How Hard Rock Has Made Miami’s Inaugural F1 Race Unforgettable

F1 Miami HardrockPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Hard Rock International, Seminole Gaming

Keith Sheldon, the President Of Entertainment For Hard Rock International, Seminole Gaming, is at the helm of a massive empire in the entertainment industry. And, for Miami’s first-ever — and highly-anticipated — F1 Grand Prix, he has curated a star-studded performance lineup, from Post Malone and Maluma to Zedd and Test. Haute Living sits down with Sheldon — the man making the magic happen behind the scenes — to find out how Hard Rock has curated a one-of-a-kind F1 experience and what to expect this weekend and future F1 races in Miami.

HAUTE LIVING: F1 in Miami this weekend is set to be one of the biggest weekends for the city, next to Art Basel. How long have you been planning, and what were important factors for you from the start?
KEITH SHELDON: Obviously, Mr. Ross, Tom Garfunkel, and the entire Dolphins organization have been involved in securing talent for this event, and we commend their vision and sincerely appreciate the amazing partnership we have with them. Our Miami Grand Prix partnership will certainly be projected at a global scale, much like Art Basel or the Super Bowl, if not even bigger. At Hard Rock, we have been planning around the clock for quite some time now to ensure everything is perfect and executed with the highest quality in hospitality as our guests have come to expect. It’s a huge cultural milestone, fusing sports with entertainment and more, with the potential to champion the city of Miami and create a lasting legacy. It is like hosting the Super Bowl every year — it’s got that kind of power.  

Just like Art Basel, we have to ask ourselves, “What is the best way to make a statement in a crowded event with so much going on?” For F1, we want to cut through the noise and be the soundtrack for the weekend. We accomplished that with the star-studded lineup we have performances literally trackside throughout the entire race weekend. Hard Rock’s integration into these incredible pop culture moments helps to continuously drive our brand forward in all the right ways.

HL: As the inaugural race, kicking off the 10-year partnership. How do you think this will impact the city?
KS: Formula 1 is one of the biggest global sports in the world, with the power to choose anywhere they want to be, so it is an incredible opportunity and a privilege for Hard Rock to host in our hometown and give back to the Florida community that has long supported our brand. We couldn’t be happier to be a part of the inaugural Miami Grand Prix and Formula 1’s growing footprint within the US while providing greater value to guests around the world. Our goal is to help make our Grand Prix one of the pinnacle races of the Formula 1 series, with Hard Rock at the center of it all.

HL: How has Hard Rock made this a one-a-of-a-kind experience? 
KS: We fully anticipate the experience of all the Hard Rock activations to be like nothing our guests have ever seen before, in the best way possible. We’re bringing to life dozens of one-of-a-kind experiences, whether it’s A-list performances at The Hard Rock Beach Club or adding limited edition items to our iconic Hard Rock merchandise collection. The whole world will be watching the F1 Miami Grand Prix, so it is incredibly humbling that Hard Rock will be associated with the spirit of winning during such a thrilling event. The Hard Rock Beach Club is going to bring a unique luxury experience not just for our guests but for everyone in attendance at the Miami Grand Prix. The Beach Club will be a landmark feature of the campus and give guests a uniquely Hard Rock experience with a South Florida vibe to enjoy all of the racing action, including a nearly 24,000 square-foot beach, resort-style pools, and two levels of cabanas. Adding in the A-list performances, the Hard Rock Beach Club is certainly a hot ticket item for the weekend, and people are very excited about it – rightfully so. Whether catching the races live at the track or experiencing Formula 1 from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, there will be no shortage of entertainment and excitement all weekend long.

F1 Miami HardrockPhoto Credit: Courtesy of Hard Rock International, Seminole Gaming

HL: Why were major headliners so important for the Hard Rock Beach Club?
KS: We knew we had to live up to the moment, so we wanted to bring in A-list artists, diversified content, experiences, and performers that you do not see at other Formula 1 races. Post Malone, Maluma, Chainsmokers, Tiesto, and Zedd are huge, globally recognized, culturally relevant artists, so it made perfect sense to have them as some of our big performers to several other amazing acts throughout the weekend. Additionally, we wanted to infuse other emerging superstar artists like BLXST.

HL: Can you walk us through the process of securing talent?
KS: At the end of the day, we’re in the relationship business first and foremost. We try to cultivate relationships, treat artists and their teams well, and over-deliver at every opportunity. I’m a strong believer that doing right by the artists and the folks on the opposite side of the negotiating table can ultimately culminate in partnerships that last well beyond that single show you’re trying to book. Whether we’re talking about any marquee names or other performers during the F1 Miami Grand Prix weekend — each of those bookings tapped into long-term relationships in each one of those artist camps that resulted in them taking a leap of faith with Hard Rock. We know that a successful event where we exceed expectations will act as a flywheel to generate more goodwill with those specific artists and open up more doors with others.  

HL: Are you already working on next year’s race? Anything you can disclose?
KS: Nothing is confirmed at this point in time, but I will say this — the amount of interest that the Miami Grand Prix has garnered from the music community has been completely unprecedented; we already have been in conversation with major headliners for next year and sharing meaningful ideas and already looking for ways to amplify this massive moment in culture. We are thrilled about being a part of something so special with Formula 1, Miami Grand Prix, and our partners at the Dolphins organization.