Formula One Festival

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By: Harvey Fialkov | Oct. 18, 2018

Miami Formula One Street Festival – More Than Just Fast Cars

Start your engines and steer your way to Bayfront Park on October 20-21 to a fun-filled street festival that will serve as a driving force to bring a Formula One Racing Championship event to Downtown Miami every year. The two-day festival will give spectators a ringside seat where they can experience the thunderous roar of engines from iconic F1 racing cars in a live car run down palm tree-lined Biscayne Boulevard on Saturday afternoon.

They can watch racing great Emerson Fittipaldi, a two-time F1 champion, and longtime Miami resident, drive his 1974 championship-winning McLaren M23 along a similar route that the Brazilian legend traversed during the Miami Grand Prix when he came out of retirement in 1984. Joining Fittipaldi will be racing motorsport giants from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.

Spectators will be so close to the action that the smell of burning rubber will intermingle with the nearby food stands filled with mojo-marinated pork, empanadas and arroz con pollo.

Later that evening, fans can take out their earplugs and get down to a free concert featuring hip-hop/fusion artists Silk City, Diplo and two-time, multi-platinum Grammy-winning producer Mark Ronson at Bayfront Park. Giant screens will be strategically placed throughout the park so that racing fans won’t miss a lap of qualifying or the main event from that weekend’s adrenaline-pumping Formula 1 Pirelli 2018 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

For now, that is the lone F1 event held in the U.S., but Sean Bratches, Formula 1’s Managing Director, is accelerating plans with Liberty Media to make Miami a second site, hopefully by 2020. “America is increasingly becoming a hub of passion around Formula 1 and I’m particularly excited about the opportunity to host an F1 Festival in Miami,’’ Bratches was recently quoted. “The success of the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin demonstrates the appetite for Formula 1 in this country and we are determined to bring the sport to even more American fans in the coming seasons.’’

The projected 2.75-mile track would zip around AmericanAirlines Arena, across Port Boulevard Bridge and over Biscayne Bay. Street racing has been a Miami stop-and-go fixture since 1926 when the Grand Prix was a regular attraction. Along came the Trans-Am series, the Rolex Sports Car, Indy Car and American Le Mans.

The late Ralph Sanchez brought the Miami Grand Prix back to the streets of Biscayne Boulevard and eventually nearby Bicentennial Park from 1983 to 1995 where more than 70,000 fans watched cars roar by high-rise skyscrapers on one side and picturesque Biscayne Bay on the other for three hours over a twisting 1.85 mile course.

“That first Miami track was pretty amazing,’’ five-time Le Mans winner and 1984 Grand Prix champion Derek Bell was quoted years ago. “It had a mix of everything, fast corners as well as slow stuff, a place you couldn’t afford to hit the walls, but if you wanted to be quick you had to graze them occasionally. It turned the city into the Monaco of the U.S. at a time when it had a pretty poor reputation.’’

Street racing disappeared from Downtown Miami after Sanchez helped build the Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it did wind its way back to a remodeled Bayfront Park course for the 2002 and 2003 American Le Mans/Cart series. The Formula E Miami ePrix got the green light for a one-year appearance at the Biscayne Bay Street Circuit in 2015, but stalled again.

In addition to listening to the ground-shaking beat of F1 racing all day and Silk City’s hit singles at night, including “Loud’’ by rappers Goldlink and Desiigner or “Electricity’’ with Dua Lipa, festival patrons will be treated to jaw-dropping art pieces and murals by local artists such as Jessy Nite, Brian Butler and sign artist Sege Toussaint.

The eclectically charged festival in Miami is the first held in the U.S. and will help gauge local interest and further fuel plans to revive the ear-splitting sounds, sights and pulsating energy of Formula 1 street racing. “Following the immense success of our events in London, Shanghai, Marseille and Milan, I am certain that Miami will follow suit,’’ Bratches has said. “Miami is a diverse and vibrant city that shares many of the brand attributes of Formula 1, making it the perfect host for Formula 1’s final festival of 2018.”

Race organizers and Miami commissioners hope to ink a ten-year contract to bring back Formula 1, the pinnacle of world motorsport. If all goes well, local racing fans will be able to cheer on F1 superstars Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer) from 2020 to at least 2030.

“F1 is a worldwide sport with approximately 1.8 billion TV viewers annually,’’ Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was quoted.

So, fasten your seat belts and prepare for a collision course of music, art, food and heart-pounding racing at the F1 Festival on Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21.

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