Las Vegas Grand Prix: extravagance and excess

LAS VEGAS | A piece of track on one of the most famous boulevards on the planet, exorbitant prices, astronomical economic benefits and installations in excess of 500 million dollars. To say Las Vegas is literally on steroids this week of auto racing is an understatement.

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Synonymous with luxury and glamour, the grand circus of Formula 1 encourages its new destination to push the boundaries of excess, extravagance and exuberance.

AFP photo


Luxury hotel rooms on the famous “Strip” for more than $5,000 per night instead of $300, ticket packages of $20,000 and more, private parties and expensive banquets by world-famous chefs that reach up to $11,000, new temporary infrastructure overlooking trail in front of the casino, Vegas is literally on the “high”.

* Prices are shown in US dollars

AFP photo

the newspaper visited Nevada last week to observe the final preparations for the 23e and the penultimate round of the F1 calendar. It’s hard to imagine this place, already usually so electrified, on vitamins. However, that is indeed the case.

And as one who has already put his paw on the driver’s championship, Max Verstappen, said in Brazil with brutal honesty: “We’re in Vegas more for the show than the race itself.”

Archive photo, AFP

Big show of the year

These words resonated with Andrew Lanzino, vice president of sports partnerships and event strategy at MGM International, one of the major partners of the Grand Prix since the hotel chain has 14 properties in Las Vegas.

“That’s right, in Vegas it’s always for show,” he stressed, laughing heartily in an interview with Le Journal at the Bellagio. Each race in F1 has its own identity. Well, you can see that we want to make a show out of it, because that’s what we are. Vegas is a show. This race will prove our identity. »

For the first time, F1 organizes its own race, in its facilities. Liberty Media, the owner of the big circus, spent more than $500 million buying land near the Strip to build paddocks and permanent bleachers.

The Paddock Club Suites and Lodges at the Las Vegas Grand Prix offer magnificent views of the high-rise hotels on the Strip. PHOTO FRANÇOIS-DAVID ROULEAU

Photo by François-David Rouleau

F1 and its many partners have no choice but to offer a colorful spectacle at the end of a season marked by the outrageous dominance of Verstappen, winner of 17 races, and the Red Bull team.

On the 6.2 km urban track, the single-seaters will parade in the evening in front of the Bellagio fountain, a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Venetian canals and Caesars Palace with a top speed of more than 320 km/h in addition to rotating around the new attraction, the Sphere. The images promise to capture the imagination.

Founded in 1905, Las Vegas has hosted a number of major sporting events. However, this week of the race is already considered the most important in its history. The approximately 100,000 spectators expected around the track each day should generate economic benefits estimated at $1.3 billion.

In a blind spot

However, the organization of this event did not go smoothly. It caused an uproar in the community as the route crosses the main arteries of the city of 650,000 and receives nearly 40 million visitors a year. It disrupts the heart of the Strip, which is visited by millions of tourists, blocks the main access to facilities and has been disrupting the daily life of tens of thousands of employees who go to work for months. Transportation problems are a huge challenge.

Moreover, since Friday, one side of Las Vegas Boulevard has been closed to traffic for almost two kilometers to complete the installation of the track. More than 140,000 vehicles use this artery every day. All the taxi drivers interviewed by the representative during their travels shared their daily struggles. And for months, independent retailers in the Grand Prix hot zone have said they’ve seen their traffic drop because of the barriers.

The street circuit of Las Vegas is clearly visible on certain streets of the metropolis in Nevada. Near the Sphere, Sands Avenue is a veritable parking lot for traffic. In the background we can see the Palazzo. PHOTO FRANÇOIS-DAVID ROULEAU

Photo by François-David Rouleau

If the price range of hotels located on the ring road is completely exaggerated and has started to rise again before the first turns of the wheels after weeks of discounts, the price range of hotels outside the quadrangle is more reasonable. It is still possible to book a night between 100 and 250 dollars.

As for the prices of the many tickets still available, you could mortgage your house for most of them since they vary between $220 and $9,000 depending on the package you choose. But hey, this price includes food by renowned international chef Wolfgang Puck…

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