Reuters3 minute read
Formula One’s growing popularity in the US will be further accelerated by next month’s Las Vegas Grand Prix and a Formula One film starring Brad Pitt, McLaren boss Zak Brown told Reuters.
US interest in the sport has surged in recent years thanks to the hit Netflix show Drive to Survive, and the frenzy will ramp up as the sport’s top drivers race down the famed Las Vegas Strip on the night of November 18th.
“It’s amazing that Formula 1 has finally caught on in North America,” Brown told Reuters.
“It happened much faster and more significantly than I ever imagined, which is great news.”
Awareness of the sport in the US plummeted after the US Grand Prix dropped from the Formula One calendar in 2008, but surged when it found its home in Austin in 2012.
Brown said Formula One had attracted a wider fan base since it was bought by Liberty Media in 2016 and hoped the excitement of a third race in the US would lead to increased ratings for ESPN, which will broadcast its races until 2025.
“Now you have three great places—Miami, Las Vegas and Austin—and you have a new television deal that they spent a lot more on, so they’re going to put a lot more money into the product,” said Brown, a Los Angeles native. Angeles.
“All the races are sold out, the corporate hospitality is off the charts. Awareness of Formula 1 is fantastic, but its TV ratings in North America are still very low compared to other major sports,” Brown said.
“There is a lot of room for viewership growth in America.”
Formula One’s return to Las Vegas after a multi-year absence is expected to be one of the biggest sporting spectacles of the year, with more than 105,000 fans attending each day, starting with open practice on November 16.
Organizers estimate the event will generate approximately $1.2 billion for the local economy.
“Las Vegas is the hottest sports ticket not only in North America, but throughout the world,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, the as-yet-untitled film starring Oscar winner Pitt in director Joseph Kosinski’s Top Gun: Maverick is filming at the racetracks.
“I think we all watched Top Gun and dreamed of being fighter pilots and Tom Cruise when we grew up, or at least that’s the impact the movie had on me.
“And I think that’s the impact the film will have on men and women, boys and girls around the world. They will go, this sport is cool. So I think it will attract new fans and I think people will be fascinated.
“The Brad Pitt movie, the new TV deal brought it all together, and I think it’s still just getting started in America.”