Meet the Women Behind the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix

When Liberty Media purchased Formula 1 in 2017, its goal was to turn it into a global powerhouse. Social media wasn’t allowed in F1 back then and there certainly weren’t any Netflix cameras following drivers’ every move.

Six years later, Formula 1 is more popular than ever and continues to expand, particularly in the United States. The Miami Grand Prix debuted in 2022 to much acclaim, while the Las Vegas Grand Prix is preparing to speed down The Strip in Sin City on Nov. 18.

“We could not be more excited or more nervous about getting everything done in time,” Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm told Boardroom. “It’s a massive undertaking with very little time left, but we are fortunate to have an incredible team. We are all running 100 mph, no pun intended. It’s a lot to do but it is a super exciting time for us.

A former Baker Botts senior partner, Wilm joined Liberty Media in September 2019 as chief legal and administrative officer. She became Las Vegas Grand Prix CEO on Aug. 31. 

Along with Formula 1 commercial executive Emily Prazer, who relocated from the United Kingdom to Las Vegas to serve as the grand prix’s Chief Commercial Officer, the two are tasked with ensuring the inaugural race is not only a success, but lays the groundwork for Liberty and F1 to build on for years to come. In February, the Clark County Commission passed a motion to secure the Las Vegas Grand Prix through 2032 after initially approving a three-year deal.

This year’s race is expected to generate an estimated $1.3 billion in economic impact, according to recent analysis. That’s more than double the estimated $600 million impact of Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024 at Allegiant Stadium. The sum for the race weekend (Nov. 16-18) includes a projected $966 million in visitor spending and another $316 million in event operations and support.

Prazer said ticket demand has been “unprecedented.” The $15,000-per-person, five-day Paddock Club is sold out, while other multi-day grandstand, suite, skybox, and hospitality tickets went on sale in a second window beginning March 24. Further ticket windows will occur later this year.

With so much hype around the Las Vegas Grand Prix, including Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner proclaiming the event will be “the biggest sporting event on the globe this year” and “anybody who is anyone will be at that weekend,” the pressure falls on Wilm, Prazer and Co. to deliver and then some.

“It’s more the pressure of delivering what we’ve sold more than anything,” Prazer said. “We’ve sold the dream and now it’s about actually showing people what we put together.

“This is going to be truly an entertainment spectacle. How do you bring Formula 1 and Las Vegas together to deliver the biggest and best event in the world? Yes, there’s the racing side of it but there’s everything else that we’re producing which I think is what’s going to blow people away when they see cars going down The Strip and the programming all around it. It’s going to be like nothing anyone’s seen in Formula 1.”

Despite being a male-dominated sport and industry, Wilm and Prazer said that being two women leading the charge in Las Vegas is a benefit. At the same time, they aren’t putting any extra pressure on themselves.

“I’m used to being the only woman in the room,” Wilm said. “It’s been that way my entire career. Now I’m not the only one, which is nice because I have Emily.”

Wilm and Prazer aren’t the only women in charge of a Formula 1 race. Ariane Franck-Meulenbelt has been the promoter of the Hungarian Grand Prix for over two decades, following in her father Tamas’s footsteps.

“I talk to her all the time,” Prazer said. “She’s amazing. She also owns her own ticket business, so as we were looking at our ticket strategy and ensuring we attract the international audience outside of the U.S., she’s been incredibly helpful.”

Franck-Meulenbelt isn’t the only outside voice lending expertise and insight as Wilm and Prazer build the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

They’re also looking at the successes in Miami, which welcomed more than 240,000 fans to the city last May, as well as the Singapore Grand Prix for ideas, successes and failures on anything and everything during race weekend including ticketing, hospitality, points of egress, and food and beverage.

With construction, including a permanent, four-story, 300,000-square-foot paddock very much “on schedule” according to Wilm, contradicting some reports claiming it was lagging behind, expectations remain high. Still, Wilm and Prazer understand everything won’t be perfect in Year 1.

“I think there’s no perfect in life,” Wilm said. “What we want to do is achieve the best fan experience that we can and have people dying to come back for Year 2. … Going forward, we are going to look to add new inventory, create new talent experiences, new activations, and reinvent ourselves year over year. We’ll continue to do that which went well and maybe that which didn’t go as well as we would have liked, we’ll look to fix in following years.”

And like the false report about construction being behind schedule, Wilm and Prazer said the Las Vegas Grand Prix isn’t competing with any of the other 23 other grand prix on the 2023 Formula 1 calendar, but is working hand in hand to further drive the sport and property to new heights.

“A rising tide raises all boats,” Wilm said. “We want to elevate the sport and benefit the other promoters through what we’re doing here. … We are all working together to make this sport an even more incredible opportunity for the ecosystem. It’s not a matter of competition, it’s a matter of enhancement.”

NOTE: First appeared on Boardroom


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