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Miami dresses up to receive F1 for the first time

Miami dresses up to receive F1 for the first time

Popular rapper Post Malone asked to play on Saturday so he could attend the sporting event of the year.

One of the world’s biggest sporting events visits Florida this weekend for the inaugural Miami Grand Prix.

In the last two decades there have been mostly NASCAR races around these parts. The popularity of the IndyCar series goes up and down. F1 is somewhat distant. To watch it on TV, you have to get up early. But it is far more dazzling than anything the American motorsports fan has ever seen.

F1 tests are run in Australia and Azerbaijan, in Monza and Monaco, in Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Its drivers face moral dilemmas when it comes to racing in countries with questionable human rights situations or deplorable restrictions. A rocket ripped through a nearby oil refinery in March during a test in Saudi Arabia, and cars continued to race as flames and smoke could be seen miles away. The pilots considered the possibility of not participating in the test, although in the end they did.

While the F1 circus is a very different sight than what Americans are used to, Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” docuseries about the world of the circuit captured a new audience. Tom Garfinkel, vice president of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, is one of the owners of the Miami race. He has been looking for a second F1 stop in the United States (the first is Texas) since 2017, before the Netflix series gained popularity.

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The event lasts three days (five if you count the parties the previous two days) and is the most hyped to take place at the Hard Rock in quite some time. The cheapest ticket is $300, for Friday rehearsals. The suites didn’t even go on sale because Garfinkel already had some 5,000 applicants who had put down $5,000 each in advance.

There were four years without F1 racing in the United States when the Indianapolis Grand Prix was stopped at the famous Motor Speedway in 2007. The category returned in 2012 to Austin (Texas) and the popularity of “Drive to Survive”, Premiering in 2019, it helped spawn a three-day festival that last year drew more than 300,000 people.

Garfinkel’s group will admit a maximum of 85,000 spectators to the Miami International Speedway so that people can enjoy a little of the exciting life that the Netflix series captures.

Original plans called for a track in downtown Miami, but it was relocated 15 miles (23 kilometers) north to incorporate Hard Rock Stadium.

South Beach will be open all night and the racetrack and its surroundings will be a must during a weekend in which there are also Miami Heat (NBA) and Florida Panthers (ice hockey) games in the area.

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The “campus,” as the area set aside for the race is called, encompasses a man-made beach and marina, and if Post Malone arrives at the Yacht Club, for example, anyone with a pass can follow him to the first floor. In the third there is a VIP sector and Garfinkel created a children’s play area with lots of elements alluding to the fascinating world of F1.

“The presence of celebrities is something never seen,” Garfinkel said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is the Grammys, the Oscars, the ESPYs and Allen & Co. (the rich conference) all together.”

“There are CEOs, figures from the world of entertainment, famous athletes, directors of investment funds, construction companies and personalities from the business community in general,” he added. “Miami is a cultural benchmark in many areas: art, food, tourism. We want people to enjoy all of this and see a taste of the world’s biggest motorsport championship.”

More than half of the IndyCar series drivers will be present in Miami this weekend, including Mexican Pato O’Ward, winner of Sunday’s indy race and an “ambassador” for McLaren.

Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, who lives in Miami, is an “ambassador” for the race. Brazilian Helio Castroneves, winner of four editions of the Indianapolis 500, lives in neighboring Fort Lauderdale and Alexander Rossi, who won the Indianapolis 500 the year he switched from F1 to IndyCar, will attend the race as mere amateurs, just like other indy racers.

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F1 will make a third stop in the United States from 2023, in Las Vegas.

“I am excited about the return of F1 to the United States. It’s been a long time, but now we have three races on the schedule, in different states. It’s a big country and there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be three tests,” Rossi said. “There will be a lot of people participating in this for the first time and getting to see an amazing show.”

The race has aroused enormous interest and there is intense ticket scalping. A seat next to the start/finish line is listed at almost $14,000.

In Miami “we have a lot of services and luxury suites for the rich and people spend a lot of money for preferential tickets,” Garfinkel said. “We want to make sure we deliver a fantastic experience. Open the map. Do you want to go to North Campus and have a pizza from Harry’s? Do you prefer to go by gondola to the track? Do you want to go see the yachts or the DJs? People will be able to experience the track from different perspectives.” (AP)

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