LIFE HACK Las Vegas GP diary: A look back at the...

Las Vegas GP diary: A look back at the best views of F1’s newest race


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Keep up to speed with all our coverage from the Las Vegas Grand Prix right here. 

LAS VEGAS – A refresher: My assignment for the Las Vegas Grand Prix was to cover the scene, the spectacle and things to do — pretty much everything but the race.

But when I landed in Vegas with no media credential, I wondered if I might spend six days there without catching a glimpse of a single car. That turned out to be far from the case, as I was able to get closer to the track than the other F1 races I’ve attended with a press pass at Miami and Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.

The nature of a street circuit makes it impossible for organizers to block every viewing angle. Sure, it might not be comfortable or a place where you can stand for very long at one time – but being able to see F1 cars for free when other people in the city are paying tens of thousands of dollars for that privilege feels like a life hack.

After sampling various options this week through a combination of trial, error and media tours, here are my recommendations on how to do the Las Vegas Grand Prix if you are intrigued enough to try again next year.

Price point: $0(ish)

As I wrote in an earlier F1 diary entry this week, fans found plenty of ways to watch the action without spending a dime. Despite organizers’ best efforts to block many of the angles, it was easy to get unobstructed views in several areas.

But that doesn’t even come close to the best free viewing experience I found – and I initially overlooked it because I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

F1 partner American Express built a gorgeous, three-level structure called the “American Express Fan Experience.” When I initially read the news release about the hospitality area, it never even occurred to me it could be accessed without a race ticket.

Sure enough, that was the case. Even though it sounded pretty fancy – food from Wolfgang Puck, drinks from Moët Hennessy, a “Race Recovery Lab” where guests could hydrate with juices, recaffeinate or get a Therabody massage – the only requirements to access the Amex Fan Experience were to be a card member and make a reservation through the official Las Vegas Grand Prix app.

AmEx offered surprisingly good views of the track, for free — to cardholders. (Jeff Gluck/The Athletic)

When I finally wrapped my head around it and got a tour of the place, I couldn’t believe it. The bottom level was reserved for basic card members, and the upper two floors (with the high-end food and drink) were for Platinum and Centurion cardholders only.

But geez, who cares? This was a free seating area right next to the racetrack, and the only requirement was to have enough reading comprehension (unlike myself) to grasp what American Express was offering.

It seemed too good to be true, honestly. But, setting aside the annual fee I was already paying for my card, it wasn’t. Even though space was limited (hence the reservation requirement), the concept of giving away free viewing at the most expensive race in F1 history was mind-blowing.

That sure beats riding the escalators at pedestrian bridges up and down.

Price point: $500 per day

T-Mobile Zone at Sphere was the track’s general admission area. Even though there weren’t many of these tickets available, those who got them could watch some of the biggest names hit the concert stage (which was in that zone) all week. Plus, each ticket came with free food and drinks.

It was a step below having an actual reserved grandstand seat, but still, it was pretty decent value for a get-in price, considering the cost elsewhere.

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 18: A packed grandstand watches qualifying during the Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, NV. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Grandstand seats started at $1,500 per day. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Price point: $1,500 per day

This was the cost of the cheapest available grandstand ticket, which…OK, fine. I’m sure this was the most reasonable option for a lot of people. Personally, though, I can’t see where this would be the best way to go.

While others are sitting in high-end hospitality areas around the track, you’re sitting in a seat outside in the desert chill and stuck with one angle for the whole race. If it were in the budget, I’d go big and find a single-day ticket to a hospitality area.

Price point: $3,000 per day

Yes, this is double the cost of a grandstand ticket (at least at the original price before prices plummeted). But getting into the fantastic Heineken House (listed at $8,720 for a three-day ticket) would’ve been worth it.

Not only are there trackside views, but the food menu is the same as the upper-end Paddock Club experience. Heineken House patrons had three levels to choose from and walked up to various dining stations, where a chef would plate the food right in front of them (garnishes and all).

The Heineken House was also a trendy, hip place to be: The third level had a dance floor, and when I stopped by the Grammy award winner Anderson .Paak happened to be doing a DJ set while fewer than 30 people danced nearby. It was an incredible sight.

No, the views aren’t what you would get at the Paddock Club. But the Heineken House is still right next to the track, so it’s worth it.

Price point: $3,750 per day

In Saturday’s diary, I wrote about the jaw-dropping Bellagio Fountain Club. Tickets for this area initially went on sale at $11,247 for a three-day pass.

I’ll spare you from rereading the details – they’re all here – but I’m not sure I’d want anything more than to be in this area for the race.

Like the Heineken House, it could be argued the Paddock Club’s spot in the center of everything is more desirable. But sitting next to the fountains and eating food from the Bellagio’s roster of celebrity chefs while watching the cars scream by on the Strip below you is tough to beat.

Price point: $5,000 per day

The actual day-by-day cost of the Paddock Club is tough to quantify. F1 sold five-day passes there for $15,000 each, which would make you think it’s “only” $3,000 per day.

But in reality, one of those days was the Opening Ceremony (which was cool but lasted only 30 minutes), and another was a “Sunday Recovery Brunch” inside the Sphere.

So, for our purpose, let’s estimate a single-day Paddock Club ticket at $5,000. And even that varies since the Paddock Club (the breathtaking new pit building that overlooks both the front stretch and Turns 2/3) features all sorts of companies that were able to sell passes for the elite experience.

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 18: General view of cars racing through turn 1 with the paddock and garage building in the background during the inaugural Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Gran Prix on November 18, 2023 on the Las Vegas Street Circuit in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Paddock building offered terrific views — at a steep cost. (Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For example, AmEx has an area in the Paddock Club where card members can purchase access. However, that might be a different cost than the areas offered by the major casinos on the Strip (since those are part of hotel packages) and every manner of F1 corporate partner.

Is it worth it? If you can afford it, heck yeah. There’s chef-prepared food, magnificent views (of the track and the Strip in the distance), and a chance to cheer alongside the rich and famous.

You can look down on everything from the paddock to pit stops to the podium ceremony. It’s great – if you can afford it.

Our pick: American Express Fan Experience

Somehow, the Amex Fan Experience brought the average fan inside for free when nearly everything else about the Las Vegas Grand Prix seemed to focus on keeping them out.

To wit: Some of you may have read The Athletic’s story from Friday, in which we spoke to three race fans who only had tickets for Thursday’s disrupted practice sessions (which fans were ultimately barred from seeing).

One of those fans, Diego Alvarado, had told The Athletic he had no other ticket options for the remainder of the weekend. But guess where he ended up?

That’s the sort of thing we love to see.

More from The Athletic’s Las Vegas Grand Prix coverage:

F1 may have won in Las Vegas — but changes are needed for next year

Our turn-by-turn breakdown of the Las Vegas Strip Circuit

LVGP takeaways: Riveting race ends tough Sin City debut on a high

(Lead image of fans using escalators to watch the Las Vegas GP: ANP via Getty Images)


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