Report: F1 considering return to Vegas in the near future


Formula 1 could be set to return to Las Vegas in the near future, with a grand prix being planned on The Strip as the sport’s growth in the United States continues.

According to a report by The Independent‘s Christian Sylt, Bernie Ecclestone has said that officials in Las Vegas are keen on bringing the race back to the resort, some 32 years after the last Caesars Palace Grand Prix was held there.

“Vegas say they are ready to go and it would be on The Strip for sure,” F1 supremo Ecclestone is quoted as saying. Sylt also writes that F1 track designer Hermann Tilke has already visited the site to draw up plans.

Formula 1’s flirtation with the American market has been a long-running one, with the troubled relationship appearing to be something of the past now thanks to the success of the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

Plans for a second race in the US in New Jersey appear to have stalled, with the Grand Prix of America not even making the 2015 draft calendar. Ecclestone has said in the past that a race at Long Beach could also be a viable option, but Las Vegas has now emerged as a surprise option and contender.

The sport last visited Nevada back in 1982 for the Caesars Palace Grand Prix, which was held on a temporary circuit in the car park of the famous casino. However, it was not a success, dropping off the calendar after just two years, with CART picking up the contract before also backing out at the end of 1984.

Formula 1’s nature and outlook has changed dramatically since its last spin of the roulette wheel in Vegas, though. Those were the early days of its expansionsm, with the race at Caesars Palace one of just six outside of Europe. Nowadays, the flyaways outnumber those in mainland Europe.

For Ecclestone, Vegas will be a very different prospect this time around. In the days where every single session is broadcast live on TV and the going ons in the paddock being tweeted by the second, it would look to be a big glamor event, much like Monaco, Singapore and Abu Dhabi are.

Of course, this does underestimate the enormous logistical challenge, which would be greater than we have ever seen in F1. A street race in the middle of Vegas is a very tall order indeed, surpassing that of Singapore.

However, it does once again show where the sport is heading: anywhere and everywhere that has the money and the location to host a grand prix. As the teams contemplate a 20-race calendar for 2015, don’t go thinking that Ecclestone has any plans of stopping at that figure.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”