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Deal struck in high-stakes legal battle over Formula One Las Vegas race

Updated July 29, 2022 - 10:14 am

A bitter legal fight over rights to promote a Formula One race in Las Vegas has been settled, boosting efforts to bring the worldwide racing circuit to the entertainment capital of the world.

The litigation between Formula One and Miami tech entrepreneur Farid Shidfar heated up in April, following the public announcement of the Las Vegas Grand Prix in 2023, after a decades-long absence.

Formula One, its owner Liberty Media Corporation and Shidfar issued a news release late Thursday announcing the agreement with Shidfar’s company P2M Motorsports. The details of the settlement are confidential.

“We are pleased to move past this matter so that we may focus our local efforts exclusively on creating a marquee event for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix in November 2023,” said Stefano Domenicali, president and chief executive officer of Formula One.

Shidfar and his partners in P2M Motorsports, former Las Vegas Assemblyman Chad Christensen and Russell Dixon, also issued a statement.

“Our hope from the outset was to see Formula 1 race the Las Vegas Strip,” they said. “We are pleased to see the realization of this event. P2M extends its best wishes now to Formula 1, Liberty Media and all members of this racing community as it embarks on what we believe will be a flagship of Formula 1 racing.”

Both sides filed a stipulation to dismiss the case and pay their own court costs and legal fees. It will have to be approved by Clark County District Judge Mark Denton.

Shidfar told the Review-Journal in April that he and Christensen spent 11 years paving the way for the announcement but were getting no credit from Colorado-based Liberty Media for their efforts.

“We did everything in our power to make this happen,” said Shidfar, who as a consultant helped shape The Cosmopolitan resort brand when it opened in 2010. “There is no question that we are the driving force behind the event. We spent a significant amount of time and resources to put it together.”

Shidfar worked for years in Los Angeles for the global consulting firm Accenture, helping Disney, MGM, Sony Pictures, Hilton Hotels and other companies improve their business strategies.

Formula One and Liberty Media, which also owns the Atlanta Braves, Sirius XM and Live Nation Entertainment, had filed suit against P2M Motorsports in 2021 in Clark County District Court. P2M Motorsports countersued.

Liberty lawyers alleged in their complaint that P2M Motorsports made “extortionate demands” for millions of dollars from Formula One and interfered with the sport’s dealings with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and R & R Partners, the convention authority’s longtime marketing firm.

P2M persuaded the LVCVA and R & R to sign confidential nondisclosure agreements in 2017 that prevented them from discussing strategic plans for the race with other parties, including Formula One, without P2M’s permission, according to the Liberty lawyers.

Both the convention authority and R & R Partners filed court papers last year seeking to intervene in Liberty’s lawsuit and get a court order invalidating the nondisclosure agreements. Thursday’s news release said the LVCVA and R & R agreed to the settlement.

Shidfar in April denied that he made any unreasonable demands on Formula One and tried to put up legal roadblocks to a Grand Prix in Las Vegas.

“I’ve done nothing more than simply protect our intellectual property, which they are now using,” he told the Review-Journal. “They’re forcing us into litigation, rather than working with us on a path forward. That’s much less costly than remunerating us for the effort we put in.”

Formula One holds annual races for high-powered, open-wheeled cars in nearly two-dozen countries such as Monaco, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Australia, France and Italy. Miami hosted a Grand Prix in May.

In Las Vegas, cars are scheduled to roar past neon-lit, iconic resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard between Spring Mountain Road and Harmon Avenue, with a portion spilling over to Koval Lane east of the famed Strip.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter. German is a member of the Review-Journal’s investigative team, focusing on reporting that holds leaders and agencies accountable and exposes wrongdoing.

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