When I found out that my favourite dental conference was going to be in Las Vegas (in early November), I booked it immediately, as I really do enjoy the Vegas vibe. But when I found out that Formula 1 was also having their launch party at the same time, well, now I was totally stoked. Time to dust off and pack some photography gear.
The party actually started Wednesday evening for me, as part of the main strip was completely shut down for the filming of a commercial. There was an Oracle Red Bull F1 car racing up and down the strip, followed by a Porsche with a huge roof mounted, gimble arm camera.
Then the Red Bull crew came out onto the strip for some simulated pit stop tire changes. The sound of that one car was just remarkable, as it echoed and resonated off all the buildings.
Saturday was the main event and I made my way over to Caesars Palace. If this was just the launch party, then I can’t wait for the real thing. The atmosphere was awesome, and there were a ton of activities, including DJ’s spinning the tracks, announcers ramping up the fans, videos of the most iconic races, simulators and pit stop races.
Oh, and they had a few of the F1 cars there. Access was close and interactive, and you could hold some of the car components, including an actual steering wheel. The crews were super friendly, and fans were totally respectful.
Things started to get real when the fans lined the strip, about six to eight deep, along both sides of the completely closed off Las Vegas Blvd. I tried to find a great vantage point and then the wait began.
Hamilton and Russell first greeted the fans in a pace car, and they did not let us down, with some amazing smoke engulfed, one-handed, rubber pelting burnouts.
It was now golden hour on the neon lit strip. Everyone’s phones, and my camera, were out and ready for the action. And we waited.
Then, just like a Jurassic Park movie, we all heard the roar, but couldn’t see anything. The sound hit us way before we had a visual. And then there it was… the arrival of an actual F1 car on Las Vegas Blvd. The endorphin rush was off the charts for me!
Once I picked my jaw off the ground, I started trying to get some images of this iconic event. Oracle Red Bull Racing and Mercedes-AMG Petronas teams had one of their drivers perform several live runs on the Boulevard.
The cars were running a short course, but both were impressing us with massive donuts. Loud cheers from the crowds couldn’t even dent that unique F1 engine scream. It was amazing to see the fans and the drivers so pumped.
The event finished with some on stage appearances from the drivers, a drone show and in standard Vegas style, a club event (with the Killers) that probably ended at dawn. This was definitely one of my most unique photo opportunities and I hope you enjoy the images as much as I enjoyed taking them.
I can honestly say that I have a hard time envisioning these machines going full throttle on the strip. But I’ll tell you one thing, next year’s event will set your soul on fire (Viva Las Vegas!).
- By Les Kalman