Revamping one of the most well-known streets in the world — the Vegas Strip — into a racing circuit might seem an impossible challenge. But the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix, set for Nov. 16 to 18, is hustling to do just that in a $560 million civil-planning and engineering feat that is currently underway before the track goes hot.
“This is one of the most aggressive programs of construction and design I’ve seen, certainly in Vegas, as well as sports,” says Terry Miller, project manager for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
In June 2022, John Malone’s Liberty Media, which owns Formula One Group, bought 39 acres of land on the northeast corner of Koval Lane and Harmon Avenue for the Paddock Building. Miller says that before they even had a design, the purchasing of construction materials began to avoid supply chain delays. In November 2022, F1 and Liberty Media hosted a groundbreaking ceremony. At the beginning of October 2023, they are expected to earn an occupancy permit.
“[Liberty Media] acquired Formula One about seven years ago. I was the lead mergers and acquisitions lawyer on the transaction. I got to know a lot about Formula One and their process,” says Renee Wilm, chief legal and administrative officer of Liberty Media and CEO of Las Vegas Grand Prix. “Then fast forward a year later to a phone call from my colleagues in London. They are very interested in holding a race in Las Vegas in 2023. They asked me if I would start going out to Vegas and begin the dialogue to get to know the regulators and the local stakeholders.”
From that point forward, things began to move rapidly, with Wilm rallying the support of business owners, Clark County Commissioners, the public works department and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
An extensive street-paving project required to create the 3.8-mile raceway (which runs from Koval Lane to Sands Avenue and then down Las Vegas Boulevard to Harmon Avenue) started in April, affecting the Strip and adjacent roads and disrupting driving for resort guests and casino employees who service the resort corridors 150,000 rooms. Locals once boasted that it only took 15 minutes to get anywhere within the easy-to- navigate city. That narrative has been replaced with gripes about gridlock and orange cones.
“We are holding an event that’s never been done before,” Wilm says. “There are other street races on our calendar, such as Monaco and Singapore, but even when you consider those, this is a living, breathing city, that’s 24 hours, nonstop action. To bring an event of this magnitude and shut down the roadways at the same time; there’s just no playbook for this.”
The road work involves taking out some medians as well as removing 5 to 10 inches of road that is then replaced with a denser pavement, followed by the application of a racing layer that “is smooth and has no ripples,” says Miller. The race track surface should hold about six years without having to be redone.
“The level of inconvenience that’s been caused this year is not going to be repeated,” Wilm says.
Miller notes the Las Vegas Grand Prix is doing what it can to minimize traffic disruptions, working one-on-one with each resort to address concerns.
“With our paving routines, we’ve tried to avoid shift changes [at resorts] and paving all the way across service drives so we can keep business functioning. It’s not just a civil engineering process. It’s a planning process. It’s a logistics process,” he says.
Completed in record time, the multistory Paddock Building — the length of three American football fields and located just off the Strip, behind Planet Hollywood resort — will cost an estimated $480 million.
In ground-floor garages adjacent to the starting line, each racing team will have three days to completely build out their space, constructing two cars onsite for the night race. Upstairs, there is the Paddock Club and suites as well as the Wynn Grid Club.