F1 dismisses worries of U.S. oversaturation while adding third stop in Las Vegas for 2023

F1 three races America
Formula One
10 Comments

LAS VEGAS — As F1 announces three races in America for next year, it’s instructive to review the last time Formula One ventured into Sin City for back-to-back Las Vegas races staged in the parking lot of the Caesars Palace hotel 40 years ago.

The European-headquartered series raced in Las Vegas in 1981 and 1982, then packed up with little incentive to return — until the past five years. Then came new ownership, slick marketing, a Netflix docuseries and a historic championship battle that all helped F1 explode in popularity throughout the United States.

The United States will be the only country on the 2023 calendar to play host to three F1 races in one season following Wednesday’s announcement of a Saturday night race down the famed Las Vegas Strip. F1 has raced at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, since 2012, and in May it will make its debut in Miami.

Barring any surprises, existing races in Mexico City and Montreal will bring F1 to North America five times next season.

Is it too much for one market?

Bobby Epstein, president of COTA, believes there’s enough interest to sustain three U.S. races. He could barely draw 100,000 spectators over a three-day weekend five years ago; COTA had more than 300,000 last year and is already sold out for its October race.

F1’s first race in Miami this May sold out in one day.

“Before we opened, there was very little interest or awareness in America about Formula One because they had no presence here,” Epstein told The Associated Press. “The first few years, it’s hard to know if you have a bright new shiny object or you have something that people really love and come back for and aren’t just curious about.

“What you can’t buy is history and you can’t buy tradition. You have to make it and earn it. The crowds here have told us we’re absolutely doing something right.”

NASCAR is the top U.S. series and already races 13 miles away from The Strip at the oval at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. NASCAR last week made its second appearance at COTA.

IndyCar is the American version of F1 and the most diverse series in the world with its mix of road and street courses, as well as ovals. But the open-wheel series never has challenged F1, even as European drivers are now migrating to IndyCar.

F1 didn’t much focus on the U.S. until Liberty Media Corp. bought the rights to the series in 2017. The American company has since targeted U.S. expansion and received a massive boost from the Netflix docuseries “Drive To Survive.”

Season four dropped ahead of the F1 season opener this month and Netflix said the behind-the-velvet rope peek inside the series ranked No. 1 in 33 countries its opening weekend. ESPN, meanwhile, said viewership for Sunday’s race in Saudi Arabia broke the week-old record for the network and was ESPN’s largest F1 audience since 1995.

“The momentum of Formula One has been demonstrated over the last several seasons and we’ve seen that potential turn into a reality as we watch our fanbase really grow around the world, but especially here in the U.S.,” Greg Maffei, President and CEO of Liberty Media, told The Associated Press.

F1 will promote the event alongside Liberty, which is taking on the additional role because of its belief in the market. F1 signed an initial three-year contract for the race, but the exact race date was not revealed beyond that it will be a Saturday night in November on a temporary 3.8-mile street course that will utilize the iconic Las Vegas Boulevard.

“This is somewhat different for us in that we’re taking a larger role because of our belief in the opportunity and our belief in Las Vegas,” Maffei said.

Added Stefano Domenicali, the CEO of F1: “The best racing on the planet will be in the entertainment capital of the world. Formula One has huge momentum and we are growing around the world and the United States is a massive focus for us, there is no doubt about it.”

No other country hosts more than two races a season. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said the city expected 170,000 visitors on race weekend to account for 400,000 nights of hotel rooms and an estimated economic impact of half a billion dollars.

But as F1 chases the U.S. dollar, it does so with very little American representation.

Michael Andretti, son of 1978 F1 champion Mario Andretti, is desperate to land a two-car team and a $420 million takeover of the existing Sauber team collapsed late last year. Andretti since has applied for expansion to the 10-team grid.

He’d like to bring to F1 driver Colton Herta, the Californian who turned 22 on Wednesday and is an IndyCar title contender. Herta has signed a testing contract with McLaren and will be evaluated by that team later this year.

Maffei was quick to point out that F1 already does have an American team; Haas F1 is owned by American businessman Gene Haas, who operates part of the organization alongside its NASCAR operation in North Carolina.

But Haas was the worst team in F1 last year and Andretti has publicly called on Haas to sell the F1 team to him. Haas has refused to sell and through the first two races appears to be a much improved team.

Gene Haas was forced to drop both his Russian driver and the sponsorship Nikita Mazepin brought from his father’s fertilizer company following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two weeks before the season opened. The team has somehow emerged stronger and scored points in the first two races of the season.

F1 and Liberty agree the series needs more American representation – teams, drivers, sponsors, all of it – but Domenicali said it cannot be an artificial effort. F1 won’t admit a team owner just to further its growth in the U.S.

“It’s important, but it has to be real,” Domenicali told AP. “People are making a difference, they are the protaganist. But it has to be real, (the driver) has to be quick, because otherwise it would not work. It is a journey that is not easy to accomplish. It will take time, but for sure, is in our focus.

“From the commercial point of view, from the organizer, or promoter point of view who wants to develop the business in the U.S., an American woman or man driver would be very good.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston

0 Comments

Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart


The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s