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4 Apr 2018

In his first guest appearance on the blog, Nick Alexander poses the question, is or should Miami be on the cards as Liberty look to expand the sports reach in the USA.

In November 2017, the Miami Herald reported on a meeting between key city officials and Formula 1.

Executives and engineers with the global racing brand were in town this month, meeting with Miami’s new mayor and the city’s head of film and culture to go over potential racing circuits and logistics.

At that time, the city reportedly hoped to bring a street circuit to downtown by 2020.

I’ll admit, I don’t regularly read the Miami Herald (simply as I am not a resident of the greater Miami area – I have no thoughts about the publication either way). I found the above article in doing my research for my own article. For the next few months, I did not find much news about a Miami race specifically. I say “specifically,” because Liberty Media have openly discussed the possibility of a second U.S. Grand Prix (or shall I say, a second Grand Prix in the United States – who knows which race would be called what) both before and after this November meeting, without naming one particular city. For example, a cursory search engine inquiry of your choice (and you know which one has its own verb) might lead you to an April 2017 Road & Track (which I receive in print and flip through) article about the possibility of a night street race in… New Jersey?

I didn’t think anything about a Miami Grand Prix (working title) at all until I came across a most intriguing article in Auto Motor und Sport (which I do actually read most) from 28 Feb 2018 titled, Hanoi, Miami, and Buenos Aires: Three new F1 races for 2019? *

According to information from Auto Motor und Sport, Hanoi and Miami are highly likely to already be a part of the calendar next year.”

You don’t need me to translate the rest of the article. Google will do a decent job at the rest for this article (good luck with the technical stuff though)!

There’s really not much in it. It’s actually, well, a tease.

If you haven't realised by now, I’m an American F1 fan living in North Carolina. Miami isn’t that far away. And while I haven’t been, I’d like to go. It might not be on the very top of my list of American cities to see (there are a lot), it’s relatively up there. With an F1 race, it would pretty much move up to the top spot instantly. The AMuS article really got me thinking…

I don’t intend to make this a travel article, but Miami has plenty to offer:
  • Latin food, dancing and culture, Little Havana
  • Restaurants and nightlife
    • Have you had authentic Cuban food?
  • Parks and beaches like Everglades National Park and South Beach
    • An airboat everglades tour seems like the full experience
  • All four major U.S. pro sports (hockey, basketball, baseball, and football with the Florida Panthers and the Miami Heat, Marlins, and Dolphins, respectively).
Miami is easy to get to for many people, with nonstop flights to:
  • 50 U.S. airports,
  • the two most populous Canadian cities (Toronto and Montreal),
  • the eight most populous Latin American cities (Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Lima, Bogota, Rio de Janiero, Santiago, Caracas, and Buenos Aires) and,
  • a respectable 10 of the top 19 most populous European cities (Istanbul, Moscow, London, Madrid, Rome, Paris, Vienna, Barcelona, Munich, and Milan)
(Flight info from airport website. Population info from Wikipedia).

Not ready to fly straight back? If you want a detour before you go home, pop over to the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, or Puerto Rico.

But in talking about all these huge cities you could fly from, let’s not forget how big Miami is, ranking in at the eighth most populous U.S. metropolitan area. Would you have guessed that? There’s some lower-ranking cities I’m thinking would have come to your mind first, like Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Seattle. Austin? Way down in 33rd.

I don’t know why I’m arguing for a race in Miami. People seem already (from my nonscientific discussions with other enthusiasts) to be on board with that. A new street circuit (or any new circuit) is tantalizing for some. Miami has its unique cultural appeal. It’s not extremely difficult to get to. There’s plenty to do and plenty nearby to venture off to as well.

But what about two races in the United States? Can the U.S. even have two races?
Let me get this out of the way. A country can have two F1 races. It is not unprecedented. In fact, it happens in Europe more often than not. The European Grand Prix virtually means Grand Prix in a European country that has another Grand Prix**. Recently, Valencia hosted the European Grand Prix from 2008-2012 (with Barcelona holding the Spanish Grand Prix). The parallels between Valencia and Miami and Catalonia and Texas seem endless. Before that, from 1999-2007, the Nürburgring hosted the European Grand Prix (with the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring).
I therefore hereby declare the Miami Grand Prix shall be called the North American Grand Prix. I’m going to also say right now that if Canada got another turn, my vote is for Vancouver.

But should the U.S. have two races? Why race in Austin if we’re going to race in Miami? Can the fanbase support it?
These would be two completely different races. Miami will be a street circuit. Different layout, challenges, overtaking possibilities, etcetera.

“Texas is neither southern nor Western. Texas is Texas.” Senator William Blakely.

Anyone who’s visited Texas likely learned it was its own country, or at least they can sense it. Suffice it to say, if you’ve been to either Texas or Florida, you cannot be said to have experienced the other.
I don’t know if you’ve looked at Miami on the map, even after reading this far, but it’s very much in the corner of the United States. And I don’t know if you’ve looked at the United States on the map, but it’s an enormous place. Flights from Seattle to Miami? 6+ hours. That said, Miami is very convenient for much of the east coast and internationally.

As I said above, I have not been to Miami. I did, however, attend the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas last year (amazing, by the way), so I have been to Austin. I can assure you, Miami and Austin are very much two different places. Trade the Cuban food for barbeque. Trade Little Havana for Willie Nelson Blvd. Trade the everglades for the hill country, South Beach for Lady Bird Lake. Forget pro sports. Austin is weird.

Honestly, I’m lucky enough to have direct flights to both Austin and Miami, so I could feasibly attend both F1 races. I’m sure there are other enthusiasts on the east coast who would be willing to take a direct flight for a 3-4 day weekend in Austin one month and another direct flight for another 3-4 day weekend in Miami another month.

They may have been meaning to go already. The perfect opportunity, or rationalization? I’ll let you decide.


*At this point it would be fair to mention to the reader that I will be translating from German to English myself wherever applicable.
**The 2016 European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan is an obvious exception, as there was only one Grand Prix in Azerbaijan in 2016. I suspect this was more of a marketing decision by the host country. The name has changed from 2017 onward to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
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