Battle for the Long Beach Grand Prix

There is a battle for control of the Long Beach Grand Prix between IndyCar and NASCAR and this week it is part of the Business of Motorsport. Also, this week you will find news on how the Las Vegas Grand Prix is planning changes for 2024, why the FIA President feels people are attacking him and a new aggressive stance by Formula E.

I also have more details on Susie Wolff’s case in the Motorsport Law Roundup, the latest sponsorship news and partnership developments and much more. It’s all in this week’s edition of the Business of Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects.

Motorsport Industry News

Formula 1

Mohammed Ben Sulayem

While F1 team bosses urge for transparency from the FIA, President Ben Sulayem has stated that the ‘FIA is the target of accusations against me.’

“These events have one clear purpose: to strike at the heart of our leadership and undermine the foundation of our federation” which had been “the victim of malicious leaks of confidential and sensitive information, which have tarnished our reputation and caused concern among our members. But despite these attacks on my character and our organisation as a whole, we are stronger and the resolve is greater than ever before. We know that the ultimate goal of these despicable acts was to target me and weaken the very essence of the FIA.”

Honda is setting up a new base in the United Kingdom for its Formula 1 engine supply operation. Its new UK base will be used to support its future team.

“The new company will be responsible for maintaining and servicing its power units between races and preparing them for upcoming events. The business will also have a public relations operation. It has been founded as Honda Racing Corporation UK Limited. Its directors are Honda president Koji Watanabe and Honda Motor Europe executive vice president Ian Howells.”

Formula 1 and the Australian Grand Prix are working on improvements for Supercars in 2025 as F1 hints that the Australian series may be featured on further Asian Grands Prix weekends in the future. “Well, actually, we are working to make sure this could be possible in certain grands prix,” Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali stated. “So for all the fans of Supercars, stay tuned. That’s what I can say.”

The Las Vegas Grand Prix is looking to adopt a “more collaborative process” to improve its hospitality offering following its new partnership with Quint according to BlackBook Motorsport.

“Quint’s partnership with F1 has helped them build a clientele of motorsport fans who travel to races around the world and are very familiar with the hospitality experience that is offered at F1 races,” explained chief executive Renee Wilm. “The goal of this partnership is to work together to foster a more collaborative process around hospitality and experience products, and extend more offerings and experiences tailored to fans looking to attend the Las Vegas Grand Prix.”

General Motorsport Industry News

Long Beach Grand Prix 2023

While NASCAR continues to lead the way in US viewership, a battle is brewing between the stock car series and their compatriots in IndyCar over ownership rights to the Long Beach Grand Prix.

Multiple sources tell RACER that NASCAR has been actively pursuing the 50-percent stake in the Long Beach race, a staple on the IndyCar calendar since 1984, that became available for acquisition last year by the estate of the late businessman Kevin Kalkhoven.

Not so fast says Gerald Forsythe, who purchased the street race with Kalkhoven in the 2000s and says the event’s fate will be settled in a different way. “The estate has agreed to sell its 50% to me,” the industrialist and former owner of the Champ Car series told RACER. “If [any series] has its sights on Long Beach please tell them to look elsewhere. This [is] an IndyCar event, and it will be into the future.”

In more NASCAR news, amidst the ongoing, and contentious charter negotiations between the teams and NASCAR, a proposed budget cap is being strongly resisted by the teams.

“But the people familiar with the matter say that at least a large plurality, if not majority, of the 16 premier series teams have been hesitant to endorse a budget cap. Some believe it’s not necessary in a series where so many car parts already are standardized and bought from the same supplier. Others question whether the price of accounting for the cap and verifying spending would be too expensive.”

Business of Motorsport

IndyCar’s exhibition race at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs is getting mixed reactions. While there was praise for IndyCar trying something different, many question the overall benefit of the race to the series. Here are two articles looking at the pros and cons.

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media intends to finalize its purchase of the MotoGP World Championship for a figure of around €4 billion according to Autosport.

“The Financial Times reported on Wednesday afternoon that the takeover can be considered a done deal, although the business daily also pointed out that it would be very strange if those responsible for applying competitions law did not analyse the case.”

Manufacturers competing in the Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship are set to be required to enter two cars from next season. The new rule is under evaluation as part of a planned expansion of the WEC grid to a minimum of 40 cars from the current 37-strong field for 2025, Autosport has learned. The rule preventing Hypercar manufacturers from running more than two factory cars would remain in place.

Nissan Formula E

With Nissan becoming the first manufacturer to commit to Formula E’s GEN4 car, BlackBook Motorsport speaks with Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds and CMO Henry Chilcott to explore how the all-electric series has become more combative in its messaging, and why it has chosen now to proactively make more comparisons with Formula One.

“I worry for the sport because Formula One has never been less competitive than it is now,” Jeff Dodds, chief executive of Formula E, explains to BlackBook Motorsport.

“I believe motorsport fans are turning off because of that, and that hurts all of us in motorsport. However, if you’re a motorsport fan and you don’t like team or single driver dominance, or you don’t like the lack of a sustainable focus, come and look at us because we deliver in all those things.”

This isn’t necessarily a case of Formula E looking to antagonise Formula One. In Dodds’ words, “if Formula One is successful, that’s good for us”. But the idea is that the size and profile of the world’s biggest motorsport series can only help to elevate that of Formula E by association.

“If Formula One is not successful, and more fans switch off from motorsport, that’s bad for us,” Dodds continues. “I want Formula One to be successful, but I am going to use them to highlight what I think are our strengths.”

Competitive racing, street circuits, and a US$250k bet: Why Formula E is making more noise about F1 than ever before

Formula E’s new media rights deal with pay-TV broadcaster TNT Sports in the UK will be “challenging” for existing fans, admits the series’ chief marketing officer Henry Chilcott.

“[Moving to TNT Sports] is undoubtedly going to be challenging for a number of our fans who have got used to accessing it free of charge,” Chilcott told BlackBook Motorsport. “On the positive side, we’re opening up this sport to a lot of people who may not have seen it before, who are already subscribed to TNT Sports and, therefore, get access to it as part of their existing packages.”

The Skip Barber Racing School has announced that it has acquired Superstar Racing Experience (SRX). “This is an exciting time for the entire SBRS team,” Dan DeMonte, Chief Marketing Officer said. “We take great pride in providing valuable and exciting events to the motorsports community and now have the opportunity to continue that with the SRX series.”

Plans for the 2024 season are currently being formed and more information will be revealed in the coming weeks. Those interested in partnerships or sponsorships are encouraged to contact Skip Barber Racing School Chief Marketing Officer Dan DeMonte:

Charlotte Tilbury

Mark Gallagher of Autosport Plus explains why the introduction of the Charlotte Tilbury brands bodes well for the future of the F1 Academy.

“Let us be clear, a lack of sponsorship was one of the reasons W Series went to the wall. Despite worthy statements from many companies involved in F1 about support for gender diversity and inclusion, very few put their hands in their pockets when Catherine Bond Muir and her team came calling. Charlotte Tilbury has changed all of that, and for those of us who believe that the benefits of sponsorship go far beyond the money, 
it’s a potential game-changer.”

Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) president Chris Ward has issued his 2024 State of the Sport. “The next era is well underway, and it begins with a renewed commitment to ensure HSR remains the authentic home for vintage and historic sports car racing in North America,” Ward said. “The competitors, cars, on-track action and off-track camaraderie at Sebring clearly indicated to me in my first race with HSR that our competitors and members as well fully embrace these core values that will remain at the foundation of everything we do at HSR.”

Quick Takes on the Business of Motorsport This Week

Classic Team Lotus

Motorsport Law Roundup

A look at some of the legal and regulatory issues and analysis in Motorsport this week

Susie Wolff

Just as the Business of Motorsport was published last week came the news that F1 Academy managing director Susie Wolff had filed a criminal complaint against the FIA over allegations made against her at the end of last year. Since that time there has been some great analysis and details of both her complaint and the process under which it will be dealt with by French law.

In his latest Green Notebook, Joe Saward discusses what could come next.

“What happens next is that a magistrate, known as a “juge d’instruction” will conduct an investigation to decide if there is a case to be answered. If there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial, then there will be a trial. The juge d’instruction has wide-ranging powers to gather evidence and must be given access to all evidence. They may issue warrants allowing the authorities to raid offices and residences and seize evidence if those involved are not helpful. It is most unwise to try to dispose of evidence or to trust others involved to do the same. There might even be claims of conspiracy, which is where two or more people work together to commit a crime. It will all take a while, but those involved can expect to see policemen coming to call – and that is not great in any election campaign, as Donald Trump will tell you.”

Mark Hughes of Motorsport Magazine explains how her complaint exposes the F1 fault line where troubles run deep. “Susie Wolff’s filing of her complaint represents the outside world being pulled into the sport because it’s not doing a good enough job in monitoring itself. ‘Independent committees’ investigating complaints and just giving a black box yes/no outcome with no further explanation or transparency just do not cut it.”

By going to the courts, and not the FIA courts, Wolff is forcing the FIA’s hand and compelling them to pull their collective heads out of the sand and deal with reality. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Battle for the Long Beach Grand Prix

A settlement has been reached between Laguna Seca and disgruntled locals who had filed a lawsuit seeking a reduction in the track’s usage and noise levels. The execution of a comprehensive settlement that was announced on Friday puts an end to the Laguna Seca Raceway lawsuit, Highway 68 Coalition vs County of Monterey.

“We view this as a very favourable resolution for the County and its long-term partner at Laguna Seca, the nonprofit organisation Friends of Laguna Seca,” said Nick Pasculli, county communications director. “The future of the track and the amazing recreation area, which is a premier County Park, is bright. Laguna Seca is loved by local, national, and global car enthusiasts and also by the tens of thousands of people who enjoy the beauty of the recreation area.”

Motorsport Sponsorship & Partnership News

Here are the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, partnerships and related analysis that were announced this week

NXT Gen Cup Schunk
Business of Motorsport
Battle for the Long Beach Grand Prix

Team & Manufacturer News

Here is a roundup of the latest team news from around the world of motorsport

TFT Racing
Nissan Formula E
Lola Yamaha
Business of Motorsport

Motorsport Movers & Shakers

Julia Palle

In the first of an exclusive two-part interview with Motorsport Week, FIA Formula E’s Vice President of Sustainability, Julia Palle, talks about her role in detail, as well as sharing the achievements and goals that the sport is aiming to reach next.

“My role is to make the purpose and the mission that the Championship has given itself a reality, which is to accelerate sustainable human progress, and translate that into a strategy that gets implemented,” she says.

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.