Véhicule Magazine Presents: IMSA GP of Miami 1983
In 1983, Miami came one step closer to becoming the United States' very own Monaco. It was nearly there—the waterfront, the climate and the wealth all measured up, but an equivalent of the European microstate's famed motor race was missing. Ralph Sanchez, the Cuban-American racing promoter active in South Florida, brought racecars to Miami's streets with the inaugural Grand Prix of Miami. Teams part of the IMSA GT Championship descended on a nearly two-mile road course fashioned from repurposed sections of Bayfront Park and Biscayne Boulevard. That race was largely considered a bust, with a rainstorm sealing the event's fate. Undeterred, the race was held the following year and its fate was reversed—it was success. The 1985 race on the same circuit fared just as well.
1986 brought a new course for the IMSA racers, this time in Bicentennial Park. This road course was more purposefully planned than the last one, with new roads in the park funneling cars onto Biscayne Boulevard by the Port of Miami. This lasted until 1993, falling victim to IMSA's own internal woes.
1994 and 1995 saw races as part of the SCCA Trans-Am Series and CART, both at the Bicentennial Park course. Both were short-lived in Miami, lasting only one year each.
The American Le Mans Series and Champ Car Series raced together on a new Bayfront Park circuit in 2002 and 2003, as the Bicentennial Park course was demolished to make way for the American Airlines Arena. For the first of these two years, the 1.3-mile course comprised park roads, Biscayne Boulevard, 3rd Street and 4th Street. The following year's course dropped 3rd and 4th, instead including a longer stretch of Biscayne.