In 1982, the United States became the first country to host three races in a single Formula One World Championship season. The trio of events featured races in Long Beach, downtown Detroit, and Las Vegas in the infamous parking lot at Caesars Palace. Another country wouldn’t hold three F1 races in the same year until Italy during the pandemic-affected 2020 season. With the addition of the Miami Grand Prix for the 2022 season, the U.S. seems to be on the verge of hosting three grands prix in a future season.
No time seems like a better time for the U.S. to have three F1 races than now. Based on reported ticket sales, it is estimated that 120,000 spectators attended the Friday practice sessions for the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. It is an incredible amount of fans to go through the gates at the Circuit of the Americas on a Friday. For comparison, 111,580 fans were in attendance on race day for the 2018 United States Grand Prix, which was the fourth highest attended F1 event that season. Again, this year’s Friday practices outdrew 2018’s race day.
The popularity of Formula One in the United States has seemingly grown over the past few years. This growth has largely been attributed to Formula 1: Drive to Survive, the docuseries Drive to Survive followed in the wake of other similar sport docuseries originating with HBO’s Hard Knocks, which follows a different National Football League team each year through its preseason training camp. Though, the Formula One docuseries arguably has had the largest impact on its subject sport relative to the other docuseries. I won’t get bogged down trying to explain why this is the case, what’s next?
The second race has finally come to fruition after aspirations of a downtown circuit over Port Miami Bridge were squashed, Formula One had to settle for a venue 17 miles north of downtown Miami. The Miami Grand Prix will take place on a circuit around Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. A potential third race in the U.S. is already being openly discussed by those in the sport as being slated for Las Vegas. It is not clear where precisely F1’s return event will take place. Though, it’s not too bold to assume that many within Formula One would like a grand prix on the Las Vegas Strip.
Will these new races be feasible long-term events? Miami and Las Vegas are already destination cities in the United States, meaning it won’t be difficult for fans to fly in for the weekend and promoters won’t have to rely on area residents to attend the race. Personally, I’m not a big fan of Formula One’s recent influx of street circuits. But, I understand that having races near population centers makes it easier for race organizers to plan spectator transport to and from the track each day.
Yes, these races should be able to survive long-term as long as Formula One maintains its new-found popularity in the United States. It will be interesting to see how the Formula One World Championship would evolve if it had to cater to the desires of the viewing public, instead of the corporate and state interests that usually financially fuel the sport.