Formula One sure hopes the latest bump in the road doesn’t become a trend for its big weekend in the desert.
The first practice of the Las Vegas Grand Prix was canceled Thursday night after driver Carlos Sainz Jr.’s car ran over a water hole cover.
The scary incident badly damaged the Ferrari just nine minutes into the session, and F1 halted all action on the course to inspect the track.
Repair crews spent two and a half hours working on the course. Practice was called off and fans were removed at 4 a.m. Las Vegas time, the deadline for when roads must be turned back over to local traffic.
Following an FIA inspection, it was found a concrete frame around a manhole cover had failed during FP1.— Formula 1 (@F1) November 17, 2023
The FIA are commencing checks on all other covers across the circuit. Any changes to scheduling will be advised in due course.#F1
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez said he was sorry to the fans that practice couldn’t resume, but he believes F1 “will be able to put on a great race” Saturday night.
Sportsbook operators are looking to connect with the auto-racing audience in the way they would if a huge boxing or MMA match was in town or when the Las Vegas Raiders host a big-name opponent.
During this month's third-quarter earnings call, Wynn CEO Craig Billings said the hotel and casino company was banking on a big weekend.
"We have more front money and credit lined up for this event than any event in the history of Wynn Las Vegas, and we’ve had some doozies before," Billings said. "So, this is shaping up to be a great event for us.”
Short of expectations?
The Las Vegas Grand Prix’s 3.8-mile track that winds through the Strip’s casinos and sights cost $500 million to build. Hotels and casinos are banking on a huge weekend, so not being able to get through 10 minutes of practice is a bad sign.
So are the ticket prices. Multiple media reports have tickets to the race dropping by 50% or more. Rooms aren’t selling at the rate casino executives were expecting.
Gaming and sports betting revenue could be much lower than they hoped for when the city committed to construction and traffic issues in hopes of drawing huge crowds to a city that already hosts 39 million visitors each year.
A cold forecast and a lack of buzz in terms of F1 standings could be factors for lower attendance.