How F1 got its fake marina with fake water for the yachts of the Miami Grand Prix

F1 Miami water yachts
Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida — F1 pictured a race in Miami and envisioned sun, sand, beaches, water and yachts.

So when the inaugural Miami Grand Prix landed at Hard Rock Stadium, far from the South Beach backdrop Formula One was seeking, the promoter said don’t worry.

F1 wants boats in a suburban neighborhood?

Done. They built a fake marina. With fake water, and all.

Well, it’s not really water at all in The Mia Marina, located between turns 4 and 6 at the purpose-built venue around the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. It can be found at the corner of NW 27th Ave. and NW 199th St. in Miami Gardens, a land-locked neighborhood some 15 miles away from F1’s initial desired downtown location.

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It isn’t exactly Monaco, but the man-made marina is a 25,000-square-foot dry dock designed to look like water. The 10 yachts are real – one appears to be booked by Michael Mak, the local founder of Celebrity Sports Entertainment; one waved the British flag; another is named “Wheels” – but the water is just plywood that’s been covered in a decal.

Tickets to the “Yacht Club” started at $9,500 up to $38,000 for a four-person pass.

It’s part of a five-star weekend experience created by Tom Garfinkel, vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium and managing partner of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix. He’s worked with owner Stephen Ross to turn Hard Rock Stadium into a global sports and entertainment venue worthy of the top events in the world.

Hard Rock has hosted Super Bowls, college playoff games, a major tennis tournament, international soccer, concerts and the “Rolling Loud” musical festival. From Jay-Z and Beyonce, to Serena Williams and Neymar, the biggest names have all been to Hard Rock.

And on Saturday, former First Lady Michelle Obama watched an F1 practice session from the back of seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton’s pit.

“Steve Ross had a vision and for us to truly host the world’s great big events, and for that to be true, Formula One has got to be on that list,” Garfinkel told The Associated Press. “I don’t know there’s another stadium in the world that can say they’ve had Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Patrick Mahomes and U2 and Jay-Z and Beyonce and Messi and Neymar all at the same venue.”

The event is the hottest ticket in sports right now. George Lucas was a guest Saturday, and so was Greg Norman, Michael Strahan and Jeff Gordon. The English entertainer James Corden has been in the paddock three consecutive days, and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was hanging outside McLaren hospitality awaiting friend Daniel Ricciardo.

“The demands from sponsors and fans has been off the charts, unlike anything I’ve seen in my time in Formula One,” said McLaren head Zak Brown, an American. “I really like where we are in North America as far as Formula One’s popularity.”

Garfinkel was pursuing a race in Miami long before F1 built a fast and frenzied American following behind the Netflix docuseries “Drive To Survive.” The race wasn’t officially added to the 2022 calendar until last season – it gives the United States two races for the first time since 1984 – but the first meetings were in early 2018.

F1 had been purchased by Liberty Media, an American company, and Garfinkel figured the U.S. might have a shot at expansion. Miami is the 11th different venue to host an F1 race in the United States, but the series had struggled to gain traction in the country until late. The U.S. went four years without an F1 event before Circuit of America’s in Austin, Texas, brought the European series back to the States in 2012.

It took years for COTA to grow, and behind the “DTS” mania last year’s race in Austin drew more than 300,000 over three days. The U.S. will have three races in 2023 when the Las Vegas Strip is added to the F1 calendar.

The buzz is “mega,” said Mercedes head Toto Wolff.

“The city is hyped – is that how you say it?” Wolff said. “Formula One is all around, the amount of guest requests we have is amazing. I think we’ve finally landed in North America.”

Attendance was capped at 85,000 a day in an attempt to create a high-end experience void of long concession waits and freedom to roam the massive grounds. A gondola can take guests from the marina to The Beach Club, where Post Malone went head-to-head with F1 qualifying.

But there have been hiccups, from congested pedestrian bridges, long walks from point to point under the hot Florida sun, and traffic snarls surrounding the stadium.

Some teams were upset Friday over the guest experience inside the Paddock Club, which cost $11,000 for a three-day pass. Brown cautioned to wait until the checkered flag before grading Miami’s first race.

“Putting on a good first-year event is a challenge to get everything right, given the size and scale and newness to it,” Brown said. “But if you look at Austin, 10 years on, they had record attendance last year. Silverstone has been around for 50-plus years and is already a sellout. So, I think putting on a great event, and then having it be sustainable over decades, I don’t say it’s easy to do, but clearly it can be done.

“Let’s just get it right, put on a good show for the fans, and I think there’s a tremendous amount of runway here.”

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports