Sorry this is almost a week late.
As everybody knows, last weekend marked the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and Formula 1 continuing to make inroads here in America adding another marquee race to its circuit.
If you're like me, you probably caught the F1 bug over covid thanks to Drive To Survive on Netflix. I admittedly still don't know shit about the sport, especially compared to lifelong fans like Logan and MRags, but that hasn't stopped me from loving getting to learn it and watch it every race.
There's a certain innocence and enjoyment you get out of experiencing something foreign and new for the first time. Every race you pick up on something you didn't know before - what DRS actually is all about, how and why different tyre types are used, and when, how each driver's and teams personality plays out in qualifying vs. race day, and on and on.
All that said, I'm happy to report that my lucky horseshoe still remains stuck up my ass as I was presented yet another opportunity of a lifetime that seemed too good to be true.
A couple that I have made good friends with since DJing their wedding (which also featured Dan & Shay, and The Chainsmokers), asked me to come and play the whole F1 weekend- for their kick-off event, and then in the Paddock Club each day.
An absolutely outrageous proposition that I obviously couldn't say no to.
After getting my background check cleared for credentials (similar to when I worked the Super Bowl in Minnesota and Miami), I began preparing for the weekend both musically, and racing knowledge-wise.
The following is my journal from each day -
I arrived in Miami a day earlier to make sure I was situated and didn't run into any flight issues.
The race was actually being held out in Miami Gardens, FL at Hard Rock Stadium (where the Dolphins play) so it was closer to Fort Lauderdale than it was actually Miami, so that's where everybody was put up.
There was a big private kick-off event that night held by Heineken and F1 that featured Kygo and it was pretty unreal.
Guy brought out everybody for his song features-
Seeing just how MASSIVE the setup was down by the stadium was kind of staggering.
Here's a good view of the actual track layout-
Lewis Hamilton did a presser earlier building up hype for the event and was "all-in" on Miami
I knew the track would be big and all, but had no idea just how much space it actually took up and how many different activations were inside of it. And that was just the view from outside of it. I couldn't wait to get in on Friday morning and take a walk around.
Miami did such a great job building up the hype that the drivers, who are well accustomed by now to over the top shows and hype in every city they go to, were especially impressed.
F1.com - “I’ll stick to driving on the track,” joked Lewis Hamilton after he sent a golfing drive wayward into the water on the Miami Beach Golf Club’s 10th Tee. The seven-time world champion – whose swing was pretty impressive considering he’s not manoeuvred a club for years – had teamed up with NFL legend Tom Brady for a charity golf challenge, ahead of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in Miami Gardens.
This was just one of a multitude of off-track activities that were taking place in the build-up to F1’s newest race – which already has the feeling of the kind of big sporting occasions the United States do so well. Reigning world champion Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez found themselves at the Miami Marlins baseball ground learning to pitch the perfect ball. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc had a go too, the Ferrari driver telling me that while he found catching with the glove a challenge, he was handy at the throwing element.
Daniel Ricciardo spent an afternoon thrashing about on a jet-ski, before having dinner with Yuki Tsunoda that evening. The Japanese driver loves his food, and is thus in his element in Miami, renowned for its food scene that has Cuban, Mexican and Caribbean inspiration, and said the crab he had with Ricciardo was among the best he’s ever eaten.
It’s no wonder they were all in such good form when they gathered in the green room ahead of Wednesday night’s opening party, headlined by Norwegian DJ Kygo. The Miami Grand Prix is more than just a race, it’s an event. Sure, the drivers can’t fully enjoy all that the Sunshine State city can offer, but in coming early to acclimatise to the time zone, they can train in warm conditions, engage with elite athletes, try new sports and get some quality downtime during an intense season.
Anyone who is anyone will want a ticket to the Miami Grand Prix, which didn’t take long to sell out. The list of celebrities is so long, perhaps only Monaco has rivalled it – and even then, this cast might be the most impressive F1 has ever seen. Tennis sensations Serena and Venus Williams are expected to make an appearance, along with basketball legend Michael Jordan, Hollywood stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Ryan Reynolds, TV host James Corden and Beckham himself.
Talk about a murderer's row of ambassadors to the sport. Holy shit.
Thursday we got things started with a private house party for some of the founding members and groups of the race. It was at one of the sickest houses I've ever seen right on the intercoastal. I played a few-hour set accompanied by this electric violin group out of NYC that was dope.
Behind me was docked one of the most beautiful boats I've ever seen-
And they had fire breathers doing crazy shit like this -
FRIDAY - PRACTICE DAY
Friday was "practice day" at the track.
Here was the layout and some fun facts -
The safety car christened the track
Here was the schedule
I arrived bright and early around 9 am to set up and get acquainted with everything.
The die-hards made sure to be there bright and early as well. Like this guy who fuckin ruled.
The Dolphins were everywhere all weekend which was pretty cool-
I was playing in the Paddock Club
The Paddock Club is a place I would never in my wildest dreams been able to afford getting into. Bougie doesn't begin to describe it. It makes the owners' boxes at Churchill Downs look like the poor house.
Each team has their own suite, along with all the big partners of F1 and the Miami Grand Prix.
There is this giant rooftop patio where you can see a ton of different parts of the track from as well as look down right at the start/finish line.
I was playing in the Gainbridge suite. Gainbridge is a big-time name in the racing world and was at the forefront of helping Miami land this race.
We had unbelievable sight lines from the first floor of the Paddock Club. Right above the pits!
The practice runs were awesome to take in.
Getting to hear the actual roar in real life and seeing just how fast these machines accelerate, and even more impressively (to me at least) how fast they can decelerate, was bananas.
Some guys were aggressive and took them seriously. Some guys barely participated at all.
After practice wrapped, they brought all these insane streetcars out on the track and let civilians (I'm guessing filthy fucking rich and extremely well-connected ones) whip them around the track.
Later that night I met up with Gaz and his friends at Cote. If you haven't been to Cote, I highly recommend it. It's a Korean Steakhouse and it's out of this world. I've never been able to get a reservation before so this was my first time going. Scoring a Friday night of Race Weekend 10pm reservation is nothing when you're The Salesguy.
Dinner was unreal.
From there we hit a Post Malone after-party that The Numbers Project was throwing, stopped in and saw friends at Bottled Blonde, and then headed to Elleven where Snoop Dogg was performing.
Snoop is something else man. Even at his age, guy still brings the thunder.
The highlight of the night for me was seeing Ruckus there, and Whoo Kid play for Snoop's set, and taking in Snoop's new, massive Death Row chain.
SATURDAY - QUALIFYING DAY
On Saturday morning I arrived bright and early, still kind of banged up from the night before, but absolutely loving the weather. It was perfect outside (early).
I walked in and the Porsche cars were on the track flying around it.
I saw Greg Norman walk by us at one point and the man is absolutely shredded. In incredible shape for anybody, not just somebody his age. I had to do a double-take because I couldn't believe it was him.
I met Ludacris who was cool as fuck. (I actually DJ'd for him wayyyy back in the day when he was still "coming up" and was promoting his cognac, "Conjure", and did a promo show at Uncle Fatties in Chicago (real ones will remember). Totally random but unreal party.
He was walking around the Paddock Club with a giant afro and huge gold chain looking like he just came off the "Word Of Mouf" album cover.
(the helmet game this weekend was exceptional)
I had a little time to kill so I walked around the place to sightsee.
They did a "Ferrari Parade" with what seemed like a hundred Ferrari's from way back in the day all the way til present.
They built a fake beach, with staged yachts (not sure how they did this still), where people were partying right next to the track. It was very cool.
They allowed one more practice run of an hour before qualifying.
During the practice run they let some of the Dolphins experience what its like being apart of the pit crews
After a practice run, it was time the Women's race before Q1-
Q1 began and there was an electricity throughout the grounds not felt yet
These slugs got cut
What was really cool watching the first and second qualifying rounds was how Lewis Hamilton kind of just "hung around" in the back knowing where he needed to be in order to make the cut. He didn't go full throttle or press things whatsoever. Because he knew he didn't need to.
Scuderia Ferrari ended up sweeping in what was an amazing final couple laps by Leclerc
That night was the Canelo fight so we hunkered down to watch Dave, Dan, and Robbie call it from ringside.
The next morning was Mother's Day and…
SUNDAY - RACE DAY
Sunday at the track was unlike either of the other days. By miles. You want to talk about pageantry. It’s like prom for adult women. The heat (temperature) was excruciating. It was 86 and sunny to start the day. I have no idea how the hell the drivers drive in that. They have to be absolutely soaked post-race.
Paris Hilton walked by in the Paddock Club early and she has a FLEET of security guards. Like Pres she's shorter than expected but she is a stunner in person.
Another thing that became evident very early in the day was that sunglasses are like beards for girls. Makeup to the nth degree. They make any girl look attractive. The bigger they are the more attractive looking too.
These Moke's stole the show all weekend.
They were carting VIP's around in them instead of golf carts and people were freaking out over them.
I've seen them in the islands before on the street, and rented one in the Virgin Islands. They're gas and/or electric. And completely customizable. And I think they start at like 20k. Worth checking out.
There felt like there were double or triple the amount of people there Sunday than were there the day before. Estimates I was told were around 95,000 people but it seemed like much more.
There was a buzz felt immediately upon entering the gates. It felt like being at a Super Bowl. Except way more spread out.
One thing I realized was that KIDS LOVE LANDO! saw so many kids walking around in Lando jerseys and McClaren swag it was crazy. He's a huge hit. And its hard to blame them, he's basically their age and he's fuckin awesome.
The stars were also out. Heavy.
And Martin Brundle was there on the scene
So was Clair Holt
It's pretty amazing the leaps and bounds F1 has made in America in just a few years.
Going from a true "fringe" sport to pretty much a household name is no easy feat to do here (just ask MLS).
The New York Post did a great piece on it on Sunday.
NYP - With more than 400 million viewers, Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world. Yet for many years it was all but unknown in America.
But reality TV changed all that.
Since the Netflix series “Drive to Survive” — featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the usually-secretive racing teams and the sometimes contentious relationships between drivers and team executives — debuted in 2019, the American audience for Formula 1 has skyrocketed.
Netflix doesn’t publicize viewer data, but the audience for ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 races has nearly doubled — up to 1.5 million views per race — since the show premiered.
According to a recent Nielsen study, Formula 1 is on track to top a billion worldwide fans this year, with 77 percent of those new fans under 35 years old.
Formula 1 has gotten so big that Sun., May 8, marks the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, which will be run in the Hard Rock Stadium — complete with a makeshift Monaco-style marina for yachts built just for the occasion — and has ticket prices rivaling the Super Bowl
Getting to see the production behind "Drive To Survive" was incredible. The amount of cameras they have EVERYWHERE is nuts. We're talking a bunch of helicopters in the air capturing footage, cameramen running around everywhere, and mounted cameras on everything. It's brilliant and obviously works seeing as the show blasted F1 to the center of everybody's hearts. Other major sports leagues would be wise to figure out a way to do the same. Like Hard Knocks but with less to do about the family shit and more to do with the intricacies of the game and what a grind the season is for these guys.
They cut from the National Anthem to piping Tiesto's set in from the beach club in right before the race started to pump everybody up and it was genius.
The race itself was crazy.
Talk about a step up from qualifying. You could tell this was the real deal right from the jump.
The first 30-40 laps were pretty uneventful except for Verstappen passing Leclerc (masterfully)
which drew a gigantic roar from everybody in attendance and was really a goosebumps moment.
And Gasly fucking up Lando's day.
Then the goddamned safety car came out for what felt like eternity. (The safety car sucks).
Once the caution flag lifted it was a dog fight to the final 57th lap between Verstappen and Leclerc. With Verstappen managing to hold Leclerc off without much of a fight it seemed.
I hit the gift shop post race in hopes of scoring a Ferrari hat finally. (the gift shop sold out of Ferrari hats every single day)
The podium presentation was kind of crazy-
A few random takeaways from the weekend -
- People go fucking crazy for Maluma. guy was mobbed everywhere he went
-I don't think I've ever seen anything, nevermind something of this scale, so perfectly timed. I had an official run of show each day and when I say every single race, practice, or qualifying went off at the exact milisecond listed, i mean it. the announcements, too. crazy impressive
- I don’t know how they did it, considering I still haven’t been to a baseball or nfl game which has half the amount of people, but the Wi-Fi worked no matter where you went.
By Sunday night I was wiped out. Which sucks because Gaz and the crew were hitting Elleven again for Tiesto.
Lando and Verstappen hit up Kygo late night.
Mahomes and Allen were there too
The weekend kicked my ass but it was worth it. What an unbelievable job by everybody that was apart of putting it together. The cities of Miami, Lauderdale, and Hollywood. Everybody at Hard Rock Stadium, F1, the teams, Gainbridge, and the other sponsors knocked it out of the park.
Job well done to everybody.
I cannot wait to come back again next year, and can't begin to imagine how insane Vegas is going to be.