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F1: Organizers Hope Music Puts the Miami in the Miami Grand Prix


Organizers at Hard Rock Stadium near Miami have hosted some of the biggest spectacles in American sports in the past five years, including the Super Bowl and college football’s national championship game.

Now they want to turn the Miami Grand Prix, the Formula 1 race being held on a serpentine racetrack around the stadium on Sunday, into appointment viewing like the Kentucky Derby and the Masters are.

Tom Garfinkel, the race’s managing partner, said that the city’s tropical locale and reputation as a party center were important facets, and that organizers were intentionally infusing the entertainment lineup with regional music, including Latin heritage and nightclub-like electronic beats.

“We’re trying to make this a destination that people mark on their calendar in the United States and around the world and say, ‘That’s something I need to attend,’” said Garfinkel, who is also the president of the N.F.L.’s Miami Dolphins.

At the third annual Miami Grand Prix, Marc Anthony, the four-time Grammy-winning Latin singer, will perform the national anthem; Kaytranada, an EDM producer born in Haiti, will play at the end of the race. Weekend performances at a festival-like venue near the racetrack included the Puerto Rican rapper Don Omar and the Miami-born D.J. Steve Aoki.

The attempt to distinguish the race also includes visual artists. The Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra, whose work has been featured at Art Basel, painted a mural near the track.

“I think Tom’s vision is a really important one because this mixture between sport and art is the DNA of Miami,” Kobra said in Portuguese through an interpreter. “That’s how it’s related, and it helps us to capture the hearts and minds of the young people in the city.”

Enlisting musicians and entertainers connected to a major event’s host region is a common strategy among sports leagues. When the Super Bowl was in Inglewood, Calif., in 2022, the halftime show featured the Los Angeles rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar.

In November, Donny Osmond sang the national anthem at Las Vegas’s Formula 1 race, and at the race that has been held in Austin, Texas, since 2012, organizers have used local bands to complement the headliners.

“Having those local artists makes such a big difference because there’s a draw from the community,” said Sharifa Wilkinson, a professor at Florida International University who helped plan aspects of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. “You’re speaking to not only an international audience, but the audience that’s there and you’re fulfilling a part of your target market’s needs.”

Not all musical acts at the Miami Grand Prix have local connections. The English pop star Ed Sheeran and the EDM artist Kaskade, who grew up in Chicago, also performed during the weekend.

Formula 1 primarily races in Europe and the Middle East but has captured a nascent American fan base with help from six seasons of the Netflix docuseries “Formula 1: Drive to Survive.”

Despite logistical challenges, including clogged traffic because of road closures, Las Vegas Grand Prix officials said more than 300,000 fans attended their inaugural race. About 270,000 people went to last year’s Miami Grand Prix, including celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Serena Williams.

Kaytranada said he was not a Formula 1 fan but chose to perform this year because of how much he enjoyed attending the first Miami race in 2022. The beach was a particularly strong selling point, he said.

“I get that it’s important to a lot of people, especially out here, so I’m trying to understand how important it is and kind of emulate that importance and to celebrate with the people,” he said.

Garfinkel said the model for the entertainment lineup was one that race organizers wanted to continue in the future.

“Miami’s changed a lot in the last few years, so as it’s changing, we’re trying to adjust along with it a little bit,” he said. “The culture is a wide spectrum in a place like Miami.”



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