Series to run the Strip

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — In a jiffy, the lights were out on the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Then bright red strobes flashed up and down the iconic Las Vegas Blvd. to announce the arrival of Formula 1.

The world’s most glamorous motorsport series will add a third US race to the 2023 calendar – a Saturday night event on the Strip – as F1 continues to expand its North American footprint.

F1 will do 50 laps around a temporary 3.8-mile urban course next November which will feature the Bellagio, Caesars Palace and the MSG Sphere among the circuit’s many landmarks. F1 will promote the event alongside Liberty Media Corp., F1’s US parent company.

It will be the first F1 race promoted by Liberty, which took over as F1 rights holder in 2017 and has been firmly focused on growing the series in the United States. ESPN said Sunday’s race viewership in Saudi Arabia broke the network’s single-week record and was ESPN’s biggest F1 viewership since 1995.

The fourth season of Netflix docuseries “Drive To Survive” dropped earlier this month to huge ratings; the look behind the rope at the F1 ranked No. 1 in 33 countries the weekend of its release. This has made the US market irresistible, and F1 and Liberty are keenly seeking any eyeballs they can attract.

“It’s our home market, which makes it more interesting, and it’s obviously the biggest economy in the world, the biggest disposable income,” Greg Maffei, president and CEO of Liberty Media, told the Associated Press. “It’s an opportunity that hadn’t been pursued historically and that’s where we think a lot of our growth can come from.”

But unlike most of the F1 calendar, a host country does not check the series for the right to host a grand prix. Liberty and F1 are the promoters – there are official partners in the effort – and have an initial three-year deal with Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas race will be the third stop in the United States next season for F1, which has been racing at Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas since 2012 and making its May debut in Miami. Barring any upheavals, existing races in Mexico City and Montreal will bring F1 to North America five times next season.

COTA, which around five years ago struggled to attract 100,000 fans over a three-day F1 weekend, had well over 300,000 fans last season. This year’s inaugural race in Miami sold out in one day, and COTA is also already sold out.

And that’s why F1 is so certain the market can support a third race in the United States. No other country hosts more than two races per season.

“We know how to run this business and we know how to add the right element to make the right assessment,” F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told AP. “We believe, without being arrogant, that Formula 1 will be something that American fans will love to be involved with even more. We believe this is a very important market to develop the love of our sport.

Speculation surrounding a third Las Vegas race that used the world-famous Strip swirled for more than a year and was finally confirmed Wednesday night in a lavish announcement made at the rooftop pool at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the city expected 170,000 race weekend visitors to account for 400,000 hotel nights and an estimated economic impact of half a billion dollars.

“What happens in Las Vegas only happens in Las Vegas,” Sisolak said, adding that Las Vegas is “the entertainment and sports capital of the world.” No one throws a party like Las Vegas and I predict it will be the iconic race, the flagship race of F1 within a few years.”

F1 and Liberty are also partnering with Live Nation Entertainment and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for the race. The “founding partners” announced Wednesday night were Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Las Vegas.

MSG Sphere, Resorts World Las Vegas and The Venetian Resort have been announced as main sponsors.

No date has been given for the November race, but the Saturday night after Thanksgiving has been mooted. The track layout revealed on Wednesday evening featured three main straights, 14 corners including a sequence of high-speed corners and a single chicane section.

COTA drew more than 300,000 spectators during its three-day weekend last October and track chairman Bobby Epstein said adding Las Vegas to the F1 schedule should not dilute its event .

“There is enough to perpetuate this sport. What I love about what F1 does and what I think the fans will realize is that each event is very different from the next and will be very unique,” ​​Epstein told The Associated Press.

“Other American races are going to be more about the city and the destination, and ours is going to be more about the event itself. I’m excited to be going to Vegas, not just for F1, but because the city offers so much more entertainment, off and away from the track If I’m already a regular visitor to Vegas it will be more a question of whether I choose to go to F1 this year and not March Madness or a heavyweight fight?

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AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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More AP Motor Racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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