Lewis Hamilton has made a name for himself worldwide as Formula One’s most successful driver, putting a diverse face on the sport of racing.
However, the crown jewel of media markets, America, has always been a late bloomer in acceptance of the sport despite its international acclaim. But according to Hamilton, Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix in Austin was a watershed moment for the sport in the United States.
Unbelievable finish in Austin, great racing today🙌 And obviously, important win for Max!💪🟠🟠 @Max33Verstappen @LewisHamilton @redbullracing @MercedesAMGF1 #AustinGP pic.twitter.com/l9NytiGH9q
— BEN (@FSVBEN) October 24, 2021
“I think its really important that Formula One goes to the States,” said Hamilton during a Formula One promo video. “It’s obviously one of the biggest countries and most powerful countries and has such a great following for sports.
“Its crucial that we have at least one Grand Prix; I think we need more than one. The more we expose them to it, the more people will follow.”
Hamilton came in second at the Circuit of The Americas. The venue is a premier destination for world-class motorsports and entertainment set on 1,500 acres in the rolling hills outside of the Texas capital.
The Circuit of The Americas is elevating Formula One and racing in general in the U.S. Since opening in 2012, the venue has hosted the top personalities in racing and action sports.
📷 IG | "Big love to you Austin 💜 Love being here in the States🇺🇸 Never ceases to amaze me that wherever I go there are people who support me, the team, and our work. Where are you watching from today?" – @LewisHamilton pic.twitter.com/qoQN4XKMPV
— Sir Lewis Hamilton Updates (@SirLewisUpdates) October 24, 2021
The 3.41-mile racetrack hosted a crowd of 140,000. How important is that? Significant, as it surpassed the 135,000 who attended the Indianapolis 500 in May.
The last Indy 500 was the most prominent sports event in America since the pandemic began.
“It feels like this is our acceptance into the U.S.,” said Hamilton after the race to Reuters. “I hope we get more races out here, and I hope that the sport continues to grow because you can tell just how great the fans are out here.”
Hamilton has become a superstar in America. He recently made waves at the Met Gala when he raised awareness of Black designers who don’t get highlighted on fashion’s most fabulous night.
📷 IG I "Downtime fun — Austin ready🤠🇺🇲" – @LewisHamilton pic.twitter.com/yY8BNV729U
— Sir Lewis Hamilton Updates (@SirLewisUpdates) October 20, 2021
The Formula One racer bought an entire table for four Black designers to experience the international event.
“I’ve brought four incredible, young, Black talented designers,” Hamilton said to Keke Palmer at the event for VOGUE. “So we’ve got a great host of people tonight and it’s about just highlighting beauty and excellence and talent.”
There will be two U.S. rounds next year for Formula One as it makes a strategic debut in the athletic paradise of Miami. The tourist trap is a perfect match for a place known for nontraditional sports like watersports, Jai Alai, and racing.
Hamilton is the best ambassador to usher in the sport for the American audience. He has the charisma, youth, and appeal for the cross-sectionality of a pop culture audience.
Traditionally, NASCAR has done well for America by tapping into the family format. The races are geared toward the heartland and Southern audiences, but they are full-fledged comprehensive events that integrate music.
Hamilton is safe and has assumed the position of a leader in the sport and culture. As Formula One continues to integrate the American psyche, it will need more Lewis Hamilton, family friendliness, and tourist traps to grow on the soil.