In recent years, enterprising race promoters, with the enthusiastic support of Formula 1 itself, have turned the grand prix into festival-type events with a constant spectacle on and off the track. Fans no longer have to twiddle their thumbs between support runs or contemplate a limited and derogatory edibles menu, with soft bacon sandwiches topped with unbranded vinegar brown sauce at the top.
That’s not to say that fans weren’t used to bringing their own entertainment to the races, although the results were mixed. From the 1960s through 1974, Watkins Glen gained a singular reputation for rowdy-making thanks to young fans who took advantage of the cheap $ 15 general admission ticket to party all weekend long. The bog, a muddy area off the track near the start / finish straight, formed the epicenter of the bacchanalia as racing enthusiasts began to bring in old cars they’d be glad to see. to set it on fire.
BBC Radio 1 arguably created the prototype of the modern Grand Prix Weekend with its ‘Fun Days’ on UK circuits throughout the 1970s. Combining track races with star guests, public participation and appearances from some of the hottest musical acts of the day, all presented by the most well-known DJs of the day (now probably more familiar to Radio 2 listeners), the Fun Days were truly ahead of their time.
Indeed, part of the fare probably wouldn’t pass a health and safety assessment today: At Brands Hatch in 1974, stuntman Eddie Kidd performed a motorcycle jump live on 12 Radio 1 DJs.
In May 1975 at Mallory Park, a bill featuring the Three Degrees, Bay City Rollers (imagine a glam-rock, tartan BTS) and Slade frontman Noddy Holder drew such a large crowd that at noon at the station. had to broadcast calls to people. stay away. Organizers had thought that by helicoptering the celebrities to a stage on Mallory Lake Island, they would achieve natural crowd control. False: The Roller Tartan Army, made up of horny teenage girls, took to the track while a race was underway and tried to swim across the lake.
1976 Tour of Britain, James Hunt (Vauxhall) shared with Noel Edmonds
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Modern racing promoters watched and learned throughout the 1990s and 2000s as live music festivals grew from relatively small-scale niche events for hardcore music fans to larger, family-friendly businesses attracting a large audience and offering a wide range of entertainment.
Silverstone led the way in transforming the British Grand Prix into the Formula 1 equivalent of Glastonbury, surrounded by safe and well-appointed campsites and offering a full weekend of live music, a lively fan village and Personal appearances by drivers to complement the action on the track. . It even has its own radio.
When Liberty Media finalized the acquisition of the commercial rights to F1 in 2017, it referred to the creation of “20 Super Bowls” – expanding the reach of F1 audiences by better promoting each race and making of each grand prix a huge event to savor, rather than two hours of action on a Sunday afternoon. It was a perfect fit with what many racing promoters were already doing.
As well as being F1’s premier nighttime race, Singapore has consistently raised the bar in terms of fan offerings. Over the grand prix weekend, an entire downtown neighborhood becomes a huge fan village featuring merchandise, exclusive hospitality experiences, and live Esports, as well as multiple music venues offering something for everyone. tastes. Some of the world’s most prominent DJs have performed here as well as a diverse range of musical acts – from Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran and Bon Jovi to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, Dua Lipa, Ariana Grande and Kylie Minogue. .
The United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas also prides itself on a comprehensive fan experience, which attracts interest from outside the traditional motorsport community. Fans of previous headliners including Pink, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder have traveled all over the United States and often experience F1 for the first time. This October at the USGP, legendary Billy Joel, the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time, is scheduled to perform on Saturday nights alongside Twenty One Pilots on Sunday.
Fans watch the action during qualifying as Lando Norris, McLaren MCL34, passes
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images
Music is just one facet of the modern Grand Prix weekend offering. There is a lot to see and do, individually or in a group. How about gathering a bunch of buddies – or joining like-minded fans – in the F1 Pit Stop challenge and getting a hands-on experience of what it’s like to swap the wheels on a car? Formula 1 in less than three seconds?
The Grand Prix F1 Fan Zone also serves as a hub for live driver appearances and autograph sessions, as well as the increasingly popular Esports Challenge which features live matches between groups of players on the official F1 game – plus great prizes including garage tours and paddock passes for the weekend’s fastest drivers.
So while many old-school European tours don’t have the real estate on-site to erect stages large enough to accommodate platinum-selling artists, they still offer a weekend full of entertainment options for one. wide range of racing fans. Fortunately, the thousands of Max Verstappen fans who take part in the European rounds behave – slightly – better than the tartan army of the Bay City Rollers…
Fans storm the track to celebrate Max Verstappen’s victory, Red Bull Racing, Austrian GP 2019
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images