Formula One is making big changes to the Las Vegas Strip for its first-ever Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled to take place from November 16th to 18th. However, these changes are not only happening on the surface but also beneath it.
In the 1980s, miles of flood channels were constructed beneath Las Vegas. These channels serve the purpose of ushering stormwater from the mountains west of the city to Lake Mead. However, during dry periods, these bone-dry tunnels have become a refuge for around 1,000 unhoused individuals seeking shelter from the hot sun and a sense of security.
The upcoming F1 event has prompted the posting of signs announcing a “Tunnel Clean Out for Formula 1.” These signs warn that the tunnels will be cleared of any human presence on November 15th, and will be inaccessible until November 20th.
These signs were brought to the public’s attention by YouTuber Sarah Jane Woodall in a video for her “Wonderhussy Adventures” channel. The signs, located at the entrance to the most densely populated section of the tunnel, have raised concerns about the displacement of the tunnel residents.
Woodall expressed confusion about how the presence of the tunnel residents could disrupt a Formula 1 race, suggesting that the noise of the race cars would likely disrupt those trying to sleep in the tunnels instead. She also questioned the practicality of expecting homeless individuals, with all their possessions in a shopping cart, to travel miles to the nearest homeless shelter listed on the F1’s sign.
An attempt to obtain further information from the F1 press office and the Shine a Light Foundation, a nonprofit founded to assist the tunnel population, has been unsuccessful.
The upcoming Grand Prix has raised questions about what will happen to the unhoused population in the tunnels during the event, with concerns being raised about their displacement and access to necessary services.