Down at the other end of the complex (you can get there via gondola) is a region called The Beach, where a trio of lower-speed turns allowed for fans to get a slightly longer glimpse of their favorite cars and drivers. There are grandstands at The Beach. Several city blocks’ worth of cabanas. As well as the Red Bull Energy Center, one of many exclusive complexes—among them the Ferrari Club, the Silver Arrows Miami Club, the Crypto.com Terrace, the McLaren Race House, and et cetera—filled with Friends of The Brand. The Energy Center provides FOTBs a nice hub from which to watch the action, drink any flavor of Red Bull under the sun (and even some only Willy Wonka has dreamed up), and cheer extra loudly when Red Bull’s drivers, the 24-year-old Dutch defending F1 World Champion, Max Verstappen, and his Mexican teammate, Sergio “Checo” Pérez, streaked by. Word among those who’ve been everywhere is that this venue is a little difficult on viewers, given that the track (via Floridian geological history) is so flat and the stadium so prominent that sightlines are often limited to one small snatch of track. The hospitality centers, then, provide some useful shade, some useful altitude, and some readily adopted sporting allegiances. Everywhere one went, there was music—constant, constant music. In Abu Dhabi, I met a DJ who traveled with the F1 circus, as an in-house music provider of various needs. I thought of him as I stood transfixed for what felt like an hour Friday afternoon watching the DJ at the Energy Station sing over a reggaeton remix of a James Taylor song. For my delirium and his, I blame too much direct sun.
All weekend, when the sun went down, dozens if not hundreds of bars, restaurants, clubs, hotels, and pop-ups in Miami competed for the attention of fans. This is common on an F1 racing weekend, but as with most things, it felt juiced on South Beach. Perhaps the most coveted off-track experience was the $3000-a-head dinner at American Express Carbone Beach, the latest outpost for the Major Food Group experience. In late March, Major Food Group’s Jeff Zalazick met with an agency to launch a last-minute event. Six weeks later, they’d built an entire restaurant on the beach at 18th Street, where the aim was nothing short of “the best dinner party you’ve ever seen,” an organizer told me. Not modern South Beach schlock but sixties rat-pack red-sauce glamor, in the mode of the original Carbone. On Saturday night, I came by for a look. Cocktail hour featured piano instrumentals over hip-hop beats—think the Succession theme song, which was indeed performed at one point. Caviar was kept cold by a two-and-a-half ton ice sculpture. There was a real waft of Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby all about. Taking in the decadence from the foot of the performance stage, I told chef Mario Carbone it looked like a wedding reception on steroids. “Yeah, we do birthday parties and bar mitzvahs now, too,” he joked. “You can’t just rent most of this stuff, so I own, like, 24 chandeliers now.” Each night was different—Andrea Boccelli making people weep into their Caesar salad on Thursday; Wyclef Jean turning the energy all the way in the other direction Friday night. It was—at least when one accounts for the presence of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, David Beckham, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Spike Lee, Patrick Mahomes, Derek Jeter, Michael Bay, Kygo, The Wolf of Wall Street (now The Wolf of South Beach), and the Mayor of Miami—obviously the place to be. When I asked someone how, with dozens and dozens of establishments in Miami doing all they could to be The Place To Be for the weekend, the pop-up was able to assert itself as top dog, I received a shrug: “It’s Carbone.”