Revving Up the Beat: Music Takes the Lead at the Inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix

In the premier Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, music and entertainment have a prominent role. As the elite motorsport explores the new race, A-list events are a big part of the celebration. A performer did the day before at the Las Vegas Grand Prix opening ceremony. On Saturday, he will close the race weekend with a longer performance, making him the only musician to take the stage at this inaugural Formula One race twice. In many ways, it is fitting:F1 is a global sport, Balvin is a globally recognized artist, and music has become increasingly integrated with the sport. Las Vegas is the most expensive F1 race of the 2023 season, and the money is palpable. Many concerts overlapped with what was expected to be the first two F1 practice sessions. Jack Harlow played an abridged set at a private SiriusXM + Pandora Concert at The Cosmopolitan. The Chainsmokers hit the stage at the Wynn. Travis Scott performed at Zouk Nightclub located in Resorts World Las Vegas, another partner of this particular race. It was raining in the Las Vegas desert on Wednesday night when Thirty Seconds to Mars emerged atop a giant, custom-built LED platform on the Formula One racetrack that will host the first ever F1 practice session. For the inaugural Vegas race weekend, the Grand Prix hosted an Opening Ceremony, not too dissimilar from the star-studded event that launched the Miami race in 2022. In less than half an hour, there were abridged performances from Keith Urban, Andra Day, Kylie Minogue, Bishop Briggs, Journey, Steve Aoki, J Balvin, and, each musician appearing atop their own LED platform. The event reflects Formula One’s accelerating influence on the music world, and vice versa. Keith Urban said, “It’s much closer to an Olympics opening ceremony than anything I’ve ever seen.” The eclectic lineup reflects a shift in the F1 audience, which has grown in popularity among young Americans over the last half decade. The inclusion of Grammy- and Oscar-winning actor Day is a welcomed surprise in a bill stacked with dedicated artists. “The Formula One world is new to me,” she said, adding that the global reach of the sport was the “biggest draw” for her to join the event. “There’s such a variety of people from all over.” For EDM DJ and Las Vegas resident Steve Aoki, the F1 Opening Ceremony is indicative of Vegas’ growing appeal. “I think of Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world,” he says. “And to be the entertainment capital of the world, you have to have it all.” He also believes that there is a shared energy to F1 and live music. “People love F1 because of the sound and the energy. People want that adrenaline and excitement — there is that synergy. And I think a lot of drivers are really big music fans as well,” he says. “I connected with (Mercedes Driver) Lewis Hamilton almost ten years back. We went to Michael Jackson’s studio in Bahrain and hung out there. There’s a lot of synergies between the drivers and music.” Just don’t except a musical collaboration between the two soon. It was more of a hang.