Behind the scenes at the F1 Miami Grand Prix

Behind the scenes at the F1 Miami GP with Jacco van der Voort and Alex Kistler

From 6-8 May 2022, the inaugural Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix took place at the Miami International Autodrome, set in the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, home to the NFL’s famous Miami Dolphins franchise. The Florida race joined its Texan counterpart (Austin) to become the second US event on the calendar this year and Miami became the 11th American venue to host a round of the F1 World championship. With Technical Producer Jacco van der Voort, we look back on what it took to design and produce the unique and eye-catching Ceremony stage for this race. And together with Site Operations Manager Alex Kistler, we talk about leading the Site Operations of the Miami GP.

Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix 2022 debut

The Miami International Autodrome is a temporary circuit but was designed to have a permanent feel. The track is the culmination of a development process that simulated no less than 36 different layouts before settling on a thrilling, 19 turn lap that provided a complete circuit street vibe. With the Hard Rock Stadium at its epicentre, this 5.41km track was made with a whopping 48 million pounds of asphalt! The inside of turns 6, 7 and 8 even had a 25,000 square feet simulated marina complete with mega-yachts, designed to replicate the feel and spirit of Miami. The festivities of the “new kid on the F1 block” started on Wednesday May 4th with an opening party featuring Kygo & F1 stars presented by Heineken- the perfect kick-start to F1’s Miami Grand Prix. In the following days there were performances by leading acts like Maluma, Post Malone, The Chainsmokers, Tiësto and Zedd.

Team Backbone and the Miami GP

Backbone International was assigned different responsibilities at the Miami GP 2022 and started working on this event already in December 2021. The onsite production period was from April 22- May 15 2022. 

A "street" race

In 2021 the organizers of the Miami GP approached Backbone and asked us to develop the ceremony stage for the race. As per Jacco, “We partnered up with TWOFIFTYK for the creative design while we handled the technical design. Along with StageCo USA, we constructed a solid podium which we partly built over various street furniture. Think of trees, fencing, trashcans, benches, concrete slabs, lamp posts etc. One of the challenges we faced was integrating the stadium’s existing LED screen into the design. Eventually the ceremony stage ended up being 12 meters high, 34 meters wide and colored in the iconic Miami blue. The shape of the podium was derived from the F1 logo. It was a tough process to get it done, especially during a pandemic. We had to remotely produce the stage within the set budget while keeping all the various stakeholders happy, but along with Brok Décor, we eventually managed to succeed and bring TWOFIFTYK’s creative design & décor into reality. For all of us, the highlight was when the drivers were honored on the podium and millions of people worldwide watched the ceremony. This made all the challenging work, sleepless nights, and innumerable efforts worth it.” 

Operating with Precision

Next to being responsible for the whole ceremony stage, we were entrusted with overseeing the overall Site Operations. This entailed timely coordination with multiple site asset suppliers like tenting, fencing, power, water & sanitation, flooring, containers and the quartermaster. Alex Kistler “My role was specifically overseeing all heavy equipment on site for the duration of the build and teardown. As you can imagine for an event of this size and prestige there are lots of moving parts and teams involved to create a successful experience for the race fans and teams alike. We embraced the challenge and created unity between different departments. At Backbone we always do our utmost to work and operate with detailed precision, and this can only be achieved with proper advanced planning, meetings, discussions and to follow through. For the Miami GP the team worked very closely with South Florida Motorsports, the FIA and individual race teams to ensure operations ran smoothly and efficiently. I am very proud of the work we did and look forward to the many years to come to continue to improve this monumental event. The 2022 Grand Prix was just the beginning. ” 

Success is best when it is Shared

“Everyone at Backbone International believes that success is best when it is shared. We commission trustworthy crew and delegate responsibility because we believe everyone comes with their set of skills. We are grateful to the organizers of the F1 Miami Grand Prix to have given us a chance to contribute to this landmark race. To work on an inaugural project of this scale, with so much limelight and attention, multiple stakeholders and with an ongoing pandemic is really not easy. But we took things one day at a time and did what we do best: plan & produce. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going!” Jacco and Alex conclude.

Official event photo credits: Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix & F1

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