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"Formula E" Electric Cars to Race in Miami Next Year, but Where Will Grand Prix Be Held?

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Once a year, downtown Miami used to reverberate with the roar of 1,000-horsepower engines, Bayfront Park smelled of burnt rubber, and millionaires' Lamborghinis were made to look like junkyard jalopies. The Grand Prix of Miami, held from 1983 until 1993, was this city's brief fling with Formula 1 racing. Now the romance could finally be back on.

Formula E -- the electric-car version of Formula 1 -- has announced Miami is one of eight cities around the world that will host a race in 2014. Organizers have promised the race will occur along the waterfront. But the city has changed drastically since '93. Can Miami still make room for the race?

Other host cities announced on Friday include London, Rome, Los Angeles, Beijing, Putrajaya, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro. Formula E Holdings, which is promoting the FIA Formula E Championship, intends to announce two more races in the near future.

In a statement, organizers said they are working with the selected cities to confirm their feasibility of the races. Formal agreements will be signed by July.

"The fact that cities from all over the world are interested in the FIA Formula E Championship is extremely heartening and shows a global commitment to clean mobility and sustainability," Formula E Holdings executive Alejandro Agag said in the statement.

Of course, Miami has heard similar promises before. In 2001, city commissioners announced the return of racing to downtown with a planned Grand Prix of the Americas. Instead, the race was scrapped because of legal and financial issues.

The death knell for the daylong race was fierce opposition from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lawyers for the speedway appealed the downtown race's zoning permit.

Another challenge is simply the changes that the city has undergone since the races ended in 1993. It's unclear whether Bayfront or Bicentennial Park -- where the Miami Grand Prix was held from '86 until '93 -- can still accommodate cars hurtling at 180 mph.

"The fundamental issue is, can you race in the park?" speedway lawyer Jorge Luis Lopez said in 2001. "We think the answer is no."

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes. Follow this journalist on Twitter @MikeMillerMiami.

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