Formula 1’s ill-fated first shot at Sin City glory


After four decades of absence, Formula 1 is set to make a grand comeback to the dazzling city of lights, Las Vegas.

Next week's modern extravaganza in Vegas promises to be an electrifying spectacle, blending the high-octane thrills of motorsport with the opulent and neon-lit ambiance of Sin City.

The much-anticipated - and much-hyped - event marks a momentous return for F1 to the gambling capital of the world, rekindling a legacy that began in 1981 and 1982 with races held within the grounds of the iconic Caesars Palace Hotel.

As absurd as the idea may seem in today's era of state-of-the-art racing facilities and street circuits, Las Vegas once saw the fastest cars in the world race around a boring parking lot.

The promoters of the event – supported at the time by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone - had drummed up the doomed concept as a way of tapping into a "new market".

The result was a 2.2-mile track cramped into a 75-acre lot next to the Ceasars Palace Hotel, void of high-speed sweepers, fast straightaways, or even the odd landmark, as there wasn't a tree, a bush or a blade of grass in sight.

Fourteen corners and cement walls were Las Vegas' only claim to character.

The race's first edition in 1981 was a title decider between three drivers: Williams' Carlos Reutemann, the clear favorite, Brabham's Nelson Piquet and Ligier's Jacques Laffite.

Sadly, it all fell apart for the moody Argentinean on race day when he was defeated by a recalcitrant gear-box and Williams team-mate Alan Jones, leaving Piquet to be crowned World Champion.

The following year saw another title-decider race, this time between Keke Rosberg and John Watson.

The former won the jackpot while Tyrrell driver Michele Alboreto reaped his very first Grand Prix win.

The race was also Mario Andretti's last drive in Formula 1, as well as Eddie Cheever's first podium, achieved at the wheel of a Ligier-Matra.

Given the small attendance generated on both occasions by Vegas' motor racing publicity stint, the event disappeared - quite deservedly - from the Formula 1 calendar.

At the time, it looked like what had happened in Vegas would stay in Vegas, forever.

However, four decades after F1's colossal failure to snatch a jackpot on the Strip, the sport will give itself a second shot at Sin City glory.

But this time it ha gone all-in as its own promoter and on a proper street circuit that will host a 50-lap show on a Saturday night that no one will want to miss.

Can the City of Lights live up to the hype?

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