The Grand Prix took place twice in Las Vega during the early 80s. The race aimed at reflecting on some of Vegas’ charms. John Watson, who drove for McLaren in previous Caesars Palace Grand Prix races says, “Part of the reason why Formula One visited Las Vegas was that Vegas is a big sports town, primarily boxing.”
He added, “The purpose of having F1 in Las Vegas was primarily to attract the big spenders to come to the Grand Prix and spend their money in the casinos.”
Caesars Palace Grand Prix
In 1982 the temporary street circuit was set up of over two miles of race track which were switched back on themselves like a coiled snake to fit between the concrete barriers and high wire catchment fences.
“It was laid out in what was fundamentally an oversized car park at the rear of the Caesars Palace hotel,” says Andretti who raced in both editions of the Grand Prix.
“You had this totally flat ground and three-foot-high concrete barriers so you had very little sense of reference points. A driver needs reference points around the racetrack, like a building or a tree, to help you find the rhythm of the circuit…It was probably the least appealing Grand Prix circuit I think I’ve raced on.” After this race, Vegas dropped off the F1 calendar and the Caesars Palace circuit was reconfigured as a modified oval track.
Vegas Street Race
“Overall Vegas wasn’t all that bad,” says Andretti. “But I didn’t think the track itself would have a long life because it was too short, as we call it Mickey Mouse because the type of real estate they had there was limited.” Andretti along with many others believe that Las Vegas deserves another shot at F1.”I always felt that Vegas could have been a good home for Formula One because of what it has to offer,” says Andretti.
“And if you’re going to have a street race [in America] then Vegas could have been one because of the wide boulevards. The international contingent that comes to all these races would look forward to that.”
The future of F1 returning to Vegas might still be unknown but news has been circulating that now with F1 being under the leadership of its chief executive officer Chase Carey, talk about a possible future return of the race are on the table!