The previous year, the glamorous Miami Grand Prix became part of Austin’s Circuit of the Americas schedule, taking advantage of the sport’s growing popularity worldwide due to its success on Netflix.
Las Vegas is determined to surpass previous achievements this season by hosting a grand event centered around its famous Strip, with promotion from F1.
But while COTA chief Bobby Epstein admitted the hype around Miami and Vegas drowning out the US’s longest-standing race can be “frustrating”, he said the event is sticking to its guns as the “people’s race”.
The race’s 2023 edition on 22 October will be its 10th since F1 returned Stateside at the then-new COTA venue in 2012. It has been a mainstay of the calendar every year aside from the COVID-disrupted 2020 campaign.
When asked if his event needs to distinguish itself from Miami and Vegas, Epstein replied, “I believe we’re not really doing anything different. The great thing is that each event that has taken place has tried to create its own distinct identity.”
“We do not need to alter our recipe; it is truly effective. One discovery we have made is that it is the people who have shaped our identity, rather than ourselves.”
“The spectators have observed this and expressed that, in numerous aspects, this is the race that will be referred to as the race of the people. We have encountered this term frequently. It is pleasing to witness such recognition, and we will strive to meet those expectations.”
Epstein is of the opinion that the market has expanded sufficiently to accommodate three races in the United States, as they can collaborate and enhance visibility for one another.
“We witnessed this phenomenon last year when a huge number of people attended,” he clarified. “This was due to a combination of increased visibility in the US through the Miami race, exposure on Netflix, and our previous efforts.”
At the beginning of the race, the competitors include Max Verstappen from Red Bull Racing with RB18, Carlos Sainz representing Ferrari with F1-75, Lewis Hamilton driving for Mercedes with W13, George Russell also in a Mercedes W13, Lance Stroll from Aston Martin with AMR22, and Lando Norris from McLaren with MCL36. The remaining participants complete the field.
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“I believe that the inclusion of other races can serve as a form of advertisement and greatly enhance our efforts. It is wonderful to witness the race taking place in Miami during the spring month of May, as it enables us to capture the interest of American viewers.”
Austin prides itself on providing family-friendly entertainment, having raised eyebrows when it took a pioneering approach in pairing on-track action with off-track concerts.
In the year 2016, COTA managed to bring in Taylor Swift, whereas this year the October event will feature Queen and The Killers.
At first, the strategy faced backlash from traditional race enthusiasts. However, it has now become a model for other races to emulate, thanks to Liberty Media’s efforts in encouraging promoters to offer greater entertainment value to a broader audience.
“When we initially began incorporating music, we generated considerable commotion in terms of the purists’ disapproval, who claimed: ‘What are you up to? You’re spoiling the sport.’ However, in reality, we were simply enhancing the customer’s experience by providing added value.”
In retrospect, I believe people will perceive our actions as genuinely prioritizing the fans and families who wish to attend the event, while also aiming to make it more appealing to a wider range of audience.
COTA has previously stated its goal of becoming the first F1 grand prix to attract over 500,000 spectators during a race weekend. Epstein is confident that the venue will be able to accommodate this by next year.
Due to the US GP’s focus on providing entertainment, the organizer believes that Red Bull’s current dominance and declining TV ratings will not hinder the growth of their event.
He mentioned that it is important to consider the date when tickets were made available for the event. If the event takes place in June or July and all tickets are sold out by January, it can be concluded that attendees are not solely interested in the competition.
I believe there are various reasons why individuals choose to personally attend Formula 1 races.
To get to that number, up from last year’s record of 440,000 attendees, COTA has started selling tickets on a wide variety of platforms in recent years, including retailer Costco, where three-day general admission vouchers are sold from $350.
Epstein acknowledged that the attention surrounding Miami and Vegas, as well as the media focus on the expensive tickets and VIP packages worth millions of dollars, has posed difficulties in effectively conveying our message.
At the beginning, Sergio Perez is in the lead driving for Red Bull Racing RB19.
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Epstein mentioned that the media has extensively covered the high-priced tickets and astonishing costs, such as the $10,000 tickets or the million dollar packages in Vegas.
Our aim is to spread awareness about the worth of a ticket to the US Grand Prix at COTA, emphasizing that not all tickets are priced at $10,000. However, we have faced difficulties in effectively communicating this message.
It is highly advantageous for us that people are recognizing that it is located at Costco, and as a result, we have successfully sold numerous tickets through this channel.
We are making every effort to communicate to the customer that a ticket to the US Grand Prix is reasonably priced and offers exceptional worth.
“It is quite frustrating. I recently tuned in to a podcast where the discussion solely revolved around Miami and Vegas as the locations for races in the United States. Occasionally, I ponder whether not actively promoting oneself hinders the chances of being recognized.”
“We possess a rather devoted group of supporters, and I believe we simply need to remain patient. We do not become anxious when faced with something unfamiliar.”
“The fans have the final say. After 11 years, we see a consistent increase in attendance as more people return each year. This truly reflects the strong sense of tradition we have.”
“You cannot purchase tradition.”