This week’s Business of Motorsport is once again jam packed with motorsport industry news, updates on the people that make it all happen, developments in the world of sponsorship, new team news and various motorsport-related legal developments.
Motorsport Industry News
- Front Office Sports reports that the recently announced Las Vegas Grand Prix F1 race may be facing some issues as it is the subject of ongoing litigation. F1 owner Liberty Media is engaged in litigation against a businessman who claims he has jurisdiction over event promotion, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Miami-based businessman Farid Shidfar and former Las Vegas politician Chad Christensen allegedly had plans to ink a contract to promote a Las Vegas race with F1’s former owner. Liberty Media, however, claims that the company the two men started to promote the race — called P2M Motorsports — never legally obtained rights to it.”
- Speaking of litigation and F1, a group of Miami Gardens residents are attempting to block the Miami Grand Prix from going ahead. “Miami Gardens residents filed a lawsuit to cancel the much-anticipated race on the grounds that noise from the May 6-8 event will “cause severe disruption and physical harm to Miami Gardens residents.”
- More legal news as the legal matter involving Triple Eight Race Engineering and its former race engineer David Cauchi has now been settled, Speedcafe.com has learnt. “Multiple sources have now assured the matter is closed, with no further information forthcoming on whether a settlement was reached or whether the case simply fizzled out.”
- Speedway Media looks at the recent increase in importance that the Middle East plays in international motorsport.
- Is Monaco F1’s crown jewel or just another race? That is the big debate in light of recent F1 calendar changes and statements from Liberty Media. The Race has a good overview of the issue in Monaco’s place on the F1 calendar is no longer untouchable.
- The plans of the Volkswagen Group with their Audi and Porsche brands and F1 are causing more issues, this time related to the engine budget cap. The Race reports that “Red Bull wants a more generous concession for new Formula 1 engine manufacturers from 2026 but rivals are more concerned about how an unprecedented entry plan from the Volkswagen Group could materialise.” And those Audi plans are definitely in flux these days. Dieter Rencken at RacingNews 365 says its time for the Volkswagen Group to put up or shut up. I must say I agree with him.
- The Long Beach Grand Prix is arguably the second most important race after the Indy 500 and the ratings seem to support that claim. According to ratings released by NBC as reported by Speed Sport, the annual street race in Long Beach, California averaged a “Total Audience Delivery” (TAD) of 1.078 million viewers on NBC and Peacock. IndyCar’s TAD is up 13 percent over last year’s NBC race average, excluding the Indianapolis 500.
- Daily Sportscar has a great interview with simulator company Ansible Motion’s founder Kia Cammaerts. “Essentially, what we do is we create the bit that sits between the real human driver and the imagined system, or the virtual system, whatever that is. And, of course, it’s a car, but the system that you’re focusing on deriving information about – it may not just be the whole car, it may be a particular aspect of it. So what you’ve got to do is take a real human and connect that to a virtual, imagined thing. And how do you do that?“
- Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway looks set for demolition according to The Drive. “Palm Beach International Raceway, formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park, looks set to be demolished. Its owner has already signed a contract to sell the property to Portman Industrial, which plans to retool the site into an industrial park. Locals in Palm Beach County are putting up a strong fight to prevent the sale and there’s another buyer allegedly interested in keeping the track open, though it doesn’t look good for the facility as it stands.”
- Autosport has an interesting look at how Italian brand BMC Air Filter is using motorsport as a laboratory for experimentation. “The invaluable experience gained in the field of racing, combined with intense laboratory testing, make BMC products innovative and cutting-edge. Filtration tests are performed according to the international standards (ISO 5011).”
- Formula Scout has an excellent interview on their Formula Scout Podcast with Van Diemen founder Ralph Firman. “If we’d have continued as a company, who knows what we could have turned up with,” Firman says of what a truly modern Van Diemen would have looked like had the company not been sold on 20 years ago.”
- In The Next Generation of NASCAR, Front Office Sports looks at how the sport is making an effort to draw in a more diverse audience and that viewership numbers indicate that decision is paying off.
- If you are curious about some of the financials behind the company running the Nio 333 Formula E team, Seeking Alpha takes a deep dive.
- With 3 races now scheduled to take place in the United States, Indycar and IMS owner Roger Penske states that he is not feeling threatened by F1’s American expansion. As he explains to Racer.com: “We’ve got to run our own show,” he said. “I’ve always been in the business where we’ve got competition; Formula 1 is good competition, and we can learn from them. The U.S. markets is a big market, and what we need to do is to deliver more wherever we go.” He also thinks that Indycar needs more ovals on the calendar as that is what differentiates the series from F1.
- The NTT IndyCar Series has partnered with Spring Media to provide its international fans without a broadcast solution with a new live streaming service for the remainder of the races on the 2022 calendar according to Racer.com. “‘IndyCar Live!’ will broadcast all on-track action in markets where the series does not have a contracted broadcast partner,” Spring Media wrote. “The platform will be offer both IndyCar Series and the Indy Lights developmental series sessions, based on territorial rights deals. The service will also stream qualifying and practice sessions for fans outside the U.S. and Latin America. On race day, markets that are not serviced through IndyCar international broadcast partners will be able to stream the race live, uninterrupted and commercial-free.”
- I have mentioned in previous editions Business of Motorsport how supply chain issues are impacting racing and NASCAR is no exception. Forbes has a look at how NASCAR teams are learning to adapt to Next Gen supply chain issues.
Motorsport People News
- Rumor has it that DAMS boss Francois Sicard is set for a new FIA F1 role as Sporting Director according to Autosport. “Sicard’s tasks are expected to include overseeing the development of the sporting regulations, along with liaising with the F1 organisation on matters such as the calendar and circuit licensing. As well as F1, Sicard is expected to oversee FIA-run single-seater categories F2, F3, F4 and Formula Regional.”
- The first part of the rumor above may be accurate but not the second as Gian Carlo Minardi has taken over the FIA single-seater role formerly held by Michael Masi. As single-seater commission president, Minardi will oversee all single-seater motorsport series sanctioned by the FIA – including Formula 1, Formula 2, the FIA Formula 3 championship and regional F3 series, all Formula 4 championships and more.
- FEL Motorsports has appointed Rolf von Engelbrechten as race director for the Sports Car Championship Canada presented by Michelin. “Rolf is the perfect candidate for the position. He worked under the direction of Terry Dale for our inaugural 2021 season and learned a lot. We would like to thank Terry for his professionalism, guidance and commitment in 2021 and we wish him all the best this year and beyond. Terry submitted his letter of resignation on Thursday, April 7. Rolf was the first name that came to mind and I believe without doubt he is the right choice to fill that position,” said FEL President Chris Bye.”
- Supercars has promoted from within to fill its vacant position of chief operating officer. No details were announced at the time regarding the identity of the incoming COO, but Speedcafe.com can reveal that Cameron Price has since been given the nod.
- Hyundai Motorsport has announced that Sean (Seon-Pyung) Kim is taking over the role of company president. He replaces outgoing president Scott Noh, who is set to take up a new position at Hyundai in Korea after four years at the helm, as part of a standard rotation of senior management within the global Hyundai organization.
- Longtime Rebellion Racing team principal Bart Hayden has joined ORECA as its new customer racing program manager according to Sportscar365. It is the latest change to be made within the company following technical director David Floury’s departure last year.
Motorsport Sponsorship News
- McLaren XE has announced a “multi-year partnership” with Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (ICE) that turns ICE into an Official Partner for the team. ICE logos were already present on the car during the season-opening Desert X Prix in February. The ICE oversees global exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange and the futures market. Zak Brown, McLaren CEO, joined ‘Squawk on the Street‘ to discuss the company’s newest model, the specs behind the new vehicle and more.
- The Haas Formula 1 team has rejected the Uralkali request to repay it their F1 sponsorship money. Autosport reports that “In the letter from the Haas team to the Russian company, a copy of which has been seen by Autosport, the American-owned team insists it had a right to end the deal because of a clause in the sponsorship agreement which stated that Uralkali does not ‘injure, bring into dispute, ridicule, or lessen the public reputation, goodwill of favourable image of Haas’. It is pretty clear that this will be heading to the courts although in which jurisdiction I am not certain. I am also curious as to which firm would represent Uralkali in the current global climate.
- The Qatar MotoGP Grand Prix was the setting for the unveiling of a collaboration between two brands from different sectors led by two women. Drive Sports Marketing reports that fashion and motorsport collaborated on the MotoGP grid for the first time “thanks to the synergy created between Elisabetta Franchi, head of the Bologna-based brand of the same name, and Nadia Padovani, Team Owner of the Gresini Racing Team, the grid girls wore haute couture garments: dresses, jackets, and suits made from technical materials inspired by those used by the riders.”
- Lizzie Isherwood, senior account director, communications, at CSM Sport & Entertainment, explains to Sport Business Formula 1’s increasing prominence in the US and the opportunity for tech-focused brands to enter the sport in F1, the US and new tech, a match made in heaven.
- Luxury performance automotive brand Lexus has joined as title sponsor for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Mid-Ohio on May 13-15. The weekend of sports car racing will now be named the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio after previously being sponsored by Acura.
- Speed Cafe looks at OTR, the iconic South Australian brand sponsoring McLaren. “We’ve been seeking out this sort of exposure, because both OTR and The Bend, Sam and I personally are so invested in motorsport, and this is just a huge opportunity,” Yasser Shahin told Speedcafe.com.
- Emzone will be the title sponsor for a second season of the Emzone Radical Cup Canada. “Emzone is a premium auto care line and a proud Canadian manufacturer with over two decades of industry experience.”
- ROKiT Venturi Racing have appointed Turnstile to provide a fair market value assessment of their Intellectual Property, as they seek to quantify the value of sponsors associating themselves with the team. The appointment follows a multi-year partnership announcement between Maserati and ROKiT Venturi Racing prior to the weekend’s Rome E-Prix double header. The Italian manufacturer and Monegasque Formula E team will link up from Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
- Hookit has released their 2021 sponsorship year in review. You can watch a summary of their findings here or download the full report here. The report covers topics such as:
- The State of Sports on Social Media
- The Leading Brands & Categories in Sponsorship
- Top Athletes & Sports Properties on Social
- Key Lessons for 2022 planning
- Law firm Mishcon de Reya looks at Global events and politics: how rightsholders and sporting bodies react to a crisis and important considerations. “Before taking any action that may have future repercussions, it is necessary for parties to review and consider any rights and remedies that they may have in their contracts (as well as any applicable governing rules and regulations). Recent events also serve as a reminder of the issues to be considered when contracting for future sports events and commercial partnerships.”
- With the advice of Mishcon de Reya in mind, have a look at Eva Gerritse’s article Sponsor, let yourself be heard over at Sponsoring Insights. “With all the exposure they receive through sponsorship, sponsors have more than enough opportunities to make a socially relevant noise. This is not the time to be quiet. The world expects sponsors to speak out, so let yourself be heard!“
- Over at Sports Pro, Sam Carp has an insightful opinion piece on why crypto sponsors must prove they are serious about sport or risk going the same way as betting in the UK.
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Speed Cafe reports that a significant step forward in 2022 is proof that Matt Stone Racing is on the path to success, says its eponymous team owner. “MSR joined the full-time Supercars Championship grid in 2018 on the back of winning the Dunlop Super2 Series the previous season. It’s been a tough slog from there, two years as a single-car outfit followed by two years running two cars – all spent generally running towards the back of the pack. In fact, it’s never had a driver finish higher than 18th in the championship. But this year, things are looking up.” You can read more over at Speed Cafe.
- Zengő Motorsport has been in talks with two “non-WTCR manufacturers” as it pursues its 2022 plans. “Zengő Motorsport boss Zoltán Zengő says he has been in talks with two manufacturers currently not represented in the WTCR during the winter and that he could field Rob Huff and Johan Kristoffersson in the series this season.”
- Daily Sportscar profiles new team GMB Motorsport and interviews team owner Rene Birch about the big ambitions he has for 2022 and the future. They have a total of six cars entered in various Danish championships this year, as well as three cars in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
- Nissan has become the sole owner of the Formula E entry that it has previously run in conjunction with the French e.dams operation further solidifying its commitment to the all-electric championship for the foreseeable future. The Race looks at why Nissan have taken sole control of the team and what this means to its future.