Racing fans get taste of glitz and glam as Formula One takes over Las Vegas

"It's a place where dreams are made."

ByMarc Cota-Robles KGO logo
Saturday, November 18, 2023

LAS VEGAS -- It's the arguably the most anticipated event to happen in Las Vegas in years.

Formula 1 will be racing on the Las Vegas Strip, and some fans have spent thousands just to be there. Practice sessions were underway Thursday ahead of the big race Saturday night.

"It's just so exciting," said Krystle Goodwin, who traveled to Vegas from the United Kingdom. "It's not even race day and it's really exciting. The atmosphere is good ... it's a lot of fun."

In the U.S., the sport's American fan base is surging like never before.

Longtime Formula 1 commentator Will Buxton is among those featured in Netflix's "Drive to Survive," the popular docuseries that successfully altered the demographics traditionally associated with the world's most luxurious motorsport (older, wealthy, male) and opened it up to a younger generation - particularly Americans.

F1 is also known to bring out some of the world's biggest celebrities and stars. Eyewitness News caught up celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay on Thursday.

"This is a sport at its absolute finest," he said. "These cars are just breathtaking, and these drivers are athletes at the top of their game, add 220 mile per hour ... extraordinary, not to be missed."

The last time F1 raced in Vegas was more than 40 years ago when the track was smaller and didn't involve shutting down the Strip.

This year, the track is nearly 4 miles long, with drivers flashing by the new multi-billion dollar Sphere.

"It's a place where dreams are made, some are lost," said Buxton. "It's the ultimate gambling mecca of taking a chance, high risk, and that's what racing drivers do better than anybody."

F1 is determined for the race down the Strip to be a success and has invested heavily into what it hopes is a long-term destination for the global series on its annual calendar.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.