Dolphins announce new Formula One track and schedule as residents fight race plans

Article Courtesy of  The Miami Herald

By Douglas Hanks

Published January 23, 2020


Hoping to defuse a fight to kill Formula 1’s arrival at Hard Rock Stadium, the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday unveiled a new track design and schedule for the auto race that would drop a county roadway from the route and avoid overlap with local school times.

A day before county commissioners are set to consider anti-F1 legislation, the Dolphins’ press office released the new rendering of the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix race scheduled to arrive in May 2021 and return each year after that.

Residents opposing the event call it a nuisance, bringing excessive noise and air pollution to a city that’s already regularly exposed to the disruption that comes with an NFL stadium that’s increasingly adding events to its calendar, such as April’s two-week Miami Open tennis tournament. The Dolphins, joined by the administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez, reject claims of health concerns related to F1 cars’ exhaust and engine noise and call the race a welcome boon to the local economy.

“The Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix is another example of a world-class event coming to our region,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement announcing the race changes.

The revised course drops Northwest 199th Street from the race layout, eliminating the need to close the public road for the event. A Dolphins spokesman said dropping 199th Street from the course means no public roads would be used for the race, and regular traffic would flow around the stadium in the same way it does for NFL games and concerts.

The announcement also said Formula One would delay practice races the Friday before the main event “in order to ensure that there isn’t any disruption to local schools.”

The Miami Dolphins are trying to bring a Formula 1 race to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, but residents are fighting the plan. On Tuesday, Jan. 21, the Dolphins announced a new design of the track that avoids the use of public roads in an effort to address residents’ concerns. A leading resident group said it will continue to fight the race.

Combined, the announcement represents the first significant retreat from the original “F1” plans since Dolphins owner Stephen Ross backed off his original effort to run the race in downtown Miami this year. While the stadium’s customized zoning rules allow for running auto races there, a county ordinance up for a final vote Wednesday would subject those races to city approval. The Dolphins could appeal a rejection by Miami Gardens to the County Commission.

“Don’t bring the race into our bedroom community,” sponsor Barbara Jordan, the county commissioner representing Miami Gardens, told a town hall last week. “We don’t want it.”

Jordan did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Sam Dubbin, a lawyer representing homeowners associations surrounding the stadium, called the announcement “very unfortunate gamesmanship” that “does nothing to address the most serious impact of the race.” He pointed to concerns about hearing damage for children and the elderly living nearby.

Karen Hunter Jackson, a Miami Gardens resident helping organize opposition to the race, said Tuesday the changes would not end community efforts to block the event.

Dropping “199th Street is irrelevant. It’s the entire area that will suffer,” she said. “As long as it’s in our community where there are homes and people, it’s a problem.”