The Miami Grand Prix has gotten a lot of attention, but from what I’ve gathered from social media, it’s a mixed bag. Some love the glamours South Beach backdrop, even if the event is a bit north in land locked Miami Gardens. There have been lots of celebrity sightings, and the race hasn’t even started yet. Others can’t get past the manufactured track, fake marina, and highway overpasses surrounding the venue. This was my very first F1 race and I paid my own way (with the exception of Friday, which was covered by the Autoverse!) with general admission “Campus Pass” tickets.
So, here are my first impressions after spending two days at the Miami Grand Prix. No F1 coverage, just my thoughts about the #MiamiGP experience.
As we entered the facility we were immediately greeted by the F1 Fanzone. Similar to some high profile NFL events I’ve been to, the Fanzone gives you a chance to visit a host of F1-themed sections. Want to try and change a tire, try the pitstop challenge. On Friday, with the action not really happening on the track, this area was absolutely packed. And swelteringly hot. However, the organizers gave fans a ton of spots to duck into the shade. Whether they be pop-up food court tents, art galleries, or shopping spots, you don’t have to stand in the sun. Just bring walking shoes, my Hoka’s got a workout.
And then there is the marina. The “Mia Marina” section on the West Campus has easily gotten the most attention of the event. The concept drawings showed a marina full of yachts inside the track area. The notion of how it would be completed was up in the air. Would they build the worlds largest fish tank, without the fish? It became clear as social media posts showed a platform with painted vinyl being applied. The water wasn’t real.
As I arrived, it was one of the first sections I visited. And it went a bit viral, with well over 600K impressions as of this writing.
I’ll tackle this one right now, I love the marina. It’s a lark, it’s fun, it’s a bit fake but so is Miami. F1 fans may want to manage their expectations about what we’ll see next year in Las Vegas, that Eiffel Tower in particular, may not be legitimate. The number of fans I saw stopping at the marina to take pictures and laugh was uncountable. Is that a word, seems to be?
There is a lot to see. From Luxury Row, which features some high end shops (with air conditioning) to “The Beach”, which has a real sand area to watch turns 12 and 13, those with the Campus Pass have plenty to do. There are a lot of private areas in clubs, which is on-brand for Miami. While it would be cool to have been able to go into some of those, I don’t feel like I missed out. I’m sure you still have to purchase food and drinks inside, and you are much further away from the track than a lot of the general admission people
Ok, no coverage, but here are a few pics from the first day of Practice. The best part of the Campus Pass is that you can watch from almost anywhere. I enjoyed watching practice, the W-Series, and the Porsche Challenge. Oh, and if you act like you know where you are going, you can even easily end up in the grandstands. However, the best view of the day was from Hard Rock Stadium. Go up to level 300 and head down the circular ramp and you’ll see the photo above (at the bottom). Spectacular.
Saturday meant that I knew exactly where I was going. Sort of. The F1 Miami app is OK, but the “wayfinding” section is a little hard to use. I also used the paper program that they handed out to find my way around. Some of the best views are from the bridges over the track, sometimes those are monitored to keep gawkers from stopping for video, sometimes they aren’t. Still, the more I wandered around the more I appreciated the stadium.
Hard Rock stadium, home of the Dolphins, is fully open to attendees. At least the 300 level is, which meant that a lot of the food, drink, and restrooms are open without the typical crowds. Plus, it’s almost 100% full shade and there is a cool breeze. As I sit in my hotel room, watching my marina tweet rack up more views and planning out my route for race day, I think I’m heading to the stadium for the race.
OK, OK, here are some more Saturday practice and qualifying pics. It’s great how close you can get. I’ve been within 12 feet or less from a 100+ mph fly-by, I’ve been *unofficially* in the grandstands, up in the stadium with panoramic views, and more.
For a first-time fan its been a great experience, and I haven’t even seen the race yet! Stay tuned for a more robust review of the #MiamiGP on The Autoverse.