Music, Cars, Madness: Miami’s Grand Prix Is So Much More Than A Race

A quest to redefine the Formula 1 experience....

A giant temporary structure, erected on the sands of Miami beach, grows thick with VIPs, as Ferrari prepares to use the city’s aura of glamour and wealth to launch a $423,000 12Cilindri combustion-engine sports car, kicking off the grand prix weekend. Just along the shore, the iconic Eden Roc hotel is unveiling a $12,000 ‘Racetrack to Recovery’ package, for guests to supplement their track days with in-suite Oculus Quest racing games, ‘pit-stops’ at the famous Lapidus-designed lobby bar and a recharge booking at Esencia

At the Hard Rock Stadium, Bonhams Cars are taking over the race track for an evening, to auction a series of special edition helmets (worn by Schumacher, Mansell and Prost) and a one-of-eleven 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport, which is billed to go for $2 million. Alo Yoga are offering stints in their resident cryotherapy chamber, Kaskade is pumping out a beat from decks perched precariously over the starting grid lights and Liquid I.V. has turned Formula 1’s DRS into a ‘Dehydration Reduction System’, pitching unique ways to beat the South Florida heat. 

The race itself is breaking records, as 3.1 million TV viewers tune into ABC’s Miami Grand Prix coverage to watch Lando Norris taking the trophy for the very first time, amassing the largest live audience for an F1 race in United States television history, but for those at the track, McLaren’s win is only a fraction of the experience.

Ferrari 12 Cilindri

The Cars

As soon as you walk through the Paddock Club entry gates at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix, you’re nose-to-nose with a plinth carrying the new Aston Martin V12 Vantage Coupe, incarnated for the occasion in a pale Miami blue. If that doesn’t set the tone for splendour, I’m not sure what else will. If Aston hasn’t piqued your interest though, petrolheads can find plenty of other kicks while wandering around the trackside. Beach launch done, Ferrari’s 12Cilindri two-seater Berlinetta (also revealed as a $435,000 open-top Spider) is on display outside the hospitality suite Casa Ferrari.

This year, hot laps are actually scorching, as constructors wheel out rare supercars to thrill VIPs on the circuit. Kendall Jenner, for one, is being treated to a ride in a gold chrome Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R, driven by Lewis Hamilton himself. 

Hard Rock / AJ Shorter Photography

The Music

Trackside DJs are a common fixture at race weekends, with every effort put forth to gee up the crowds, impatient for the action to get going. Calvin Harris has headlined at Silverstone, for example, and Diplo joined him for Las Vegas’ inaugural race, but in Miami, with Hard Rock as the premier sponsor, the pressure to create a musical line-up of stadium-worthy acts is among the highest in the Formula 1 calendar. The challenge, though, is that the spectatorship of more than 275,000 people is among the most diverse of any in the calendar. A destination race, with GP partner Heliflite helicoptering in guests from all over the place, the tastes are eclectic, to say the least. 

“It’s truly become the place to see and be seen at all the off-track events,” says Keith Sheldon, ‘President of Entertainment & Brand Management at Hard Rock International. “Our intention is to create an entertainment line-up that reflects the vibrant energy and intersection of South Beach and Formula 1, including  Latin, pop and dance music energy.” This is exactly what you can see reflected in the range of genres, with performances oscillating between chart-toppers from pop prince Ed Sheeran, Don Omar’s thumping reggaeton, and party rousing fare from Kaskade, Kaytranada, Cedric Gervais and Steve Aoki. All-embracing, to be sure, but judging from the scenes at Hard Rock’s trackside ‘Beach Club’, a pleasure-filled time. 

Beach Club, Hard Rock / AJ Shorter Photography

The City

The thing that makes the Miami race different from a lot of Formula 1 races, is that it takes place in the city. Yes, this is of course true of the schedule’s various street circuits, such as Monaco, Baku and Singapore, but it’s rare for a race to be nestled so closely to an area of such urban luxury. This provides an enormous opportunity for celebrations to snake away from the track, winding a path throughout various cultural hotspots. 

“We want this to become an event that, when people look at the calendar and they think about going to Wimbledon, or the Masters, they consider Miami’s Formula 1 race in that mix,” says Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Hard Rock Stadium, and Managing Partner of the Miami GP, “It’s on that level of experience. A bucket-list item.” As well as hotels like Eden Roc taking advantage of the occasion, the district of Wynwood is transformed into an F1 fan fest, with SWARM hosting ‘Miami Race Week’ activations, like fashion pop-ups, culinary concepts and specialist cocktails, down the length of NW 2nd Ave. And as for the after parties? Legendary restaurant- bar Carbone and nightclub E11even have tables laden with bottles, waiting for the drivers to pass the chequered flag. 

As the Miami Grand Prix continues to accelerate its spectacle beyond the track, it’s clear that the event is morphing into an exceptional commercial phenomenon. From supercar surprise reveals, to celebrity DJs dangling from the rafters, Miami’s intense focus on positioning itself as a must-visit on the global calendar is certainly inspiring returns, even if it’s just from bigger brand alignments. At the nucleus of this high-octane weekend – lest we forget – there’s also a car race to enjoy. 

Words: Natasha Bird

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