excitement is tangible, and the world waits with bated breath to witness the union of Las Vegas's flamboyance with F1's adrenaline-packed action.

Before you leave, don't forget to mark your calendar for race day. And after the checkered flag waves and the celebrations begin, take a moment to dive deep into the race analytics. Our interactive season map offers comprehensive results, lap charts, and the latest standings.

Privacy PolicyTerms of UseContact Us

© 2022 All rights reserved.

Twitter is unofficial and is not associated in any way with the Formula 1 companies. F1, FORMULA ONE, FORMULA 1, FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, GRAND PRIX and related marks are trade marks of Formula One Licensing B.V. The information provided in this website is for general information purposes only.