F1 race in Las Vegas is already embroiled in a lawsuit
Last week, Formula 1 announced its return to Las Vegas in November 2023, amid a flurry of excitement from normal people and outcry from a few diehards who think F1 should only race at Spa or Monza. You might think the main controversy would be Vegas becoming the 74th place to hold a Grand Prix race on a day that isn’t Sunday, but it’s actually a Vegas businessman and former politician who says that he has a legitimate contract to be the promoter of the race, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
An F1 race promoter is basically the company that runs the actual racing and can be a very lucrative business, especially if you plan to sell hotel rooms and VIP suites at crazy prices in places like, say , Vegas. There is a good deal of liability (you can find yourself tied to contracts if there is some kind of force majeure like a global pandemic or whatever), that F1 is usually happy to let you down for them. It’s also a way many people have made a lot of money from races in the past.
So becoming the promoter of the new Vegas race would be a big deal, and it turns out there are some conflicting parties involved. the Las Vegas Exam Log reports that F1 owners Liberty Media are suing two guys in Vegas who claim they already have the contract for the Las Vegas race.
It dates back to 2013, when F1 was under its former monomaniac owner. Famous Bernie Ecclestone negotiated every contract himself, from broadcasting to races, and there were precedents fuzzy understandings exactly what had been agreed between a promoter and Ecclestone. A good example is back in 2012, when a row between Ecclestone and the United States Grand Prix promoters threatened to halt construction of COTA.
The argument now pits Las Vegas businessman Farid Shidfar and his partner in P2M Motorsports, Chad Christensen, against Liberty Media, the owners of Formula 1 since 2017. Shidfar says he received a letter in 2013 of Bernie Ecclestone who named to mount an operation to be promoter of a Grand Prix of Las Vegas. Liberty Media says it’s not a contract and doesn’t have to be honored. Of course, they come to blows in court, according to the report.
Liberty Media filed a lawsuit against Shidfar and Christensen, claiming that “as a direct result of P2M’s intentional interference, Formula 1’s potential contractual relationships with LVCVA, R&R and other third parties have been thwarted, resulting in minimal delay, and potentially cancellation, of plans for a Formula 1 race in Las Vegas, and causing Formula 1 substantial damages in an amount to be proven at trial.”
Shidfar and Christensen, on the other hand, say that in fact, they or they
paved the way for a race in Las Vegas by mustering the political and economic goodwill and working for years to prepare for it, so they think they should be the promoters.
Christensen told the publication that Liberty Media never attempted to negotiate with P2M, saying, “Their way of talking to us was to slap us with a lawsuit and kick us out. They want to crush us with their wallets.”
The Vegas race, which has no specific date for 2023 but was announced to be a Saturday evening in November, was announced despite litigation. But this is an ongoing affair, so it will be interesting to see who wins here.
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