Take A Spin Through The History Of Crime And F1 In Caesars Palace Grand Prix

Did you know F1's history in the United States is tied up in organized crime?

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Take A Spin Through The History Of Crime And F1 In Caesars Palace Grand Prix
Photo: Elizabeth Blackstock

Anyone who has followed Formula One knows that the series has a bit of a complex relationship with the United States and any of the Grands Prix hosted here — but there’s a good chance you didn’t know how closely intertwined the US Grand Prix was with organized crime. Thankfully, Randall Cannon is here to give you the full history in Caesars Palace Grand Prix: Las Vegas, Organized Crime and the Pinnacle of Motorsport.

(Welcome back to the Jalopnik Race Car Book Club, where we all get together to read books about racing and you send in all your spicy hot takes. In honor of being trapped indoors, I’ve made the reading a little more frequent; every two weeks instead of every month. This week, we’re looking at Caesars Palace Grand Prix: Las Vegas, Organized Crime, and the Pinnacle of Motorsport by Randall Cannon.)

The F1 Grand Prix at Caesars Palace was a bit of a mess. It lasted two years for F1 and another two for American open-wheel racing before falling off the calendar — so it might seem a little weird to see a near-400 page book about the race.

Advertisement

Buckle in, though, because this book is a ride.

Caesars Palace Grand Prix details the history of motorsport in America, which developed alongside organized crime. It all coincided at Caesars Palace in the early 1980s — but author Cannon wants to make sure you’re well aware of how the world’s most prestigious racing series ended up in the parking lot of a casino. You’ll run through the tales of failed US Grands Prix past in order to end up in Vegas, America’s hub of gambling.

Advertisement

Trying to sum up this book in a few paragraphs is next to impossible. The web of organized crime and auto racing is vast, and Cannon has pieced it all together in an exceptional way. You’ll be privy to FBI files, interviews, old newspaper stories, and more, with some key figures popping up in both Sebring and Caesars Palace. You’ll learn about F1's ties to gangster Meyer Lansky. You’ll watch the greatest form of international motorsport fall victim to corruption. This isn’t a book so much as it is a saga. And as with all good sagas, you’re going to have to see it play out with your own two eyes.

I do have some words of advice for anyone reading this book: You’ll probably want to make sure you find the right balance between reading it all at once and taking your time. Cannon is running through a ton of history here, with the organized crime and racing developing in tandem. You’re going to learn a lot of names. You’re going to have to follow a lot of threads. It helps to keep a solid reading pace, but if you read too fast, you’ll also find that you’re receiving a lot of the same establishing information at the same time. Cannon is careful to reintroduce important players when they pop back up to make sure readers remember where this person fit in, but if you read quickly, the repetition can feel tedious.

Advertisement

That being said, Caesars Palace Grand Prix is an absolute masterpiece of a book, and it’s a necessity for any American F1 fan.

And that’s all we have for this week’s Jalopnik Race Car Book Club! Make sure you tune in again on February 14, 2022. We’re going to be reading A Turn at the Wheel by Stirling Moss.