Home » Who Is The Formula One Race In Las Vegas For?

Who Is The Formula One Race In Las Vegas For?

Las Vegas F1
ADVERTISEMENT

I’ve been on a motorsports kick lately, what with Le Mans coming up and the Indy 500 in our rearview. I’ll even be attending an F1 race this year, but it won’t be Las Vegas. It’s clear F1 Vegas is going to be the party-to-end-all-parties for people who are richer or cooler than I am, which is not a high bar to clear. With race packages topping out at $5 million, the question is: who is this race for, exactly? If you’re not into motorsports, I’ll also touch on the return of Chinese car-incentives, a Consumer Reports plea to standardize crash alerts, and a big UAW fight that’s coming over battery jobs.

F1 Las Vegas Will Be The Most Expensive F1 Race

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Saying your F1 race will be the most expensive F1 race is a little like saying you’ve got the biggest Hummer. It is a superlative on top of a superlative. I’m not sure there’s a cheap F1 race, but there are plenty of pricy affairs. There’s the Monaco Grand Prix, which is effectively a parade running between a wealthy principality and a yacht show. There’s the sexy beach party that is Miami. Hell, Stef Schrader did a great job in her article talking about how the F1 race in Austin is not as much for car fans as it is for the elite of the elite.

That the costs for F1 Vegas are going to be outrageous is no surprise. My pal Jenna Fryer had a great writeup last year that previewed what was coming:

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told The Associated Press the Las Vegas Grand Prix will be the most expensive fan experience on next year’s 24-race calendar, particularly from a VIP experience.

Tickets were scheduled to go on sale late Saturday night with the price of admission starting at $500 for a three-day general admission pass. Those seats were only added after fans complained that hotels planned to purchase massive ticket blocks and repackage them\

Another pal, Hannah Elliott, has an even bigger roundup of the $5 million experiences, crazy events, and other excitement around the event in Bloomberg.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I don’t know anyone who’s going to Vegas who’s not involved in F1, media or with a brand,” says Lily Herman, who writes the F1 culture newsletter Engine Failure. “These Grand Prix weekends have become more like music festivals in terms of the vibe, the money spent. I don’t know an average Joe American going on a median individual salary to Vegas.”

Meanwhile, Vegas is “an easy sell to stakeholders,” says Vincenzo Landino, who writes a motor sports newsletter called the Qualifier. The Clark County Commission’s landmark decision on Feb. 8 to grant permission for the race to be staged on the Strip until 2032 only strengthens the appeal, he says.

[…]

This delta between the audience that brands want to reach directly and the broader actual F1 fan base has created a dynamic in which high rollers flock to glitzy cities such as Vegas and Miami for weekend-long orgies of opulence. Meanwhile, devotees of the sport who follow weekly standings and geek out over their favorite drivers—but lack access to corporate boondoggles—save their money to attend one race a year in a less expensive market, or don’t go at all. To wit: Netflix Inc.’s gossipy F1 documentary series, Drive to Survive, has pushed the sport’s popularity perhaps more than any other single activator. Still, half of the platform’s subscribers make less than $50,000 annually; an additional 30% make less than $100,000.

The Formula E race in Brooklyn was a lot of fun the two times I went, even if it felt more like a business conference than an actual race. Liberty Media, owners of F1, are an in interesting position here. It’s done an incredible job of making people in the United States care about F1 and has given us three races within our borders and two nearby (Mexico City and Montreal). We’ve got two street courses and one honest-to-goodness real track. Everyone is talking about the sport. The flipside, as Stef pointed out, is that regular fans without a huge amount of disposable income can get pushed to the side a little.

Currently, it seems like the Vegas and Miami races are for: rich people, celebrities, the media, and fans who are wealthy enough to afford a ticket. Austin F1 is a little more affordable and seems to attract a lot of new followers of the sport. The Bloomberg piece mentions that European races are less expensive and so it’s sometimes easier to just make a trip elsewhere if you’re an obsessed fan.

The pendulum will probably swing back towards affordability once the hype dies down and, hopefully, Liberty Media can find the sweet spot between popularity and approachability. In the interim, it’s hard to blame them for making money while the money is there.

Consumer Reports: Automakers Shouldn’t Charge For Automatic Crash Reporting

Byd Crash

Consumer Reports is in the interesting position of being a non-profit news agency backed by regular folks (and some rich, mostly progressive people). In addition to reporting on toasters and cars and such, the magazine also has advocacy as a part of its mission. The latest target? Automatic crash notification systems.

ADVERTISEMENT

Currently, most new vehicles have some sort of automatic crash notification system that alerts the authorities if there’s an accident. Here’s an analysis from Consumer Reports on the availability of crash detection across the market. Right now Acura/Honda, Hyundai, JLR, Mazda, Audi, Polestar, Porsche, and Volvo offer this for free on their vehicles for life. If you get a Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes, Ram, Toyota or Volkswagen, you get it for a period of 5-to-10 years on most or all vehicles from those brands.

Everyone else charges at some point before five years or doesn’t offer the technology at all. This is bad. This should be free. Consumer Reports thinks doing so would save 700 lives a year. According to The Detroit News, there’s a big campaign coming to convince the holdouts to make this a widely available and free feature:

“People injured in a crash shouldn’t have critical medical care delayed because they choose not to pay for features like remote start or a mobile hot spot,” said William Wallace, Consumer Reports’ associate director of safety policy. “It’s one thing for automakers to charge extra for conveniences, but this is about safety, and safety isn’t optional.”

Agreed. 

[Editor’s Note: I’d have to think about this a little more. I’m fine with this particular tech being free (and in general I don’t like subscriptions for car features), but I’m not sure I agree entirely with CR’s broad point about “safety shouldn’t be optional” (Even though I understand that aligns with one of CR’s main missions). I think there’s no limit to how many safety features an automaker can offer, and to require every one to be free doesn’t seem reasonable, and could disincentivize an automaker from developing it in the first place. This is a complex topic, of course. -DT]. 

The Chinese Government Is Doing Incentives Again

Byd Car1 1024x576

One of the default positions of late capitalism and quasi-capitalist controlled markets like China share is that the graph always has to go up-and-to-the-right. This means that there always has to be growth, because it’s someone’s job to make growth occur. Grow, grow, grow. This isn’t sustainable, of course, and rather than try to flatten towards an average, instead, societies under these economies have to endure large and costly downward shocks followed by quick upswings that don’t often benefit everyone proportionally.

ADVERTISEMENT

I mentioned earlier this week that Chinese suppliers were complaining that the sudden loss of demand due to the lack of incentives meant those suppliers were getting squeezed. The solution? Incentives are back, bay-bee.

Per Reuters:

The commerce ministry said it would coordinate and push local authorities to roll out targeted policies and measures in favour of car consumption. Financial institutions will be encouraged to introduce measures to boost lending for auto purchases, it said.

The campaign will target multiple car sales categories including both new and secondhand vehicles, it added, and push to replace gasoline cars with new energy vehicles (NEVs) such as battery-driven cars and plug-in petrol-electric hybrids.

It’s their country and we’re not ones to talk, but the world turned orange outside my window yesterday and the sun became  an eerie phosphorescent copper color so I’m not super excited to read sentences like “targeted policies and measures in favour of car consumption.” At least they’re hybrids and electric cars, I guess.

The UAW Is Rushing To Help Battery Workers

Solid Power Battery Plant
Photo credit: Solid Power

With the rush to build as many battery plants as possible is also a campaign by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to secure fair wages for those individuals. None of this is going to be straightforward or easy, and it could be a plant-by-plant fight, especially given that these new facilities need fewer workers-per-vehicle than traditional automotive production facilities.

From Bloomberg via Automotive News:

ADVERTISEMENT

The dispute could be lengthy and complex, since the 18,000 or so workers those carmakers — General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis — plan to hire in the U.S. will work for a patchwork of joint ventures not covered by existing labor contracts. The new corporate structures also mean the UAW might have to craft new deals for each plant.

The outcome of the negotiations, due to kick off in July and accelerate in the fall, could have far-reaching consequences — not just for auto workers sweating the move to electrification. As producers of everything from EV batteries to semiconductors, along with miners and processors of lithium, try to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., unions will fight to represent a new generation of workers doing jobs that moved abroad decades ago.

I’m a union man so you’ll get nothing but solidarity from me. The Inflation Reduction Act (and CHIPS Act) should result in foreign manufacturing coming back to the United States for the first time in generations so it makes sense that the UAW sees this as an existential issue.

The Big Question

When was the last time you went to a race? Are you going to a race soon? Do you care, at all, about motorsports? If not, why not?

Photos: Petronas F1, BYD

Popular Stories

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
113 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago

The last race I watched was this year’s 12 hours of Sebring which ended up being the best race I’ve ever been to. Went with my aunt, uncle, and daughter and we all had a really unexpectedly great time.

Aside from noticing that Cadillac had gotten back into racing, I hadn’t ever paid much attention to IMSA or WEC races. That’s now changed.

We went into the planning phase thinking that everything would be super expensive, but it ended up being rather reasonable. I think the two-day passes I got were around $120 each, food was cheaper than the county fair, and Yuengling talls were a fair-enough five bucks. Even the merch tent wasn’t bad. Of course, free lodging always helps and it was nice that my aunt and uncle had just bought a place about five miles from the track.

The racing was terrific – I loved how the sound was just everywhere as we wandered around the infield, alternating between watching the race, and checking out the various car-related stuff to be found. Several places were set up where one could watch a broadcast of the race to catch up on who was actually leading. The cars themselves were amazing – growing up on Nascar and dirt track racing, I greatly appreciated that these race cars had functional doors, headlights, and even windshield wipers.

I was also amazed at how one could just show up in the paddock on the morning of the race and check things out. Standing there outside of Cadillac’s area and watching these amazing machines get towed by, mere feet from where we were standing, felt just about worth the price of admission by itself.

Hanging out on the starting grid that morning was yet another cherry on the racing Sunday. The constant, frenetic energy was something to behold. We were four total noobs wondering around with the biggest smiles on our faces just trying to take it all in. Somehow, we ended up right in front of the local marching band as they started to play, another fun surprise for my daughter who’s in marching band and qualifies as a music nerd in general.

Those type of surprises managed to land all day. We didn’t realize we’d be able to test drive a variety of GM’s latest offerings, including a new Camaro, not to mention get free hats and shirts for doing so. Didn’t expect to sit in a Corvette C8 or Escalade V-series either. Overall, I don’t think any of us and been expecting to be that entertained for almost 15 straight hours.

We also didn’t expect Cadillac to win! It was quite the end of the race. About 30 minutes before, we moved from the curve we had camped at for awhile to watch the main infield Jumbotron to see what was going on. 18 minutes prior to finish, the “absolute chaos” occurred which allowed the remaining Cadillac GTP #31 to win the race.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_2NLcTU0ck

Hearing that car roar through the finish line while watching it on the big screen, with fireworks going off shortly thereafter just capped off one of the best events of any sort I’ve ever been to. Like my daughter said: “We need to make this “a thing’ each year from now on!” I’m already planning for next year’s return.

Last edited 1 year ago by Boulevard_Yachtsman
Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
1 year ago

I love IMSA and WEC so dang much. Everything’s so open to look at, there’s plenty of time to walk around and see the track from different spots, and it’s always a huge party at the tracks that encourage campers to hang out the whole weekend. Endurance racing FTW.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Couldn’t agree more! In fact, another of the things we did was walk the entire perimeter of the track the best we could. And the party crowd is indeed excellent! We talked to several people while on that walk – everyone was great. It’s so fun to be surrounded by so many people so into cars. I definitely have to try infield camping there some year going forward.

Space
Space
1 year ago

I have heard that you can see the race for free on the Vegas strip if you bring something to help you see over the tall barriers.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
1 year ago

“Who Is The Formula One Race In Las Vegas For?”

Google the average temperature at 10:00 PM local time in late November in Las Vegas for the answer. It is for people who own parkas.

Strangek
Strangek
1 year ago

I’m headed to Road America next weekend for IndyCar and I’m going to the Grand Prix of Monterey in September! I went to the F1 race in Austin back in ’19. It was great, but I’m feeling a little priced out of that scene these days.

Last edited 1 year ago by Strangek
10MM Socket
10MM Socket
1 year ago

If you want to attend an F1 race on the cheap contact you local SCCA branch and ask them how to go about volunteering for flagging and communication marshal positions & intervention marshal. Spend three years volunteering a couple SCCA races a year to gain experience then apply to work the F1 race of your choice and enjoy the free race access and FIA discounts hotel or camping if you are accepted. Super easy!

Rock Burner
Rock Burner
1 year ago

The last time I went to a Formula 1 race: it was Silverstone, and it was Damon Hill’s debut F1 race (in a car from the previous year, starting and finishing last)*….. and it was an overwhelming capitalistic spew-fest of merch-vendors, non-interested hangers-on and a distinct lack of access to anything for the normal punter THEN!

Compare that to the Isle of Man TT paddock where the normal bloke can “pretty much” wander in and start chatting to riders/mechanics at will (within reason – be annoying and they’ll tell you, rightly, to get lost!)

F1 racing is now all about money and profit, the race enthusiast has been completely forgotten about.

  • geez, when was that…. 1992! Actually he was in that year’s Brabham (totally uncompetitive)
113
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x