Revisiting the Vegas Grand Prix 16 years later

Revisiting the Vegas Grand Prix 16 years later

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In seven months, the Las Vegas Strip will echo with the sounds of Formula 1 when grand prix racing returns to the valley. Organizing, managing and pulling off a race like this is a major challenge, but it’s not the first time Las Vegas valley streets have been turned into a race track.

This is not about the F1 races at Caesars Palace. This was the Champ Car World Series that raced around downtown and what’s now called the Arts District. The 2007 Vegas Grand Prix for the Champ Car series happened was April 6, 2007 — 16 years ago.

The track for the 2007 Las Vegas Grand Prix took drivers south from the start/finish line on South Grand Central Parkway, a left turn onto West Bonneville heading east, another left turn onto Main Street, a quick right onto Carson followed by a quick left onto Bridger, left on Casino Center, right back onto Carson, left onto South 4th Street, left onto Ogden Avenue, and finally through the Grand Central Parkway tunnel back to the start/finish line.

One of the driving forces behind the race was Dale Jensen, a Phoenix businessman who admits he spent millions to throw a “great party” but ultimately lost his investment. “The bad side was what it cost me,” Jensen told “It was expensive.”

At the time, Champ Car was one of the top racing series in the country. While race organizers hoped to put on a show and make money, the city wanted to bring more people back downtown. This was one of the events that started downtown’s revitalization.

In 2007 Jorge Cervantes was the city’s deputy director of public works. Today, he’s the city manager. “It took a lot of people and a lot of planning to pull this off,” Cervantes told “It was a big effort. We hadn’t closed down that portion of downtown before.”

As the race weekend started, there were 40,000 fans lining downtown streets. A major difference between the 2007 Grand Prix and the 2023 Grand Prix will be the cost for fans. In 2007 it was free to watch the race.

While the drivers ended up liking the track layout on the streets of Las Vegas, for locals there was a different sentiment. Some businesses were cut off from traffic because of the track layout. “How do you keep businesses going and how do you keep people commuting while all this is being set up,” Cervantes said.

This race was supposed to return for two more years but that never happened because the Champ Car series folded.

“After the problems, we found getting the sponsorship and those types of things for the race, I didn’t have the stomach to try it again,” Jensen said. In the end, he said he lost around $6 million.

“It was successful in that it was a good race, everybody had a good time,” Jensen added. “I ended up losing, but whatever.”