Today’s Business of Motorsport could be considered Part Two of the Easter-delayed column I published on Monday. I have news from the worlds of Formula 1, Formula E, Indycar, NASCAR, NHRA, MotoGP and more. Hear from today’s movers and shakers, team owners and other motorsport professionals. I also bring you some of the latest sponsorship deals and even litigation results. The Business of Motorsport: News Racers Can Use.
Motorsport Industry News
- This year’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone has sold out in the shortest time in the Formula One race’s history, with all 142,000 tickets for Sunday’s race day on 3rd of July already snapped up. And it is not just the British Grand Pix as Formula 1 projects that their entire 2022 season will be sold out.
- The sell-outs will include the brand-new Miami Grand Prix as attempts to stop the race in the courts has failed. The case I reported on last week has been dismissed by a judge according to Autosport as Judge Alan Fine “found that “any potential harm is avoidable” in terms of hearing damage – despite the plaintiffs bringing forth new evidence as requested.”
- In what is turning out to be the business story of the year, supply chain issues are causing major problems across the business world and motorsport is not immune. Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner says that there is the potential of wreaking havoc. “We have a very complicated calendar and there’s very tight timescales, and with some of the triple-headers, and double-headers coming up late in the year, obviously losing freight for a period of time could wreak havoc.”
- The ongoing debate within the Volkswagen Group as to whether they should enter their Porsche and Audi brands in F1 continues. While the Porsche plans appear to be settled with a partnership with Red Bull in the wings, Audi plans continue to be in flux. Adam Cooper explains in his Motorsport Magazine article why Audi ‘has confused itself’ in its search to buy an F1 team.
- Everybody is aware of the “Netflix effect” that has made such an impression on Formula 1 through their Drive To Survive program. While this is something that Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has acknowledged, Jonathan Noble in Autosport+ argues that Netflix isn’t the sole reason behind F1’s modern-day boom.
- Maserati has explained to The Race that their Formula E ambitions go beyond being a clone of fellow brand DS. “When Grasso joined Maserati in July 2019 he immediately pushed for a return to international competition for the marque because in his own words “without racing it wouldn’t be Maserati. It was born on a track, right?””
- It is not just Formula 1 that is enduring supply chain issues. Formula E teams are suffering Gen3 testing headaches as a time crunch and supply chain delays are playing havoc with their plans to get to speed with their new Gen3 cars.
- Motomatters asks, and answers the question, Why Is MotoGP So Unpredictable? How New Technologies Have Changed The Face Of The Sport.
- Road & Track explains why There’s Never Been Anything Like LMDh in Sports Car Racing. “LMDh looks to not repeat old mistakes. First announced at Daytona in 2020, LMDh is a joint creation by IMSA and the ACO—the governing body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans—designed as a relatively low-cost platform for automakers to build a car to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech series and the FIA World Endurance Championship. That means an automaker can build one car to challenge for overall wins at Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans. And to make sure that automakers stick around for the long haul, IMSA and the ACO are fostering something unprecedented—partnership and transparency.”
- SRO Motorsports America President Greg Gill talked to Daily Sportscar about the series’ emergence from COVID, and what’s in store for the future. “Continued grid growth is important to us,” said Gill. “Secondary to that, is we are a 30-plus year-old organisation. We’re a part of the SRO Group and SRO family. It’s customer racing from top to bottom. There are great manufacturer programs in the Intercontinental GT [Challenge] as part of our GT World Challenge program. But at the end of the day, it’s customer racing.”
Indycar & NASCAR
- Indycar is moving from strength to strength under the stewardship of Roger Penske, despite the fact that he took over just as Covid hit. Right now, IndyCar is seeing Its highest TV viewership in 19 years, leading to hopes for a big Indianapolis 500 rating. “We ended last season with momentum and with growing audiences on NBC and NBCSN on their streaming platform,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said. “That has continued. I think the primary driver is more and more race fans’ recognition that IndyCar racing is really entertaining and a great sport. That continues to be true. We’ve had three great races this year. Compelling events.”
- Racer.com reports that grassroots racing will return to North Wilkesboro Speedway later this year as the track continues to undergo revitalization efforts. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for competitors and short track race fans to experience North Wilkesboro Speedway one more time on the old asphalt and then on dirt as it first began,” said XR Events CEO Barry Braun. “We have a lot of work to do with sanctioning bodies and competitors to get ready for August, but we’re committed to producing an event that both fans and racers will remember for a lifetime.”
- Autoweek explains why NASCAR’s schedule overhaul is not done yet. “The suits in the executive offices know more about the direction of all this than people on the street, but it’s clear that the future look of NASCAR will continue to veer away from the images of the past. After a long period of general decline in attendance and television ratings and a relatively recent uplift, the bywords are change and experimentation.”
General Motorsport Industry News
- Fans are rallying to save Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR). The IHRA-sanctioned drag strip and road course in Jupiter, Florida, formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park, has reportedly been sold to a buyer that wants to convert it from a motorsports facility to an industrial park. “Racers, enthusiasts, and fans have formed a campaign to help stop the sale. The effort is documented on savepalmbeachraceway.com, which offers testimonial support from big names in the industry, including McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, NASCAR Team Co-Owner Armando Christian Perez (Pitbull), IndyCar champion Danny Sullivan, Motorsports Hall of Fame of America inductee Tommy Kendall, plus John Oates of Hall & Oates and former St. Louis Cardinal Rick Ankiel.”
- While only indirectly related to motorsport, more and more industry heavyweights are pointing out the obvious that electric is not the only carbon emissions solution, it is just one part of the solution. According to BMW CEO Oliver Zipse: “If you are not selling combustion engines, someone else will.” He elaborated at a recent industry round-table: “When you look at the technology coming out, the EV push, we must be careful because at the same time, you increase dependency on very few countries,” Zipse told reporters, according to Reuters. EVs are primarily popular in highly developed markets like China and Europe and also depend on raw materials that flow mostly through China. And as the pandemic and current trade sanctions on Russia show, depending too much on any one set of market conditions or single chain in a supply line can be dangerous.
- The FIA has revealed details of its new CEO role as the search continues. “FIA President Ben Sulayem sees the introduction of a well-qualified professional manager as a key part of his strategy of updating the FIA and especially keeping proper control of its finances.”
Movers & Shakers
- Women in Motorsports North America has been launched by industry veterans Lyn St. James and Beth Paretta. “There has long been a need for a place where all the professional women working in motorsports can come together to collaborate and elevate their opportunities,” said Lyn St. James. “Beth and I had spoken about this subject on a number of occasions, and we decided to develop a platform and bring in some of the many talented professionals currently employed in the sport to join committees and build a charity to be a place women could go for resources who want to work in motorsports.”
- RACER sat down with Laura Klauser, GM’s sports car racing program manager, to talk about what’s coming and how its future competition cars are progressing. “The great thing about the LMDh program so far is, since we have that common spec hybrid system across all the cars, the OEMs are working together. We meet regularly, we’re discussing with the sanctioning body, because at the end of the day, all of us want that system to be successful, and then the rest of the car we’ll take care of on our side. So it’s been a lot of collaboration and I think that that’s going to translate into some really great racing that’s going to happen in ’23.”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
Cryptocurrency & NFT Sponsorship News and Views
- Drive Sports Marketing looks at the impact that cryptocurrency sponsorships have had on Formula 1 over the last few years but there are concerns. “This recent indissoluble link between Formula 1 and cryptocurrencies brings with it problems of no small relevance: while the Formula 1 world is constantly seeking to become greener, the world of cryptocurrencies does not seem to want to follow in its footsteps. Cryptocurrencies, to be created, currently require a process called ‘mining’, which consumes a lot of energy and releases carbon dioxide. In addition, cryptocurrencies are not yet well regulated from a financial and consumer protection point of view worldwide.”
- While there are definitely sustainability concerns related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, have a look at Ellis Spiezia’s recent Motorsport Prospects article One Electric Racing Driver’s Guide To Sustainable Blockchain for more details on the sustainability issues surrounding blockchain and how the technology is evolving to meet the issue head on.
Sponsorships & Partnerships
- Racer.com reports that the rainbow sidepods pride livery will return to Andretti’s No.28 for the Indy 500. “The livery, which showcases a memorable DHL Pride rainbow logo, carries a message of diversity, equity and inclusion, helping to promote a sense of belonging both inside and out of the workplace,” the Andretti team said.
- The Haas F1 Team and TransferMate have announced a new global partnership. As an official ‘Team Partner’, TransferMate will provide cross-border payments services through its unrivalled global payments infrastructure, while the TransferMate logo will be featured on the Haas F1 Team’s VF-22 car and the apparel of drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher throughout the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
- While the TransferMate deal is done and dusted, Gunther Steiner has stated that Haas won’t rush any new F1 deals after the Rich Energy and Uralkali controversies. While Haas and Uralkali legal discussions are ongoing over their requested refund and Haas’s counter-offer, Steiner has stated: “We are waiting for the best package, it’s a combination of things. It’s the best offer, the best sponsor, and just not doing something [where you] maybe take a deal today that you find out in six months you shouldn’t have done that.”
- Penske Entertainment has announced an NFT deal with Tom Brady’s Autograph brand. The multi-year partnership will see an NFT collection drop in conjunction with the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 29, on NBC. “The convergence of sports and technology provides us many unique opportunities, including this new opportunity with NFTs and digital collectibles. We believe Autograph is the perfect partner, and I can’t wait to reward our fans with unique opportunities to get closer to the sport through this new innovative relationship,” said Jonathan Gibson, executive vice president of Penske Corp.
- Green Racing News reports that Porsche has partnered with Henkel for Formula E. The partnership with Henkel is through its well-known LOCTITE brand as an official adhesive partner. “The company will offer high-quality professional products and extensive technical expertise for the 99X Electric single-seater.”
- Finally, RS Components (RS), a trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global omni-channel product and service solutions provider for industrial customers and suppliers, is championing access to motorsport for all with its sponsorship of Team BRIT. As part of the support package, it is providing crucial kit and supplies to the team, which has aspirations to become the first ever all-disabled team to race in the Le Mans 24 hour.
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Beth Paretta has announced that Paretta Autosport will return to Indycar and Chevrolet for 2022 in partnership with Ed Carpenter Racing. Beth Paretta, Team Principal, Paretta Autosport – “I am thrilled to announce that we will be back competing in the NTT INDYCAR Series in 2022. We had a great first year working with Roger Penske and Team Penske in 2021 as part of the Race for Equality and Change initiative and since then I have been working on building the right structure and opportunity to continue to grow our team. This new technical alliance with Ed Carpenter Racing is exciting for us and will allow us to continue to grow and compete in multiple races this season. Additionally, I am proud to continue our association with Chevrolet who has valued, supported, and championed our efforts for diversity and inclusion from the beginning. This alignment has helped us amplify our message in a meaningful way and we can’t wait to get back on track with them. Finally, we are pleased to welcome KiwiCo to our team and the NTT INDYCAR Series. This partnership will allow us to connect our effort on track to kids and parents at home which is a critical ingredient of our mission. We invite our fans to visit us at the track to see the KiwiCo crates up-close and see how we will continue to make learning fun!”
- Autoweek explains why Beth Paretta is skipping the Indy 500 this season. “I‘ve been working on this probably since like August 1 of last year,” Paretta said. “My intention was always 500-plus. If we were going to do the 500, it was always not going to be just the 500. Then, in talking to Ed (new partner Ed Carpenter), knowing like where is the constraints? We knew there’s some challenges with how many people are available and how many cars are available. So then it’s like, let’s look at an alternate way to do this.”
- Formula Scout explains why a French racing empire is joining single-seaters with big ambitions. French sportscar and rally team Sainteloc Racing will move into single-seater racing this year, starting with the Spanish F4 series. “We have expanded a lot [our racing]. We need to build the team, to have the staff, the technical team and so on. But we have already signed an interesting name on the technical side, and I think it will be surprising for many people in this business.”
- Autoweek has a great interview with NHRA Team Owner/Driver Ron Capps. “First-year owner finds that lawyers, watching the bottom line, and a dose of negativity all come with the territory.”