Grandstand tickets at the Las Vegas Grand Prix made headlines for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because they were so expensive, averaging over $2000 for a 3-day ticket. Secondly, because the fans who’d paid all that money were kicked out of the stands before FP2 started.
But there’s something else which went under the radar at the Las Vegas GP. A loophole allowed some smart fans to save themselves thousands of dollars and get an amazing view of the racing from a grandstand seat for free.
Spectating at the Las Vegas Grand Prix
Las Vegas did everything they could to stop non-paying fans catch a glimpse of the Formula 1 action on the streets of Sin City.
They blanked out the glass screens on the pedestrian bridges that crossed the circuit and lined the edges of the street with high barriers and black sheeting.
So to be guaranteed a view of the F1, you needed a ticket. When buying a ticket to watch the Las Vegas Grand Prix you had to select which of the spectator zones you wanted to watch from. These Zones were at different parts of the track, and your ticket would only allow you to access one zone.
Every zone had a number of grandstands within it, and 3-day ticket prices for Las Vegas F1 grandstand seats would range from about $1600 in the West Harmon Zone to well over $2500 in the Sphere and East Harmon Zones at face value. VIP grandstand seats in the Mirage Zone would set you back over $4000.
The only other option was to get a Las Vegas General Admission ticket. These were just $500 for all 3 days but were very limited in number, and sold out almost instantly.
Las Vegas General Admission Sphere Zone
The only zone you could access with a General Admission ticket was the Sphere Zone. This ticket didn’t give you access to any grandstands, just some standing-room only areas alongside the track by Turn 7. Plus all the food vendors and Vegas F1 concert stage right next to the Sphere itself.
The video below shows the views from the General Admission areas. And I’m sure you’ll agree, they’re not great. But at a fifth of the price of the grandstand seats in the Sphere Zone, what do you expect?
At every other Formula 1 race I’ve been to, you get your tickets checked on the way in to the venue. Then, if you’ve got grandstand seats, you get your tickets checked again when you try and enter one of the stands.
I had tickets to one of the Sphere Zone grandstands, so when I arrived at the circuit my tickets were scanned and checked at the entrance to the Sphere Zone.
When I walked to my grandstand, however, they weren’t checked again. And that’s where the Vegas F1 race was different.
The stewards standing at the top of the grandstand stairs were simply there to help me find my seat and check I knew which aisle to walk down. Very nice they were too.
The same went for General Admission ticket holders. Their tickets were scanned to get them in to the Sphere Zone, but once in they could walk around the whole zone and even try their luck in one of the grandstands.
And that’s exactly what happened. I sat next to a guy in my grandstand, directly opposite the Sphere, who had paid $500 for his 3-day General Admission tickets. After quickly realizing the view was rubbish from the standing-room only areas, he thought he’d see if he could get in to the grandstands. Sure enough, he could.
Now he had an incredible view from a seat that should have cost $2500 for 3 days.
Did I mind that he’d paid about $2000 less for that view than those who’d actually bought grandstand tickets at face value? Not at all.
The Las Vegas GP organizers were taking most fans for a ride with their ticket pricing, so I felt proud of my neighbor for beating the system and saving himself shed loads of money. I bought a last-minute resale ticket for less than $200 bucks so I felt pretty smug too.
The Las Vegas GP infamously didn’t sell out thanks to those crazy ticket prices, so there were plenty of empty seats. I even checked out the view from a couple of other grandstands myself to see where had the best vantage point.
Hopefully there were many other General Admission ticket holders who spotted this loophole and gave themselves a serious seat upgrade for free. Don’t count on it happening next year though.