Ahead of the first official Las Vegas Grand Prix, we take a look at some of the stars who took part in F1’s last attempt at racing in Sin City.
With F1 dabbling with several race venues in an attempt to generate American interest in the sport, the Caesars Palace Grand Prix was created and ran in 1981 and 1982.
The event was canned after 1982 due to low popularity, but, with US audiences bigger than ever, F1’s return to Las Vegas is one of the most anticipated events of the year. A host of motorsport legends were on the grid when the last race in Las Vegas got underway, here’s what happened to some of the biggest names of the time.
The Italian claimed his first of five F1 victories at the final Caesars Palace race for the sport, and it turned out to be the penultimate race win for the Tyrrell team. Alboreto went on to race for Ferrari, and claimed a best championship position of runner up to Alain Prost in 1985.
After Ferrari, he drove for a variety of teams, including Larrousse, Footwork Arrows, Lola and Minardi before leaving F1 at the end of 1994. He continued to race in a variety of motorsports, including sports cars, touring cars and endurance racing, and claimed victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997 with Porsche.
However, still racing at the age of 44, Alboreto was killed during a testing crash whilst driving the Audi R8 Le Mans car in April 2001.
After a poor start, Watson recovered to second place in one of his most impressive seasons in F1, despite losing out on World Championship glory at the final hurdle. Finishing third in the championship that season for McLaren, the Northern Irishman went on to secure one final remarkable victory from 22nd on the grid at the US Grand Prix West in 1983.
His post-F1 career included racing sports cars, and a string of retirements at various Le Mans 24 Hour races. However, he became better known for expertise as a pundit and in the commentary box for a variety of racing series, including F1.
A talented racer who unfortunately never managed to reach the top step of an F1 podium, Cheever took his third podium of the season after a late pass on Alain Prost. He would take a further six podiums (nine in total) in a career that saw him race for Theodore, Hesketh, Osella, Tyrrell, Ligier, Renault, Benetton, Haas Lola and Arrows in a nomadic F1 career.
He returned to racing in the United States in 1990, and had greater success. After several years in CART, he switched to IndyCar and achieved the ultimate prize with an Indy 500 win in 1998, racing for his own team, Cheever Racing, which ran until the mid-noughties. He became a semi-frequent pundit and commentator, dabbled in the Race of Champions and Grand Prix Masters, and has a racing driver son, Eddie Cheever III, who competes in GT car racing.
The French F1 legend had taken pole position for Renault in the last Las Vegas event, but fell back during the race to fourth. Prost went on to become a four-time World Champion (1985, 1986, 1989, 1993), and one of the most decorated F1 drivers of all time.
After F1, he dabbled with team ownership (Prost Grand Prix), joined forces with DAMS to form the e.dams Formula E team, and undertook various ambassadorial and advisor roles. His most recent role as team advisor to the Renault (and Alpine) team ended in 2022 and he now occasionally shares opinions and expertise to the media.
In one of the most hotly-contested seasons in F1 history, Rosberg’s fifth place was enough to seal championship glory with the Williams team. A proper championship challenge never materialised again, and he had three more seasons with Williams (taking four wins, including the Monaco GP) and one season with McLaren before leaving F1 after the 1986 season.
After F1, Rosberg raced in the German DTM series in the nineties – eventually racing for his own outfit Team Rosberg, which still exists today – along with stints in the World Sportscar Championship. Outside of racing, he predominantly focused on driver management, notably for JJ Lehto, Mika Hakkinen and his son Nico Rosberg. These days, he’s also available for hire as a speaker for functions and motorsport events.
After a midseason promotion to Williams, Daly took part in his final F1 race at Caesars Palace, and held onto sixth place to claim the final championship point.
He switched to the CART series in the US and, whilst his career showed promise, a huge crash at the 1984 Michigan International Speedway caused life-threatening injuries which required a lengthy recovery time. He returned full-time in 1987 and earned one podium and numerous points finishes in a several year stint.
Race wins only came when he switched to IMSA sports car racing in the early nineties, and he was victorious at the 12 Hours of Sebring. After racing, he has had several business interests, including MotorVation, became an author of motorsport inspiration and business books, a motorsport pundit and an event speaker. His son is long-time IndyCar driver Conor Daly.
The Swiss racer missed out on the points at the final Caesars Palace race, which would become a common theme across his F1 career in mostly midfield-to-lower grid cars. He became a key figure for the Arrows team, and also raced for Brabham, scoring numerous points finishes. A rallying crash which claimed the life of his co-driver prompted his retirement partway through the 1986 season.
Having held a long association with BMW since his junior career, Surer continued with the marque after he left F1, and headed their touring car efforts in the mid-nineties, and became a driver instructor. He’s also an esteemed pundit and commentator in Switzerland and Germany.
Andrea de Cesaris
A driver who retired from races more often than he finished, de Cesaris actually finished the season finale, driving his Alfa Romeo to ninth place. His chaotic career saw him also drive for McLaren, Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial, Scuderia Italia, Jordan, Tyrrell and Sauber. In mostly-uncompetitive machinery, he earned five podiums in 208 race starts before leaving F1 in 1994.
He mostly gave up motorsport after that, but was encouraged back into the cockpit for the Grand Prix Master series in 2005 and 2006. His business interests included currency trading, and he became a keen windsurfer. However, he passed away in 2014 following a motorbike crash in Rome at the age of 55.
At this point, Lauda was a two-time F1 champion, had retired in 1979, and was encouraged to return to the sport for the 1982 season. He retired from his only attempt at the Las Vegas event with engine issues, but would go on to take his third-and-final title in 1984 for McLaren.
As many will know, Lauda remained a prominent figure in F1 after his retirement from racing. He was an advisor to Ferrari in the nineties, took a team principal role at Jaguar, and became non-executive chairman at Mercedes. Outside of F1, he became an airline owner (with companies called ‘LaudaAir’ and ‘Niki’) and earned his pilot’s licence. He passed away in 2019 after a period of ill health at the age of 70.
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Rarely equipped with competitive F1 cars, Warwick’s frustrating second F1 season with the gradually-improving Toleman team ended with another DNF in Las Vegas. His best season results-wise came with Renault in 1984, but he rarely had the cars to match his talent, and the remainder of his career was littered with sporadic points finishes in midfield cars from Brabham, Arrows and Footwork.
Warwick became better-known for his achievements in sports cars, and won the World Sportscar Championship in 1992 with Peugeot, including taking victory at Le Mans that year.
He also made appearances at the Bathurst 1000, British Touring Car Championship and Porsche Supercup. He’s worked as a driver steward at F1 meetings, became president of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, and has several business interests, including his Honda garage and dealership in Jersey, and running motorsport team Triple Eight.
Elio de Angelis
The up-and-coming Italian racer had taken his first F1 race win at the Austrian GP just three races prior to the Las Vegas event, but retired partway through the season finale with engine issues. With the Lotus team gradually improving, he shone alongside Nigel Mansell in 1984, and, with Ayrton Senna as his teammate in 1985, took his second F1 win after Prost’s disqualification at the bizarre fuel-affected San Marino GP.
Tragically, de Angelis’ life was cut short by a crash during testing for Brabham at Paul Ricard in 1986.
The previous Las Vegas race turned out to be the final F1 race for 1978 champion Andretti, who drove his final two races for Ferrari in place of the seriously injured Didier Pironi. His final event ended in retirement, but his podium at the previous race at Monza helped Ferrari to the Constructors’ Championship.
Success continued after F1, and Andretti became the 1984 IndyCar champion, and came close to clinching a Le Mans victory in 1995. Outside of racing, he started his own winery, petroleum and racing school businesses, took on various ambassadorial roles, and put his name to karting tracks. More recently, he has helped generate hype about Andretti Autosport’s attempts to join F1, led by his son, Michael.
Having won his first F1 championship in 1981, Piquet endured a frustrating defence of his crown in 1982, summed up by his car limping into retirement at Caesars Palace. He would fight back in 1982, however, and took the 1983 title again with the Brabham team. Another title was secured with Williams in 1987, and he retired from F1 in 1991 after stints with Lotus and Benetton.
After retiring from F1, Piquet made attempts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indy 500 without success. In fact, his 1992 Indy 500 effort only resulted in leg injuries due to a practice crash. He also had sporadic sports car stints, but mostly concentrated on business ventures, including the creation of a GPS tracking system for commercial vehicles, and he actively managed the career of his son, Nelson Piquet Jr.
More recently, he made the news for receiving a big fine in Brazil for offensive comments to Lewis Hamilton.
Following his race win at Monza in the previous round, Arnoux earned a front row start at Caesars Palace and briefly led teammate Prost until car problems forced a retirement.
Nevertheless, he had a contract with Ferrari for 1983, which turned into one of his better seasons, taking three wins and finishing third in the championship. However, performances dropped and he was out of Ferrari by 1985. He had a four-year stint at Ligier before ending his F1 career in 1989.
After F1, Arnoux dabbled in Le Mans (taking third in class in 1994), GT racing, and the Grand Prix Masters series, but did not take part in many other mainstream racing series. He briefly became a driver coach, became a kart track owner, and co-founded the DAMS team in 1988. He also regularly makes appearances at the historical motorsport events, often driving the Renault cars from earlier in his career.
Having taken his first win at Monaco earlier in the year, Patrese ended the season with a clutch problem in the Las Vegas race. It wasn’t until the nineties when the talented Italian driver was handed genuine race-winning machinery at Williams, but he played second fiddle to Nigel Mansell. He took six grand prix wins and for a long time held the record for most F1 race appearances.
After F1, Patrese had a crack at Le Mans in 1997, and participated in various touring car races. He raced at the 24 Hours of Spa as recently as 2018. He turned to restaurant ownership in Italy, and he still occasionally gets behind the wheel of his old F1 cars, even completing demonstration laps in his Brabham BT52 car from 1983 at Goodwood earlier this year. He also supports the motorsport career of his son, Lorenzo.
At this stage in his career, Mansell had two podiums to his name, and was yet to taste victory in F1. Driving for Lotus, the Briton ended his second full season with a retirement after an early collision. Eventually winning races when he switched to Williams for 1985, Mansell took his only World Championship title during his second stint for the team in 1992.
A year out in IndyCar brought championship success in 1993, which was followed by a brief race-winning return to F1 in 1994. Since retiring from F1, Mansell made occasional race appearances, including a stint in British Touring Cars and a Le Mans 24 Hours attempt in 2010.
Outside of racing, his business interests have included car dealerships, golf course development and cycling team ownership. He also supported the motorsport careers of his sons, Greg and Leo. Mansell has also appeared as a driver steward at F1 races.
Experienced racer Laffite retired his Ligier car from the Caesars Palace GP after just five laps with technical troubles, and the Frenchman appeared to be in the downswing of his race-winning F1 career.
A two-year stint struggling against Keke Rosberg at Williams, he had a successful return to Ligier, where he took five more podiums. However, his F1 career ended when he crashed heavily at the start of the British GP, breaking both legs.
He did occasionally race in his post-F1 career, and raced in the World Touring Car Championship, DTM, GT3 European Championship, and raced in Le Mans an additional four times. He became a pundit, commentator and F1 expert, and became a fishing and golf enthusiast, which extended to becoming a golf club owner in Dijon.