In this week’s Business of Motorsport, I look at big changes at Porsche, the future of the French Grand Prix, the challenge facing NASCAR racing in the streets of Chicago, crypto sponsorship strategy and more. As usual I bring you the latest motorsport sponsorship deals, news from the teams, the latest movers & shakers, and some industry events you may want to attend. As always, the business of motorsport is constantly changing and evolving, and I hope I have been able to give you a sample of what has happened over the last week.
Motorsport Industry News
- In Dieter’s Diary: Porsche/Audi speculation arises after bombshell news, Dieter Rencken at Racing News 365 speculates on what the naming of the new VW Group CEO (see Movers & Shakers below) could potentially have on the constantly delayed Porsche and Audi F1 entries. While speculation about Audi continues, it looks like the tie-up between Red Bull and Porsche will be for 10 years. The Race asks, is Porsche deal the first step in Red Bull F1 exit strategy?
- Racing News 365 also has an exclusive interview with Alfa Romeo CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato who explains what’s keeping the brand in F1.
- You start to wonder if this is going to be a self-fulling prophecy but Autoweek looks at Why This Year’s F1 French Grand Prix is Likely to Be the Last.
- A study released by South Florida Motorsports (SFM) revealed that F1’s Miami Grand Prix boosted the local economy by US$349 million. The overall economic impact supported more than US$100 million in salaries and wages for over 3,000 local workers.
- Autoweek looks at the last time Chicago announced a street race and argues that NASCAR Needs Better Luck with Chicago Street Race than CART Had in 1981. “Or at least, let’s hope all sides have learned something about Windy City politics since Chicago’s last try at hosting a major racing series downtown.”
- I mentioned last week in Business of Motorsport the dueling contracts for Indycar racer Alex Palou with things now coming to a head as Chip Ganassi Racing has filed a civil lawsuit against its reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion according to Racer. “While facing litigation from CGR, Palou is expected to drive this weekend at the Indianapolis Grand Prix and the four remaining races that follow.” I’m not quite sure how facing litigation from your own team will encourage a driver to fight for a win.” Palou’s lawyer meanwhile has castigated CGR for preventing him from racing in F1 with this legal action. For his part, Palou says he is prepared for the lawsuit and expects to be with McLaren next year.
- While the series is no doubt controversial, Blackbook Motorsport explains how the W Series is increasing female representation in the male-dominated world of motorsport. “Armed with regular free-to-air (FTA) and pay-TV coverage, the WSL is now at a point where it can inspire young girls to grow up wanting to be like the players they’ve watched competing at the elite level, something that motorsport still lacks. Alice Powell, a W Series driver for the Click2Drive Bristol Street Motors Racing team, believes the importance of having these role models cannot be overstated.”
- Forbes looks at The Remarkable Story Of How Hy-Vee Saved Iowa Speedway For IndyCar. “It’s going to be a lesson on how to promote a race to other promoters out there, especially with a sponsor like Hy-Vee committing the resources, time, and effort to produce an event that will be unbelievable,” IndyCar owner Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winning driver, told me in an exclusive interview. “Bud Denker at Penske Entertainment has been so impressed dealing with them and their commitment. They are going to make sure it’s a successful event, not only for the state of Iowa but also for the fans that will go there.”
- Early Careers Programme Coordinator Katie Light at Williams Racing explains to Females in Motorsport how their apprenticeships and graduate schemes work. “We want to make every experience meaningful for that young person”
- The “Crypto Winter” that is currently causing havoc in cryptocurrencies is understandably causing some sports properties to pause and think about how to best engage in the space, if at all. When it comes to NFTs, a new study reports that “while two-thirds of sports fans prefer a tangible object in hand, 64% of fans are open to the idea of learning more about NFTs and would “consider” purchasing one in the future. In fact, one in three (34%) sports fans say they have already bought cryptocurrency or an NFT, according to a separate study released this spring by Seton Hall University.”
- Meanwhile, Sportico reports that, while NFTs are keeping a low profile at the National Sports Collectors Convention, optimism continues on their potential. “If you’re [a digital collectibles company], you can spend that money online and fairly well target people that are going to be somewhat receptive to your message, versus walking into a room where 95% of the people think you’re basically a scam,” French said, before interrupting himself. “Which is really silly, right? Let’s unpack that for a second. You’re going to tell me that a piece of cardboard… has value. However a digital collectible that is equally licensed is of zero value?”
- Sports Pro Media looks at how PerfORM Due Diligence is helping sport navigate the crypto industry. “We’ve seen those risks manifest themselves in so many ways,” Quentin Thom, co-head and co-founder of PerfORM Due Diligence, tells SportsPro. “You’re dealing with highly unregulated, fast-growing organizations that are very difficult to understand. We’ve seen lots of examples of, almost, livid activism from fans around the commercial decisions teams have taken.”
- While the article is not directly related to motorsport, additive manufacturing does have its place in the sport. In Can 3D Printing Give Us the Future Cars We Really Want?, The Drive looks at the technology and its potential in automotive manufacturing.
- Finally, while the world moves to streaming platforms and away from traditional TV, Michael Wolff in Sportico argues that the Reports of TV’s Death Are Greatly Exaggerated … Because TV Has Sports. “Luckily for the networks (and, presumably, anyone who happens to be reading this), sports exist. In 2021, sports accounted for 94 of the 100 most-watched TV broadcasts in the U.S., and the National Football League alone claimed 75 of those top spots. The gulf that separates the NFL and everything else on linear TV is so vast that, were he still alive, the ill-tempered/frequently-pulverized daredevil Evel Knievel would probably try to jump over it on his motorcycle.”
Motorsport Sponsorship News
- Racing News 365 looks at how France’s advertising laws affected F1 teams’ crypto branding. “Equally, as many are discovering in France and elsewhere, the advertising of such products is not only becoming increasingly regulated, but the applicable laws are extremely hazy.”
- Blackbook Motorsport reports that Dorna Sports, promoter of global motorcycling series MotoGP, has announced that CryptoData Tech, a Romanian company that develops hardware and software cybersecurity solutions based on blockchain technology, will be the title sponsor of the Austrian Grand Prix until 2024.
- Sharp Magazine looks at how BOSS is outfitting the Aston Martin’s F1 Team. “Aston Martin’s impressive power lies in its focus on technology, craftsmanship, iconic and luxury design – all guiding principles that the BOSS brand shares,” said Daniel Grieder, chief executive officer of HUGO BOSS. “We are excited to continue our long motorsports legacy with AMF1,” he added. The brand’s involvement with international motorsport dates back to 1972.
- Mercedes Formula One team have announced a long-term partnership with cloud platform Fastly. “Fastly’s edge cloud platform helps deliver digital offerings, while improving platform performance, enhancing security, and empowering innovation at global scale.”
- Formula E and SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, have announced a long-term sponsorship and innovation partnership, which will launch with title sponsorship of the 2022 SABIC London E-Prix double-header at ExCeL London, 30 & 31 July. “We are excited to partner with Formula E,” said SABIC Vice-Chairman and CEO, Yousef Al-Benyan. “Our sponsorship will drive global visibility of the SABIC brand within a relevant, exciting, and growing global sports platform. In addition, we intend to collaborate closely with Formula E to integrate our sustainable solutions into their ecosystem and operations.”
- Are you a law firm considering sponsoring a pro athlete, or a driver looking to get sponsorship from a law firm? Sportico looks at some of the pitfalls of law firms sponsoring pro athletes in LIV Golfer’s Lost Sponsorship Shows Risks of Law-Firm Endorsements.
The Business of Running a Race Team
- Autoweek reports that Don Schumacher, the winningest team owner in NHRA Camping World Drag Racing history, is taking a step back. “Effective Monday, Don Schumacher Racing’s Top Fuel operation that includes driver Tony Schumacher and tuner Todd Okuhara will be controlled by new majority owners and current team sponsors Joe and Cathi Maynard. The team will be rebranded as Maynard Family Racing/Don Schumacher Racing team.”
- Continuing with Autoweek and drag racing, NHRA Champion Ron Capps explains how Roger Penske’s attention to detail has rubbed off on him. “Speaking of owners, how about Roger Penske. Even though it was the pandemic when he bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a few years go, and the grandstands were empty, and he was out there sweeping. There were videos of some of his people out there in the grandstands picking stuff up and moving signage around. That’s the kind of owner I want to be.”
Movers & Shakers
- The Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG has appointed Oliver Blume as the new Chairman of the Group Board of Management. He will take over this position with effect as of 1 September and will at the same time remain Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche AG – also after a possible IPO. What effect this will have on VG’s motorsport activities remain to be seen, but as I started things off in this week’s column, it looks like Porsche is going F1 regardless.
- Meanhile in Canada, John Cappella is set to become the President and CEO of Porsche Cars Canada. “I am delighted to welcome a thoroughly experienced colleague for the CEO position in Canada who knows the automotive business and local market like the back of his hand,” says Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche AG. “I am confident that he will successfully continue to develop our presence in the country as well as further strengthen the brand experience of our Canadian customers and fans.”
- The Miami Grand Prix has reshuffled its management team following its inaugural Formula 1 race, with Tyler Epp promoted to president and Richard Cregan shifting into a consultancy role.
There are some great motorsport-related events coming up and here are some of the latest:
- August 11: Blackbook Motorsport Forum
- October 4-5: MotorsportAM
- November 2-3: Advanced Engineering 2022
- November 9-11: Professional Motorsport World Expo