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Las Vegas Grand Prix on track for 2018 debut

NEWS STORY
11/06/2016

The organiser of a Grand Prix which is set to take place on the streets of Las Vegas has told the BBC that he is targeting a 2018 debut after a Chinese conglomerate agreed to invest the 100m he needs to get the race off the ground.

"They are very close to Las Vegas and have got businesses in media, sport, technology and entertainment, so they are a massive conglomerate," says American entrepreneur Farid Shidfar, founder of organising group P2M Motorsports.

"They came to us out of the blue late last year, because of the initiatives they are involved with in the state of Nevada, and we have been in due diligence since then. The benefits they will derive are very strategic so that's why they are very excited about it."

Shidfar adds that "there has been discussions of 2018, but it could be as early as 2017. We need roughly 14 months to prepare for this race."

The previous Grand Prix in Las Vegas took place in 1981 (pictured) and 1982 in the car park of gambling mecca Ceasars Palace, but Shidfar's plans are far more spectacular. His track includes the world-famous Las Vegas Strip, a stretch of road lined with casinos and hotels. This would be perhaps the most well-known backdrop to an F1 race and it has driven some to deride the plan due to the alleged difficulty of closing the Strip. Shidfar says that in fact it couldn't be further from the truth as not only have all of the resorts on the Strip voted in favour of closing it for the race but they have offered to cover some of the costs.

At a meeting of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority in 2014, "every major resort unanimously voted in favour of carrying out F1 racing on the Strip," says Shidfar. "The resort community has shown interest in helping subsidise this" as it would boost their bookings and gambling takings he adds.

It reflects a study for economic diversification commissioned by Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval last year which recommended an F1 race as it would attract a high number of international visitors.

Pitpass has also seen a letter written by Sandoval to F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone offering "support and interest in bringing Formula One Grand Prix to the world famous Las Vegas Strip".

The track has been created by F1 track design firm Tilke and its managing partner Peter Wahl says it "is partly on the Las Vegas Strip and does not impact any resort. The track definitely has its own character and shall provide drivers with high-speed challenges with different sharp corners. Best part, the track is designed to host large numbers of spectators, and I can't wait to see the first car fire up. I believe the Vegas race will become one of the highlights of the F1 calendar."

P2 Motorsports co-founder Russell Dixon says "the race will cost investors nearly $150m (103m) including hosting fees" and all that remains is confirmation that the state will support it. "The key party in terms of making this happen is the state. It's not the investor. The investor is happy to proceed so long as there is some formality about the contribution from the state," says Shidfar.

He adds that "the government is showing interest in putting money in," as F1 would also help to reverse declining gaming revenues in Las Vegas. It is no surprise given the attention and crowds that this would bring to Las Vegas.

In Sin City there is no such thing as a racing certainty but the boost this race would bring is as close as it gets.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 15/06/2016 4:45

"Sounds too kitschy even for Las Vegas. I fully expect this race will happen. F1 has been going for kitsch over substance for years now."

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2. Posted by alejandro.torres.1991, 13/06/2016 15:02

"We all know this is going to end exactly as the Korean and Indian Grands Prix did."

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3. Posted by mickl, 13/06/2016 9:41

"IF this happens, Las Vega will just cannibalise Austin's race and take it's crowds as the venues will be too close to each other geographically. So, a purpose built venue that is like by fans & drivers or what could be literally a Mickey Mouse track....

And comparing people who want to watch a race compared to watching the filming of a movie is laughable. People on the strip will watch any idiot that flicks past FOR FREE, try charging them $2-300 for the privilege....."

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4. Posted by John Stedman, 12/06/2016 9:47

"An excellent high-concept idea, and just what Las Vegas and Formula One need to push their branding in a positive direction. With the diversification of Vegas away from a pure gambling venue, and the momentum already generated by the Austin race, Formula One has a real opportunity here to make real progress in the First World, and to appeal to high earners of all ages. Judging by the crowds that crowded in to see the filming of the new Jason Bourne car chase on The Strip four months ago, the proposed event would be a sellout and make for phenomenal TV. Nevada, make this happen!"

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5. Posted by petes, 11/06/2016 20:05

"Come on now........What a lot of hogwash, pie-in-the-sky, pure rubbish."

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6. Posted by bfairey, 11/06/2016 15:16

"Rich bums in seats."

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7. Posted by F One, 11/06/2016 12:12

"Please just NO!"

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