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We went to that race. The settings were far from dramatic, taking place in a parking lot, but the Caesers Palace Grand Prix in Las Vegas settled the 1981 Formula One season in favor of Nelson Piquet (his first World Championship) in a Brabham BT49C-Cosworth.
It was one of the few times an F1-sanctioned World Championship GP has not used the host country’s name, because the season started in Long Beach. The course was surprisingly well-designed but the late-fall desert heat was terrible. Piquet nearly passed out and needed time before accepting his trophy.
Many a Formula One season had come down to a dramatic climax at the final race of the season, most of which took place at Mexico City, Watkins Glen, or even the odd one at Fuji. In 1981, the names of the three title contenders were familiar — Nelson Piquet, Carlos Reutemann and Jacques Laffite — but the location wasn’t: Caesars Palace car park.
Alan Jones leads Gilles Villeneuve into the first corner of the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix, held in the casino’s parking lot. Actually a tremendously exciting, championship-deciding race, won by Nelson Piquet.
The race continued in the 1982 season, when Kiki Rosberg clinched his first and only F1 World Championship,