The Caesars Palace Grand Prix Circuit is the best of all time and here's why
The Ugly Duckling of Grand Prix circuits gets a lot of stick. Here's why it's actually the best.
The Caesars Palace Grand Prix is one of F1's most curious oddities. Run twice as the finales of the 1981 and 1982 seasons, it has often been criticised for being emblematic of all that is wrong with Formula 1. However, it should actually be looked at as the model for which the sport should adopt for future Grands Prix.
"But it was in a car park!"
Well, in this age, that's actually an asset. With Liberty Media pushing for more races in city centres and with cities - and residents - unwilling to shut down streets for a whole weekend, the use of a car-park is an inspired decision: you don't have to shut roads down, and the circuit layout is not constrained by the limitations of city streets and as such can be designed for good racing (as sector 3 in Hanoi has now been). Furthermore, the racing is brought far closer to the fans - even more so than a standard street circuit - as car parks are, in general, closer to city centres and easy to get to. Plus, the open space means lots of room for grand stands to be built, leading to more spectators and thus more revenue for both the circuit, it's promoters, and F1 - even more so if they get one of those fancy new revenue sharing contracts we've heard so much about! Formula E's proven Tempelhof Airport to be an excellent venue - and what's an airport if not a car-park for planes?! The circuit's just off the strip too - and who doesn't want David Croft shouting facts about Las Vegas at you while the camera pans across the strip?
"But no one could see the racing over the concrete walls!"
Just build the grandstands taller then, idiots. We've got those big TVs at circuits now too, and the FanVision things - they'll be fine. Also, we've got modern camera techniques (like wire cams! And curb cams!) and people who actually know how to operate cameras and follow cars now, so the world feed will actually be watchable this time.
"But it the racing was boring!"
Alright mate, have you actually watched the races? We had Prost and Alboreto duelling for the lead in 1982, resulting in Alboreto taking his first win! That year also had Lauda and de Cesaris side-by-side for four corners in an amazing display of racing for 7th! Furthermore, the layout of the circuit, with its switchback hairpins, a 90° left-hander, (à la Turn One at Baku - and that's given us some action!) and more fast kinks than a dominatrix during Ramadan, would make for good racing even in today's dirty air bonanza - certainly better than Hungary!
"But it wasn't a challenge!"
Tell that to Nelson Piquet! The Brazilian had to be lifted from his car - unable to walk - after vomiting from exhaustion. The Nevada desert heat would be a challenge even for today's über-fit athlete drivers and the circuit's anti-clockwise layout would present a rare challenge to the driver's necks, as it would be one of only six anti-clockwise tracks on the calendar. The temperatures would be a challenge for the cars too! Having seen them struggle with the extraordinary 40°C temperatures in Austria, similar temperatures would be expected in a regular year in Vegas. Thus, it would be more likely that we'd get power unit failures, increasing the chance of a surprise midfield podium! (Or, at least, Mercedes might be a bit slower). Additionally, the characteristics of the circuit, combined with the dry desert heat, would increase wear on everyday components. The hairpins and left-hander will take their toll on the brakes and tyres, and the fast kinks on the suspension, meaning more mechanical failures. "My, that's a mighty big Not Classified list you have there, Caesars Palace Grand Prix Circuit." "All the better to Surprise Midfield Podium you with!"
"But the drivers hated it!"
Well, that's not quite true, is it? Mario Andretti (yeah, that one) said "It's fantastic. It's one of the best ovals I've ever driven on!" in regards to the beautiful CART layout. Mario Andretti won 52 American Open Wheel races, an Indy 500, 4 US championships, a Formula One world championship, and raced on over 20 ovals. He knows his onions - particularly when those onions are going very fast around an oval. All these achievements mean that you should probably take his word for it on this one - particularly as he raced the circuit under both its F1 and CART guises. Derek Daly did too, but past quotes of his have got him into trouble, so we'd best not delve into them (also, what's he ever done?!) - and Teo Fabi never qualified in F1.
"But the surroundings are ugly!"
We're in the future now, we have digital advertising! Fling a few Heineken stars around the place, stick a few of those wordy boards they had around at Singapore, cover the ground in digital ads and the concrete barriers in advertising hoardings, and we're sorted. All tarted up nice an' pretty. Alternatively, you could include a Formula E style Fan Zone next to the circuit to make it look lively, and hey - with Liberty looking to impress their home audience - maybe there could be Vegas themed decoration around the circuit (I know, I know, how radical!) Perhaps they could run a competition for local artists to create decor for the circuit to get the locals involved too! Or, y'know, fewer wide shots...
"But nobody attended the races!"
That was the 80s, the US didn't care about F1 then. They do now - the attendance at COTA proves it. Have it host a few Indycar or Formula E races there beforehand to drum up interest if needs be, people will attend. Have it on a Bank Holiday weekend if it'll improve attendance. Plus the fact it's in the centre of Vegas means that locals will easily be able to reach the circuit and, unlike in the eighties, fans from across the US and the globe will be able to attend too. We've got the Verstappen effect now too, so that's the grandstands 50% full by itself.
"But what did you actually want this article to achieve?!"
In this time of backlash against new circuits and longing for the history of the sport to be retained, there is one track that can satisfy the direction F1 sees itself going while also satisfying the fans. Its time to return to Caesars Palace. All I'm asking is for the demolition of The Forum and The Mirage in order for the Caesars Palace Grand Prix Circuit to be rebuilt. That really isn't too much to ask, especially considering the things F1 have asked existing circuits to do in the past (eh, Donnington?) I hope this has persuaded you, Mr Carey, to pursue Caesars Palace as the next US Grand Prix venue, for the reasons listed above, instead of going after that Miami pipe dream. If, for some reason, this article has found itself in the hands of someone who is not Chase Carey, please join me with the hashtag #PleaseUsPalace.