The Caesars Palace Grand Prix was a car race which was a Formula One World Championship event in 1981 and 1982. Nissan/Datsun was a presenting sponsor of both races. When Watkins Glen went off the schedule after 1980, F1 continued to look west and put an event in Las Vegas for the 1981 campaign. The new race ended the year, whereas Long Beach started it, but it was not popular among the drivers, primarily because of the desert heat. It has also been described as one of the worst circuits Formula One has ever visited.
The track was laid out in the parking lot of the Caesars Palace hotel and was surprisingly well set up for a temporary circuit: wide enough for overtaking, it provided ample run-off areas filled with sand, and had a surface that was as smooth as glass. Its counter-clockwise direction, however, put a tremendous strain on the drivers' necks. When Nelson Piquet clinched his first World Championship by finishing fifth in 1981, it took him fifteen minutes to recover from heat exhaustion after barely making it to the finish. The 1982 race was won by Michele Alboreto in a Tyrrell, but that was the end of Formula One racing in Las Vegas since the races had drawn only tiny crowds.
Following the withdrawal of Formula One, the event was assumed by CART for 1983 and 1984. The circuit was modified with turns 1, 6, and 10 connected in a continuous straight, producing a flat 1.125-mile distorted oval. The two races were contested over 178 laps, a distance of 200.250 miles. For the 1984 running, the exit of the final corner was widened, increasing lap speeds by around 7 mph from the previous year. There have been speculative rumours of a return of a Las Vegas Grand Prix to the F1 calendar. In fact, the 1995 Indianapolis 500 program advertised a possible street circuit along The Strip, but it never materialized. After the 2005 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis, rumors again circulated, however, it is one of many circuit linked with future races, and a strict limit on the number of races in a year means Las Vegas is not a favourite for a race.
Last race (1984):
- Laps: 75
- Circuit length: 3.650 km (2.268 mi)
- Race length: 273.750 km (170.100 mi)
- Number of times held: 4
- First held: 1981
- Last held: 1984
- United States Danny Sullivan
- United States Tom Sneva
- United States Mario Andretti
- United States John Paul, Jr.