Adam’s Travel Report – 2022 Miami Grand Prix

Adam Rosales tells us about his experience at the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and offers plenty of useful advice for F1 fans thinking about attending the race.

The home of the Miami Grand Prix is composed of a mix of permanent and temporary infrastructure that surrounds Hard Rock Stadium, where the NFL Miami Dolphins are based. The stadium is actually in Miami Gardens, a suburban area about 16 miles north of downtown Miami, equidistant to Fort-Lauderdale. This opens the door to a range of flights, depending on whether you fly to Fort-Lauderdale Intl. Airport (FLL) or Miami International Airport (MIA).

Most of the circuit was built on demolished parking lots and tennis courts, which means there isn’t any elevation change at this circuit aside from the Turn 13/14 area at the exit of the beach zone. The circuit (or campus as they call it) is separated into several zones. Each campus zone has amenities within that area that offer some unique and now somewhat iconic things to see. For example the Marina zone has a fake marina with real boats that are sold as hospitality viewing areas. The Beach zone has a beach style club located trackside, featuring a pool, cabanas and a sand area to lounge in alongside the track. The Beach Club requires a separate ticket that costs $2000 for all 3 days, which also gives access to the concerts on the stage in this area.

Getting to Miami International Autodrome

There are multiple ways to access the circuit but the most common is driving or rideshare. The circuit organizes paid parking lots that are either within walking distance or require a shuttle. Same with the rideshare dropoff areas, there are some just outside the gates and some that require a shuttle. This is to help with surge pricing and minimize wait times by spreading out the crowds. There are some public transit options around the Miami area like the Miami Metro and Tri-Rail that can get you from MIA or FLL Airports to ​​Golden Glades Train Station and you can likely request a rideshare or taxi from there. The Tri-Rail is also connected to the Miami Metrorail which opens up options on places to stay with access to the train. 

About a month before the race, I received an email from the circuit informing me I was assigned a free parking pass. I really don’t know why and didn’t question it. I graciously accepted my free pass in Lot 30, which is along the canals on the northwest side of the circuit. For an F1 weekend, the drive was fairly quick from Wynwood. About 30 minutes on Saturday and about 40 minutes on Sunday. I really expected much more chaos and disorganization but it was very well managed. I took the Florida Turnpike, which was a toll road, following the instructions given with my parking pass and the road signage to arrive at the parking lot. On arrival, they scanned my ticket on my phone and let me right in. From there, it was about a 10 minute walk to the entry gate by Turn 17. 

Security at the circuit was similar to most major events in the USA. A list of the normal prohibited items was posted on the circuit website so I knew what to expect on arrival. I had a small backpack with a couple of water bottles, battery pack and phone charger and breezed right through the entrance. My bag was not searched and I used the NFC reader to scan my ticket from my phone, I don’t think I even had to stop walking in. There were plenty of ticket gates and no lines. 

Leaving the circuit area was really easy. I was out on the road and moving within a couple minutes of getting in the car. I was really surprised how efficient it all was. Even on race day. The flow of traffic was managed really well and I was back in Wynwood in under an hour on both Saturday and Sunday.

Trackside Experience

Walking around was surprisingly easy. I’m used to shoulder-to-shoulder crowds at Circuit of The Americas but there was plenty of space, no wait on bridges, just easy to get around in the lead up to F1. I know post race, there were big crowds trying to cross bridges causing some big delays if you had to walk to a specific lot or rideshare area on the other side of the campus. There were plenty of areas to relax in the shade and tents all over the place in the West campus. 

When I arrived on Saturday, I walked around the Turn 18 area (West Campus zone) then went to the Beach zone. I found a small area along one side of the Beach Club that was open to spectators without the Beach Club upgrade ticket and I was able to watch the first few minutes right at the fence as the cars went around Turn 11 and into Turn 12, it was a pretty great view. I was standing so close to the circuit, I could smell the race fuel. The vibe at the Beach zone reminded me of Foro Sol in Mexico City, a slow section but the crowds got very loud when the cars came past for the first time. 

During a red flag in FP3 I started wandering back towards the Marina. You are able to get right up to the fences on the straight leading to Turn 11, it’s really cool to get a glimpse up close of F1 cars at speed that close. The circuit is mostly catered to grandstands and hospitality areas, leaving General Admission (GA) feeling like a bit of an afterthought in 2022. The Campus Pass (GA) was released just a couple of weeks before the race. In 2023, it’s getting an upgrade and more consideration. Last year, there were some good GA areas along with some screens near the grandstands that you would be able to follow along pretty well. In 2023, they are building some GA viewing platforms in some of these areas. The platforms should help significantly since the circuit is basically flat. 

Miami Grand Prix Grandstands

The circuit has several grandstands that highlight the different areas of the campus and circuit flow. If you take a look at the track map you will see how they all vary in the types of corners you will get to see the cars maneuver. For high speed corners, Turn 1 or Marina grandstands are probably best. The Beach was a party vibe with some overtaking under braking before the slow sector of Turns 11-13. The Turn 18 grandstand is at the end of the back straight and had the most overtaking under braking during the race as well as views of pit entry. The Main grandstand on the start/finish straight had some views of Turn 19 and Turn 1 as well as the pits. 

I purchased tickets to the Turn 18 grandstand and was near the center in Section R11, Row 23. The shaded areas start around Row 18 but can vary a bit as the day goes on and the direction your seats are facing. The shade was nice but it felt like the covering blocked some of the wind so it was very hot and humid. It’s quite possible, it was just normal weather in Miami but I was sweating a lot through the weekend. The crowd and vibe was very loud and supportive for all the drivers. It was a great section to watch from. There was always somebody in our seats when we came back to them, people just trying to escape the sun and get some shade. They were all friendly and apologized before moving for us. This section was near the NW Campus entrance, a 5-10 minute walk from the gate and had plenty of food and drink available just behind the grandstand. It did not require a lot of walking to enjoy the weekend at this section.

Hospitality Areas

If you’re looking to spend some money on a luxury experience, here are several hospitality areas of different levels that you can choose. Each grandstand area typically has it’s own suites section at the top or alongside. There are also some shared hospitality club areas like the Boat House at the Marina or the Beach Club which gives access to the concerts. The club areas offer viewing platforms and include food and drink. In 2022 some of these areas seemed a bit disorganized and I read some experiences on Twitter that made it feel like a “Premium GA” ticket with a lot of people crowding on the platforms, standing on chairs to be able to watch the track action. I would look for videos of these sections if you are considering any of them. 

Hard Rock Stadium

I checked out the stadium on Sunday, it was easy to get around. There was plenty of space and some indoor, air-conditioned bathrooms. There were portable bathrooms everywhere else but even those were clean and never had any lines. The stadium views are nice from the helix areas on the corners of the stadium, but far from the track. Not too great to watch the race from, they have areas roped off to keep people out of the walkways. You could get some decent views near Turn 4, but there were no screens or timing to be able to keep up with what was happening on the track. 

Most of the restaurants and bars in the stadium were open just as they would be for an NFL game. In 2023, the stadium will be the base for the team’s paddock and hospitality areas. On Sunday morning, I walked up to the area on the stadium side of the Turn 4 bridge. They had closed off the gate for the public so Lewis Hamilton could walk over to a hospitality area for an appearance. It was pretty cool to see Lewis run by and the crowd cheered him once they realized it was him passing by. I noticed the VIP drop off for the Paddock Club was right by the bridge, so I hung out and people watched for a bit. I saw Lebron James, Parrell, Michael Jordan and a few other celebrity types walk by. Pretty strange experience but it was fun.

Food & Drink

Prices were surprisingly reasonable. Craft beers were $7.50 (Cigar City/Other Locals). Water was $5 which is about average for an American event like this. Water refill stations were located all over the place. The bottles they sold were aluminum with a screw cap that you could refill. Cocktails were about $12-20 depending on the area, with the Marina being most expensive and the Beach the cheapest. Food was well priced. I paid $13 for chicken tenders and fries. For perspective, the same meal is $20+ at COTA. There were plenty of options and some places were more expensive like Benihana or other popular restaurant chains, but overall the prices weren’t as high as I thought they would be for an event with such expensive tickets.

Miami

The city of Miami really adopted Formula 1 and there was a huge vibe in the city with “race week” events happening all around the city. There were concerts, parties and fan fests going on that made it easy to find stuff to do. Everywhere I went, I saw people wearing F1 teamwear. McLaren and Mercedes hosted events in South Beach which had displays, merchandise sales, watch parties and concerts at night. There were also many private, ticketed events such as dinners and parties throughout the city involving F1 personalities and sponsors. 

After some research and advice from a friend that has been to Miami several times, I decided to stay in Wynwood. It’s an art district with a great variety of local options for food, drink and nightlife. With plenty of restaurants, breweries, it was very walkable and felt completely safe. On Friday night, we went to J. Wakefield Brewing Taproom for some food and drinks before walking over to Wynwood Marketplace for the Racing Fan Fest that was hosted in partnership with Red Bull. There were local vendors, concerts, food and drinks for purchase. We arrived towards the end of the last concert and explored. A DJ started a set around midnight and there were still plenty of people dancing and wandering. You can expect some late nights at these events. My brother and some of his friends went to see Snoop Dogg perform at a club, and he apparently did not start until 4am. Expect late nights if you plan on going to some of the parties or concerts around Miami.

On Sunday night, my wife and I explored South Beach. It was calm with some places having some live music. We enjoyed a late dinner with some mojitos to wind down the weekend in the iconic neon glow of south beach.

Final Thoughts

We stayed in an Airbnb from Friday to Monday for $740. It was a 2 bed /2 bath condo with parking. One thing that surprised us was that food prices in Miami were really high. On average for lunch or dinner it was a minimum of $60-80 for two people. This was typically about 2 drinks and two entrees plus 20% tip. Miami is definitely on the higher end of general cost to visit. I feel like I spent more money in Miami than I did in Monaco on race weekends. We flew into MIA and rented a car ($330). Flew out of FLL since it had more flight options back to Austin.

This event really surprised me. Aside from ticket prices, it was really well run. Very efficient with well managed traffic, reasonable lines for beer/food. Some lines for merch but with the prices, you’re better off buying online. The merchandise seemed to have surge pricing at the circuit.  Even though it is priced really high, If I can get a shaded grandstand seat for less than $600, I would be easily tempted to go back but I don’t see the prices going down at least for a couple of years. I would definitely recommend going, especially for someone who is looking to attend their first Formula 1 race and is willing to pay the high ticket prices. 

Cost Breakdown

  • Airbnb – Wynwood $740 – 3 nights
  • Flights – $350 RT from Austin
  • Rental Car – $330 – 3 days
  • Turn 18 Grandstand 3 Day – $1400
  • Food  ~ $30 per person for a restaurant meal

Read More: Miami Grand Prix Travel Guide

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