Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022

The Business of Motorsport just keeps getting bigger week after week and this week is no exception. From the state of drag racing in the United States to Porsche’s role in F1 and their upcoming IPO, from internship programs with race teams and series to the return of Van Dieman, it is all here. I also have extensive coverage of how race teams run their businesses, the latest sponsorship deals, and what kind of people moves have been made in the last week. It is business news that racers can use. (Updated with comments from Helmut Marko regarding the failed Porsche engine deal and more)

Motorsport Industry News

Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
  • In Special Report: Course Correct?, PRI Magazine looks at the state of drag strips in the United States. “Across the US, drag strips are closing at an alarming rate, and with far-reaching consequences. Here, industry insiders weigh in on what can be done to stem the tide and get these venues back on solid ground.”
  • While numerous drag strips are closing, don’t count Auto Club Raceway as one of them. “Pomona [Auto Club Raceway] is not going away,” Young said of the facility that traditionally has started and capped every NHRA season. “We have a multi-year contract with the Fairplex. The L.A. market is very important to us. It’s been a staple of the sport. We go there twice a year and plan to continue to do that.” (Autoweek)
Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
  • John Doonan and Michael Lock of Garage 56, the venture behind Nascar’s first visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 47 years, talk to the BlackBook Motorsport about why the traditional American favourite is having to take a different approach to reach new audiences both at home and further afield. ‘It’s a special opportunity for the brand’.
  • Dorna and Motorsport Network data reveals global motorcycling series is drawing more female fans but more needs to be done to attract new fans. “We aim to open the doors to our sport as wide as possible, on track with the Road to MotoGP programme and off track as we continue our mission to grow the sport across all audiences and countries around the world. We’re especially happy because the results show clear potential and give us targets we can use to define our next steps as we aim to make the sport even bigger. Everything we’ve learned will be invaluable in the decisions and directions we take going forward.”
  • In addition to releasing the results of the fan survey, MotoGP has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to race in Saudi Arabia. “It is unconfirmed as to which year the race will debut but it will expand the series’ presence in the Middle East, adding to the already existing Qatar Grand Prix. The MoU will also see the founding of an initiative to develop racing talent in Saudi Arabia, increasing the awareness and accessibility of the sport in the region.”
  • The potential RACE purchase of the Australian Racing Group (ARG) is yet to be decided on, despite a target being set for the end of August according to Speed Cafe.
Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
  • Extreme E has announced its ‘Racing for All initiative‘, informed by the findings of the Hamilton Commission, which will create opportunities for mechanical and engineering talent from under-represented groups. Alejandro Agag: “We are fully supportive of the findings of the Hamilton Commission and are working with our teams to provide a clear path for the brilliant engineers and mechanics of the future, who may not so readily have the opportunities to succeed. Our goal is for Racing for All to instill an inclusive mindset and a wider recruitment pipeline which enables the next generation of race mechanics and engineers to reach the highest levels of motorsport, regardless of factors such as race, gender or social economic status, and reduce the barriers which exist for certain communities.”
  • After nearly four years of operating exclusively in the US and Canadian market, Ikoniqa Motorsports Studio will be expanding its service reach, opening the door for the company to work with new teams, series, circuits, and performance brands globally. Ikoniqa offers services in motorsports design, branding, and marketing.
  • The Detroit Bureau has a great article on how the organization Women in Motorsports North America is breaking down barriers in racing. The organization has also announced “WOMEN WITH DRIVE II” Driven by Mobil 1. “The motorsport industry event will bring together the most successful and influential people in motorsports to discuss the current issues and needs to advance opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive environment to help grow the motorsports industry. The WWD II – Driven by Mobil 1 Summit takes place on October 5-6 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.”
  • Racer looks at the state of sportscar racing in North America 10 years after the ALMS/GRAND AM merger. “There was a lot of give and take on both sides,” Ganassi said. “I’m sure there probably were some good feelings on both sides and probably a little pain on both sides. Ultimately it was something that proved to be the spark that lit the fire of sports car growth worldwide. It was the original spark that said, ‘Hey, this can happen.’ Opposing sides that have the same interest in mind can come together and live happily ever after. Look what it’s done.”
Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland Trainees
Photo: Porsche
  • Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland has introduced an a pilot project where 13 trainees from Porsche Centres across Germany have been given the chance to actively participate in a one-make cup race weekend for the first time. “Our Porsche Centres stand for the highest quality and are an elementary component of the brand experience. Just like motorsport, they are an integral part of Porsche’s appeal,” explains Alexander Pollich, CEO of Porsche Deutschland GmbH. “From this came the idea of giving the youngest members of our ‘family’ a very special Porsche experience where they can get involved in motorsport and take the values of our brand into their everyday working lives.”
  • Meanwhile in the UK, Porsche Cars Great Britain has introduced We Drive, “a program developed that was hoped would bring aspiring female journalists into contact with established industry professionals, offering the next generation of writers and video creatives the opportunity to refine their skills and foster new working relationships. We Drive would be a unique workshop, providing expert advice and hands-on media experience alongside the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Porsche.”
  • Across the pond in the United States, Racer reports that applications are open for the CGR/PNC Bank Women in Motorsports internship program. The program, which is designed to support the next generation of women to succeed as engineers, mechanics, entrepreneurs and in other motorsports-related careers, is entering its second year. College students from around the country have until Sept. 30, 2022 to apply for the fully-funded program set for summer 2023. Click here to learn more.
  • It appears that Alex Palou’s contract dispute appears to be nearing a resolution according to Motorsport Week. “Reports came out this past weekend, however, that McLaren is now willing to buy out Palou’s existing Ganassi contract in order to obtain his services. That development alone could lead to a swift resolution if both parties can agree on terms.”
  • Now that the Oscar Piastri contract dispute has been settled, GPDA chairman Alex Wurz has suggested that young driver contracts should be registered with the Contract Recognition Board to avoid the same issues being repeated in the future. “Teams or entities in F1 who are buying or securing talent with the clear aim to secure their services for F1 should also register those contracts to ensure that we are not entering the wild west about a few talents.” (Autosport) A sensible suggestion in my opinion. Clarity in contracts are always a good thing, assuming the registered contract is in fact clear of course!
  • Front Office Sports reveals that Aston Martin is leaning on existing investors, including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main backer of LIV Golf. Previous reports said that the PIF would invest around $93 million.The rights issue makes the PIF one of the company’s largest shareholders. Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll’s Yew Tree also invested.
Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
Van Diemen RF350
  • The Van Diemen name is making a welcome return to motorsport as Ralph Firman Jr, son of marque co-founder Ralph Sr. is relaunching the company with a new model, the RF350, set to hit the track in 2023 according to Autosport. “We’ve designed what is essentially an FIA Formula 3 chassis, which we’d like to use for multiple purposes for racing championships and trackdays, to try and spread our net over as many clients as possible.”
  • The USA Network hopes that their new NASCAR docuseries will have the same effect on the series, as well as their network that Netflix and F1 have had with ‘Drive To Survive’. “There’s so much a casual fan can get to learn about our sport and our drivers and teams,” Larson, the defending Cup Series champion, said on Thursday. “I’m excited to see what fans think of it. I’m excited to see how all of the episodes turn out, and even the ones I’m in. It’s been a long time since we did some of the stuff that they’re putting in the first episodes. I’m also excited to have them get a glimpse into our personal lives a little bit.”
  • With the recent demise of Wakefield Park Raceway, the owner of Lakeside Park is calling for greater racetrack support from the Australian government. “The greater sin in motorsport in my opinion is that the combined governments of Australia have spent about $2.5 billion on street circuits,” he continued. “For that amount of money, every capital city in Australia could have a world-class venue and just about every major regional centre would have a circuit that is more than capable of supporting club motorsport.”
  • Championship dirt racer and promoter Brad Street discusses with PRI the state of dirt track racing in the United States. “I feel like I’m young enough, and I have a good vision of what I would like the event to grow back into. I think the West Coast deserves to have one of the crown jewels in sprint car racing. My goal is to get it back to that point. The opportunity to get these tracks are very few and far between, so I was patient. The timing was right, so here we are. We’ve learned a lot, and we still have a long way to go.”

Motorsport Sponsorship News

Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
Photo: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
  • Racer reports that GYM WEED and ALTWELL are the latest companies to join SpeedTour through partnerships with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) and the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. The agreement names GYM WEED the “Official Energy Drink of Trans Am and SVRA” and ALTWELL the “Official Health and Wellness Company of Trans Am and SVRA.” Both brands are already active in the paddock through relationships with Trans Am competitors and team owners Chris Dyson, Greg Pickett, Tomy Drissi and Paul Gentilozzi.
  • Extreme E team X44 will have a title sponsor for the first time in the form of Vida Carbon, branding the team X44 Vida Carbon Racing beginning with the upcoming Extreme E round in Antofagasta on 24/25 September. “Vida Carbon is a Canadian investment firm specialising in carbon credit, which is a permit for a given party to emit a certain amount of carbon (a single carbon credit is worth a tonne of greenhouse gas). The company currently oversees four carbon credit projects like providing high efficiency stoves in Ghana and India, REDD+ (“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation”) conservation in the Amazon, and improving rice farming irrigation in Telangana.”
McLaren Racing Love Campaign
Credit: McLaren Media Centre
  • The Scuderia AlphaTauri Formula One team have announced inter-dealer brokerage house GMG as an official partner, starting from this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Marco Saviozzi, the Dubai chief executive of GMG, added: “Three primary characteristics underpin everything we do here at GMG: quality, speed and precision. All three are as important in the fast-paced environment in which we work as they are in Formula 1, where split-second decisions and flawless execution are crucial in determining the final result.”
  • Paretta Autosport have something to sing about as The Singing Machine Company, Inc. “the worldwide leader in consumer karaoke products” announced that it will be a sponsor of the No. 16 Paretta Autosport Dallara Chevrolet for the upcoming Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Gary Atkinson, CEO of Singing Machine, commented, “As a consumer product company with karaoke product extensions into the automotive category, we’re thrilled to be partnering with the groundbreaking female-first Paretta Autosport team. Through our CARPOOL KARAOKE product line, we see great synergies to spread the joy of karaoke and music into the automotive space. Further, INDYCAR fans are some of the best in the world and we are excited for the opportunity to introduce our brand in front of tens of thousands of new customers!

The Business of Running a Race Team

Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
  • Sticking with Red Bull racing, Christian Horner discusses Red Bull Racing’s Oracle partnership. “We have a lot of very data-hungry engineers, data is our lifeblood, how we manage that data, how we store that data,” Horner explains. “Pivotal moments are driven by data. Utilising the Oracle resource, we’re able to make a much more informed decision, whether it’s the conversion to the soft strategy in France [in 2021] that won Max [Verstappen] the Grand Prix there, or the utilisation of safety cars at the last Grand Prix.
  • Straight Line News Magazine reports that Rick Ware Racing has announced an NHRA Top Fuel team debut for the U.S. Nationals. “By expanding into the NHRA Top Fuel category, RWR will continue to service the growth of trackside hospitality interest across the country for all team partners, as well as customize hospitality programs that help cultivate new partners that have a need for large numbers of trackside attendees. “NHRA offers a unique opportunity to afford intimate access to the action to larger numbers of guests than most other motorsport properties do and that’s important to us as we continue to find new ways to offer memorable motorsport experiences” commented team owner Rick Ware. “We’ve committed to a multi-year agreement with veteran driver Clay Millican to build what I hope to be one of the newest winners in the Top Fuel ranks. Having Clay continue representing Parts Plus, as well as existing RWR partner NurtecODT, will allow us to offer one of the best spokesmen in the sport as an added asset to all our partners.”
  • Professional Motorsport World Magazine looks at how 3D printing enhances aerodynamics testing for McLaren Racing. “Through the application of highly accurate 3D printed parts, McLaren Racing has been able to extract more meaningful results from aerodynamics tests in the wind tunnel in recent years. According to the race team, it has made big strides in its aero optimizations since the technology was adopted, and on top of this, it can now manufacture scale model top-bodies in just three days.”
  • With skyrocketing energy bills being the primary reason but with an eye towards a more sustainable future, Mercedes F1 has approved a plan to reduce its energy costs over the long term by investing in a solar farm in partnership with a third party. According to Autosport, “the plan is to create a solar farm at an unspecified location near its factory, which can then provide the team with power.”
Catesby Tunnel
Catesby Tunnel
  • Multimatic Motorsports has completed an initial aerodynamic evaluation test at Catesby Tunnel, a newly-opened aerodynamic testing facility, owned by ARP (Aero Research Partners). It is the first facility of its kind in the UK and only the second in the world. “Compared to conventional wind tunnels, this is better because it’s real,” said Multimatic Motorsports boss Larry Holt. “In a moving ground plane wind tunnel, the car is stationary and the wind is blown over it by a massive fan and flow conditioning set-up, and a belt is arranged to move under the car at a coordinated speed. It’s a very sophisticated configuration but the car is still stationary and that constitutes the not totally real piece. What Catesby facilitates is the measurement of the aerodynamic performance of a vehicle actually moving through the real world.”
Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
Garrett and Monica Stanley
  • PRI Magazine has an interesting business profile on Oddball Motorsports, an off-road racing team run by husband and wife Garrett and Monica Stanley. “Just as he did in drag racing, Stanley threw all his energy into off-road racing and began to learn all he could about building and racing the trucks. His passion for the sport was soon shared by his wife, Monica. She learned to co-drive and navigate in their race truck, which was built in their shop on evenings and weekends. The duo raced all over Texas in the Texas Desert Racing Association (TDRA) circuit as well as the Southwest Texas Off Road Racing (STORR) circuit in El Paso, allowing them to learn what desert racing was all about. As their experience grew, Stanley stopped working on his own truck to build a Jeep for Monica, starting with a $400 auction vehicle and ending up with a competitive desert racer with the only I-beam front suspension out there they know of.”

Movers & Shakers

Business of Motorsport for September 9, 2022
Lars Stegelmann
  • German Touring Car Masters (DTM) promoter ITR has appointed Lars Stegelmann as its new commercial director. According to Blacbook Motorsport, Stegelmann takes over the commercial department of the organisation, looking to enhance the attractiveness of DTM for current and future partners. He will also be responsible for the global sales of ITR’s series rights.
  • Long-standing Mahindra Formula E team boss Dilbagh Gill will leave his role this month. According to The Race, they understand that Gill will leave the company next week in what appears to be an unplanned change to the structure of the team.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s IndyCar team has announced Stefano Sordo, currently McLaren F1 team’s director of vehicle performance, as its new technical director according to Autosport.
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.