Jonathan Noble

Why Miami GP is having the last laugh over fake marina memes

The collection of 10 yachts on the inside of Turns 6, 7 and 8 of the Miami circuit, which are surrounded by special solid ‘vinyl’ water, have prompted a flood of photoshopped images and videos.

One edited Twitter video, of a man appearing to jump into the water only to bounce off the solid surface, went viral and has now attracted more than three million views.

 

The opinion from fans over what Miami has done has, unsurprisingly, been divided.

Some have embraced the uniqueness of it, as the track has tried to offer something completely different, others have been more scathing about the lunacy of the extravagance of it all on a weekend when ticket prices have clearly been aimed at top dollar buyers.

But for Miami GP managing partner Tom Garfinkel, who is vice chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium, fans poking fun at what the track has done with the marina is not a worry at all.

First, he quite likes the fact that it means everyone is talking about the Miami GP. But, more importantly, he sees no downside to the race having a bit of a laugh and being able to offer something so unique.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Garfinkel said: “I think we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re having some fun with it, right?

“I think people are enjoying it. I think the people on the back of those yachts watching the race will have fun, and I think the people that are sort of poking fun at it, I think it’s funny, and it’s great.

“We’re not taking ourselves too seriously. We’re trying to have some fun with it.”

Marina atmosphere

Photo by: Jon Noble

Garfinkel says the idea of the marina at the stadium came about after the plans for the original Miami GP in the city – and the real marina – fell through.

“Initially, when we were looking at downtown, F1 had some ideas about wanting the shots of the yachts,” he explained.

“When we moved here [to the Hard Rock stadium] for a number of reasons, most importantly because we didn’t think we could have a good racing circuit downtown, I told F1 that you’re gonna get your yacht shots, you’re gonna have your yachts.

“They looked at me like I was crazy. And then I came back and drew it on the whiteboard and said: ‘I want a marina with yachts here, and we’re gonna make it happen.’ And so we did. And it’s a lot of fun.”

What’s important to understand is that the fake marina yachts are not some irrelevant piece of trackside furniture aimed solely at making the circuit look better on television.

Instead, they are a focal point for a boulevard of entertainment stands that form a concourse for fans. The marina sits alongside a trackside multi-storey yacht club with bars and restaurants, and is also surrounded by a fake beach with deck chairs, games and loungers.

So while around 400 guests will be lucky enough to be able to spend the race weekend on the yachts themselves, the whole area around it will be surrounded by thousands of partying guests soaking up the sunshine and what’s on offer.

Marina atmosphere

Marina atmosphere

Photo by: Jon Noble

Sorting out the fake marina was no easy feat for Miami, with the process of sourcing the yachts and getting them into the circuit taking 10 months.

With permits only allowing the yachts to be transported at night, and the track needing to put special floors down over the circuit so the track surface wasn’t damaged when they were driven in, the largest yacht took five hours to get from the Miami marina to be in place at the track.

While the effort may seem extreme, it fits very much in with the vibe of Miami, which doesn’t do things by halves.

But, beyond everything else, Garfinkel is absolutely clear on one thing. Doing something like the marina, or the Hard Rock Beach Club with ‘real’ sand at the other end of the circuit, could never be justified if they were situated alongside a track that didn’t offer up any potential for great racing.

It is why, with the circuit having drawn some rave reviews from drivers and looking like it could deliver a good spectacle, he thinks it only right Miami went the extra mile to ensure there was something special to surround it.

And judging by the sell-out crowd, who rushed to get tickets despite them being set at premium prices, the efforts seem worth it.

“First and foremost, the first priority was creating a great circuit for racing,” he said. “So we really believe that if it’s a circuit that drivers want to drive on, and teams want to come race on, then it’d be great for fans. So that was the first priority.

An advertising board on the water

An advertising board on the water

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

“Then after that, why not make it Miami? Why not bring a part of the culture of Miami out here to create great experiences for fans?

“If it’s a proper circuit for racing, first and foremost, then we can move on from that and do other things to make it great. So that’s really what we’re trying to accomplish.”

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Asked if he ever expected the marina to have such a social media buzz around it, Garfinkel is quick in his response.

“I didn’t know if that would be the thing, or the beach club would be the thing with its actual sand, or the podium itself,” he replied.

“But as long as people say we created a great race circuit for great racing first, and people came here and had a great time, then the rest of it, we can have some fun with it.”

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