Taylor Swift had barely belted out her final tune “Shake It Off” at Circuit of the Americas last October when Bobby Epstein began pondering what the track could do for an encore at the 2017 United States Grand Prix.
Justin Timberlake is a pretty good answer.
The 10-time Grammy Award winner has been booked to play Saturday, Oct. 21, the night before the Formula One race.
“We view it as another home run,” Epstein, the COTA chairman, said Wednesday. “Our immediate feedback is terrific. Actually, Justin probably crosses a wider range of age groups than Taylor simply because he’s been around longer.”
Last year, the Swift show drew a track-estimated crowd of 80,000, created a social-media buzz and received plenty of credit for COTA’s revival weekend. Crowd counts had trended downward since the first race in 2012, but last year produced a record weekend attendance listed at 269,889.
“These things are very difficult to put together,” said Epstein, who did not reveal contract terms. “We’ve been working on this since November. It helped that Taylor’s camp gave us the seal of approval.”
Three-day weekend passes, which include access to the concert, go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, starting at $159, if they are purchased before July 4. Single-day tickets will be available at a later date and a price to be determined.
In the past three years, COTA has booked Elton John, Usher, Swift and now Timberlake as it seeks an entertainment anchor for a festival-style race weekend. Liberty Media, F1’s new American owners, have expressed a strong desire for all tracks to do what COTA is, to give each race a Super Bowl-type feel.
Timberlake, the Memphis singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1990s as a lead vocalist for NSYNC, seemed like a natural fit.
“We’re looking for elite stars who are not touring … someone you’re not going to be able to see everywhere else,” Epstein said. “We want someone who appeals to the whole family. An act that can stand on its own and wants to associate his or her brand with F1 globally and Circuit of the Americas.”
Epstein, who added that another significant act could be added for a Sunday post-race show, went into more detail about the booking process.
“The negotiations are pretty complicated,” he said. “These guys get offers all the time, they are very selective. We’re not taking people who are on tour, so you have to explain why it’s worth making an exception for this one event. Assure the artist that the setting is going to be right for them. There is quite a sales pitch. You’re vetting them while they’re vetting you.
“We got a ‘no’ from one we were considering because of the date, but they will do 2018 here,” he said without elaborating.